Thursday, June 24, 2010

Over the top, under the wire

So much going on. Some good, some not. I'm out of town on business so I'll give you the short version. Two main items of interest, starting with the good news . . .

Under the wire
It came down to the 11th hour but I have to give some serious props to NESPA leadership for coming through with a good offer. If approved by the rank and file tonight, this deal will help ease the burden on tax payers and it will prevent jobs from being outsourced. I had pretty much given up hope of a win-win scenario here, but the Support Staff really stepped up.

To Mindy Anderson and the rest of NESPA, a heartfelt thank you

And now, onto the not-so pleasant news . . .

Over the top
Whenever the teachers took actions that I thought were inappropriate, such as protesting at back-to-school night or the more recent WTC action, I made no secret of my feelings. Well, something else happened this week that has me steaming, but this time it is not the NFT.

Letters have been mailed throughout the Neshaminy area that list the names and salaries of teachers in specific developments, and then encourages neighbors of those teachers to speak out against them. What's worse is the person(s) sending out this letter did not have the courage to show their name, but instead referred to themselves as a "Tax Payer".

The pièce de résistance is they put the Neshaminy school district address as the sender on the envelope, giving the appearance that the district approved of this mailing. I do not know if that is considered mail fraud, but it should be. One thing it is for sure is gutless.

Whether this letter is legal or not isn't the point. The bottom line here is that it is just flat out wrong. Discussions about the NFT contract should occur at Board meetings and other appropriate public venues. At no time should anyone take action that brings the debate to a person's front door. But that's what this person did, and they did so anonymously. Not exactly what I'd consider a stand-up guy (by the way, speculation of who the author is will NOT be accepted under comments, so please save me the trouble and DON'T).

If you couldn't attend last night's meeting, the Courier Times carried a good summary in today's edition. And in a truly rare event, both the Board and NESPA were complimented in the Courier's editorial.

See you at next Tuesday's final meeting of the school year.


Glen said...

"if the teachers negotiate a better health plan, the support union's agreement includes a clause that lets them upgrade their health benefits"

So if the teacher get a $20,000 annual plan per family, the union can upgrade from their $15,000 a year plan and the tax payers pick up the difference? Bill, why does our business-minded board continue to permit these clauses? I believe there is a similar clause is in the administration's agreement. Stop it now.

William O'Connor said...

Glen, If I were in the other labor groups, I would insist on an equity clause, too. Why should they make deals that give back to the district and tax payers, and then see that savings used to benefit the NFT?

I look at it as insurance . . . there is no way that we can fall back in our position with the NFT or we will have lost all the savings we have just gained. We simply cannot afford to do that.

Don't fear the equity clauses. If nothing else, they keep the pressure on this board and future ones to hold the line on expensive labor contracts.

William O'Connor said...

Oh, one other thing Glen . . . Please call me William.

Glen said...

I don't get it and maybe I never will. These are separate unions representing different people, different jobs. If you're telling me its a net zero to taxpayers, I'm fine with the piggyback clause. If, however, there is any chance that our costs go up when the next union steps in, then I say the practice has to stop. Accumulating variable costs is no way to operate. The $2M in savings is a best guess and the reality is we won't know until the teaches settle and then the adminstration and support staff med costs are re-calculated with the clause. Maybe it's not millions but I also assume it's not a pack of crayons either.

Neo Con said...

Good work William on this breakthrough. Now, how do we go about getting back the raises that the district gave the administrators since the hard working support staff gave up theirs for 3 years and is in-effect taking a pay cut? NESPA showed class in "taking one for the team" now I think its high time the TEACHERS and ADMINISTRATORS followed suit!

William O'Connor said...

Neo Con, the other labor groups who accepted the Board's contract offer did receive their raises BUT they also started kicking in for benefits and gave up free retirement health care. They gave up more than they got, and the 3% increases was their incentive to do so. Had NESPA accepted the same offer first given to them, they would have been in the exact same position.
The important thing next is that the NFT needs to see the handwriting on the wall. Significant employee contributions to health care must happen. There is no way to avoid it. We could hit the $100 million lottery tomorrow and that would not change the fact that free health care is no longer a viable option.

Neo Con said...

William, thanks for responding to my question, it's good to see that people are still committed to the conversation. I was hoping that NESPA would have come to the realization that by the time many of their members reached the age of retirement health benefits would not be offered to them. They are dilluded if they think that this unsustainable system would be there for them 5 to 10 years down the road.

acs said...

William, I think the best reason for not outsourcing was the subsequent litigation that would have tied us up for years and that the board would likely lose. Webb eluded to it. I think outsourcing busing was the right thing but if the board can balance the budget and not have deficits next year this was a good deal all around and avoids even more turmoil in NSD with the NFT contract outstanding.