At the last meeting I tried to corner Ms. Boyd on the matter during her somewhat caustic speech to the Board. I asked her flat out if benefits contributions were on the table and she completely avoided the question. I thought maybe it was just me but even the reporter from The Advance, Joe Dynan, described the situation by saying she "sidestepped the question." Apparently Mr. Dynan questioned Ms. Boyd on the issue later in the evening and she said the offer to resume talks does not mean the union is willing to compromise on the health issue. You can read Joe Dynan's article in The Advance by clicking here.
This isn't intended as a Louise Boyd-bashing opportunity. As I said at the conclusion of the last meeting, I have a long-standing, respectful relationship with Louise and you have never heard me utter an unkind word about her. But I just cannot understand why she will not even indicate a willingness to open up to the single biggest obstacle in our negotiations. Virtually every issue involves money, and if we cannot get major concessions from the NFT on benefits, then there is no money available for us to negotiate anything else with. About the only thing we can discuss that doesn't involve money is random drug testing, and I hardly think that issue alone is worth the time and cost of having another round of talks.
As far as I am concerned, if employee contributions for benefits isn't on the table, then there is no reason to even have another negotiation session with the NFT.
If there are teachers out there reading this post who believe that contributing to benefits should be on the table, can you please tell that to your union leadership? Even if both sides agree that the subject is up for discussion, it will likely take us many, many months to make any progress in our negotiations. But none of that is possible unless the NFT takes the first step. And it doesn't have to happen at a public meeting. All it takes is for Louise Boyd to pick up the phone and give Ritchie Webb a call - just one quick call, and we can move on from this prolonged stalemate.
Until that happens, all any of us can do is wait. Just sit and wait.