Sunday, May 2, 2010

Support staff deserve a livable wage

Some excerpts from Mindy Anderson's letter which appeared in today's Courier Times . . .

"The savings board alleges while outsourcing some services is only on paper, it does not reflect a real savings because associated items such as increased unemployment costs, extenuating operational costs and the future real contract costs with these companies are absent."

"The Neshaminy support staff has agreed to many cost saving concessions, and even before fact finding began offered to negotiate a realistic co-payment of health benefits proportionate to support staff wages."

"Yes, Neshaminy administrators agreed to pay more; but they are making six-figure salaries; plus they received raises that will cover the cost of their insurance co-payment."

I will have a few thoughts in response to Ms. Anderson's later today, so check back after dinner. In the meantime you can feel free to add your comments.

Click here to read the letter in its entirety.
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21 comments:

Levittowner said...

"Wow." I saw this in the paper yesterday morning and uttered those words.
Nothing more to add than that..she is beyond reason with her view on reality.

Neo Con said...

What will stop the outsourced from re organizing and demanding higher wages and better benefits? If that happens will that cost then be passed down to the Neshaminy School District? Since the teachers do not have any intention on taking a pay freeze or cut, or any cut or co-pay in beneftis doesnt that make them responsible as well for having to cut programs? Just a few questions I am forced to ponder while this game of table tennis continues.

William O'Connor said...

Neo, all vendors gave us a 5-year guarantee on their costs. So our reduced expenses are protected for 5 years.

You are correct regarding your statement about the NFT's role in our budget situation. It isn't just the NESPA contract that has put us into this situation.

acs said...

It is a darn shame that this individual has been allowed to drive her union buses(pun intended) off the cliff with all the custodians inside. It was a big disservice to have such an incompetent president be responsible for a complex union negotiation like this. I wonder what her members are saying today either to her face but at least behind her back. William is the Fact Finder report back yet?

KClarinet said...

"Since the teachers do not have any intention on taking a pay freeze or cut, or any cut or co-pay in beneftis..."

Sorry, I'm going to keep flagging this as long as others keep presenting it as "fact." The only one who has said this publicly and on the record is Mr. Webb. The NFT has made no such public statement. This view of the NFT position is based on now very old original negotiating proposal. They have never said publicly, on the record that anything in it is non-negotiable.

Indeed, that's one of the problems with their approach - they haven't said anything publicly, on the record at all in a year and a half. The strategy simply lets Mr. Webb determine what the NTF's position is.

tiredparent said...

KClarinet- The teachers action are louder than words to many in this community at this point.

They are the ones handing out their union propaganda stating that the School Board is being unfair(I and many others believe the board is being generous),they are the one who were on school grounds(illegally might I add)protesting at OUR CHILDREN'S BACK TO SCHOOL NIGHT, They wear their UNION shirts on picture day(an everready reminder again in a school class room pic that they have no business ruining something I paid for), They walk in every weds to show SOLIDARITY for their union and how their union is handling things(they have voted to strike if the union calls for it), and finally THEY are the one who are allowing for these cuts by not signing this contract not the board, not the non teacher taxpapers of Neshaminy BUT the TEACHERS have chosen not to do what is needed in this community they have chosen to make a difficult time even harder.

KClarinet said...

To Tired Parent:

I happen to agree with a good deal of what you say, as far as criticizing some of the NFT's tactics (back-to-school night, shirts, walking in en masse) is concerned. But we won't ever agree that the union's "intrasigence" is driving the cuts - because we don't agree on whether or not the union is being more intransigent than the board, who have made a public policy of not negotiating the insurance issue. The board is seen by most of those who post to local blogs as being heroic by holding its position firmly. The union is seen by the same people as being greedy and stubborn because it has not accepted the board's non-negotiable position. We have been over that ground thoroughly. We're all pretty much frozen in our attitudes and I for one don't want to rehash them again now.

My wish is that whatever debate takes place is based on verifiable fact. I hate to see whispering-down-the-lane folk tales (the NFT's unwillingness to pay any share of their health care coverage) or half facts (the state prohibits anything more than a 2.9% budget increase for next year). Opinions based logically on facts are always valid as opinions. Opinions shouldn't be based on "facts" that are really nothing more than hearsay.

KClarinet said...

RVN:

"The Teachers are not loosing any money by their stall tactics..."

That's probably true over the short run for senior teachers (those at the highest pay level). It isn't true of the less senior and, especially, the relatively new teachers who would under better circumstances still be climbing the step ladder.

JS said...

KC. The ACT 1 issue and only raising 2.9% is correct. It's the same as saying your taxes are due on April 15th. Yes you can file for an extension, but if you don't then yes your taxes are due. The Board would have had to file a request for the exceptions to ACT 1 (and even then they are restricted to how much they could request and for what. Special Education, Transportation, etc.). Just as everyone who doesn't file a tax extension, the Neshaminy School Board is bound by the 2.9% increase. At this point in the calendar I don't believe they could ask for the exceptions even if they changed their mind.

I've brought this point up in the past that the School Board chose a very unorthodox approach with their contract proposal. Rather than give a bare bones offer (0-1% raise, 25% medical contributions, 8 hour work day, etc.) they offered what they felt was a fair contract and also the maximum of what they felt the taxpayers could afford at this time. Would everyone feel better if the two sides ended up meeting at the middle if the Board had started at such a low point? The teachers would probably have been insulted.

There is a reason why Neshaminy has worked without a contract and districts like Souderton and North Penn have gone on strike. NFT knows how great their last contract was, knows they are going to have to give things up, but knows (probably down to the penny) when it makes financial sense to sign the Board's offer.

The NESPA members are stuck because they can be outsourced (unlike teachers). Sadly they played russian roullette with all the bullets in the gun.

The NFT on the other hand has two sides. One has more to lose by signing, the other has more to lose by waiting. The side that loses by signing are the most senior teachers AND the retired ones. We forget that those younger than 65 will have to start paying 15% if the teachers sign. They won't see any salary/pension increases, but see them pay more per year. There are probably some pretty vocal retirees that don't want to see the NFT sign the offer.

The other side are those teachers losing money because they aren't moving up the step scale. Some could be $10,000 - $15,000 behind where they should be. That population will grow larger the longer the pay scale is frozen.

I only hope that the Board keeps one thing in mind. There should be NO retro pay AT ALL unless there are retro medical payments. If medical contributions aren't retro active then it would only make sense for the NFT to hold off until the last point in the year before the Board says "No retro pay" then sign because they will get that years bump in pay with out paying for the medical premiums of the same period.

KClarinet said...

JS said,
"I only hope that the Board keeps one thing in mind. There should be NO retro pay AT ALL unless there are retro medical payments."

I thought retroactivity was non-negotiable, too.

William O'Connor said...

I was going to comment on Ms. Anderson's letter but I think I will hold off a few days now. A short while ago I read Mr. Webb's response which is being submitted to the Courier, and it covers everything I would have said. So once his letter appears in the Courier, I will post his comments on the Blog.

tiredparent said...

ok! some of the teachers maybe losing but they all are supporting their union I don't see any of them standing up and saying because of us ALL THE CHILDREN ARE LOSING PROGRAMS!

C said...

William you are right about the 5 year price guarantee from the proposed vendors but they will kill you with cost over runs your bids are to specific in work details and all other services will be charged as extras at top rates so don't spend your savings yet because you will see large non bid work bills.

acs said...

Good to hear William. Sad that her fantasy rants are allowed to get in the newspaper. I am not sure I have once heard a single fact come out of her mouth, just one fabrication after another. Not sure why she thinks going after Pastor is productive since the board is in charge and seems to be moving quickly toward outsourcing...kind of odd she wasts her time on him like people really listen to him. She just gives him more credibility.

MAT said...

When was the last time either side has even sat down together? Either with the NESPA or NFT? Does the board keep trying and they all refuse, does someone schedule a meeting and one side doesn't attend? Are they at a complete standstill, neither side willing to talk?

RVN6869 said...

KC,

What I was basically getting at was as long as the Teachers Union doesn't settle. They don't contribute to their Medical which in turn will come out of their pocket. No loss of money.

Sure, their salaries are frozen at the moment and the younger teachers are feeling the pinch of no step raise.

Unfortunately, now that it is Spring and the sun is stronger, I have noticed quite a few For Sale signs popping up in the lawns as well as the flowers. People are getting tired of having to dig deeper each year to live here.

KClarinet said...

RVN said:
"Unfortunately, now that it is Spring and the sun is stronger, I have noticed quite a few For Sale signs popping up in the lawns as well as the flowers."

I'm afraid that happens every Spring - there's not a demonstrable connection to taxes (unless you poll every seller to find out why they're moving). Ask any Realtor. That's an annual rite.

RVN6869 said...

KC,

I am aware that Spring is a busy season for homes to be sold and bought.

The Hot topic in this district right now is Taxes and most of the Taxes paid are to the SCHOOL system. When I drive thru a section that has 100 homes and there are more than 10 signs up. You wonder what is causing this.

I would say that these homes are not accessed at $27,000 as they are less then 20 years old. Allot of the home owners are young or middle aged with children in the school system, many don't have children at all. I also know that a person's job may take them to another state. Or they may not have a job at all now.

My point is, many people that wanted their dream home, may not be able to afford it if there is increased taxes dumped on them year in and year out.

We are all in this boat together, may not seem like it at times, but we are. Some are on the top deck and see what is in view. Some are busy in the boiler room keeping the ship running and are unaware of what is ahead.

I have had converstions with some of my neighbors and their main concern is that they will not be able to stay in their homes that they enjoy. They are nearing retirement and are concerned that once they are on a fixed income, they won't be able to afford the Utility bills, food bills, along with the Taxes.

The Well is running dry. And it isn't summer yet. We will see what happens in June with the final budget.

Unfortunely, the big business in this Country has not completed their cuts. They are phasing it over 2-3 years. Many Companies have a plan to reduce their work force by 40%. Positions are being outsourced to other countries. Why,because of the continued increase in benefits and wages in that company. I will not be surprised when the unemployment goes above 10 % again.

march said...

RVN6869, I disagree with you that it is because of our taxes. Why is it that we are not seeing flight out of CR? I think it is because people see the writing on the wall and that Neshaminy is quickly becoming Bristol. Cut, cut, cut . . . I am thinking of leaving Neshaminy only because my home value will be worth nothing because of the cost cutting. Young families want good schools and many are willing to pay for it which is why they are going to CR.

RVN6869 said...

March,

Why is it that we are not seeing flight out of CR? Young families want good schools and many are willing to pay for it which is why they are going to CR.

You stated some good points. I don't know what goes on at CR, as I don't live there and honestly, I am more concerned about what myself and many of my neighbors face in the future here. I don't have anyone in the school system here and many of my neighbors don't either. We don't live in a over 55 community.

Any parent wants the best for their children, and no one can fault them for that. The only thing that is on the mind of many in the community is the climbing taxes.

There are many in this district that are on fixed incomes. So, should they be forced out, so others can have a good school system ? I'm watching the 10 o'clock news right now and they are interviewing a lady that is now homeless. The shelters have their phones ringing with people wanting to get in because they will be homeless soon.

The taxes have doubled since we moved into the district. I know one person that retired years ago with what he thought was a good pension. Since that time, each year his pension take home has been cut due to the rising healtcare that he pays into. At 70 years old, he went out to get a part time job to try to stay in his house. There was no cost of living adjustment for those on Social Security this year and they were warned that it might not happen next year either.

Yet I read that the NTF want a 6% increase in their pay over the next 3 years. And not contribute to their healthcare.It is a bitter pill for many to swallow when they are unable to work because of age, health problems, and are on fixed incomes.

Mark said...

I am frustrated by the way the term " livable wage" is thrown around. This is an old outdated term that Unions utilize to create a sense that they are not able to live on the wage they are currently getting. The term was coined during the early union organizing days when big business, i.e. coal mines and trucking companies abused employees. Wow have we come a long way. Now they use the team in a different context. the current offer that the Board offered the support staff is certainly more then a "living wage" I would hope that this group comes to their senses quickly and separate themselves from the NFT or else they will be outsourced and any future leverage will be gone. What is the latest on the outsourcing? What is the timeline for getting that done so we can realize the savings?