Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Parents plan "silent protest"

There is an interesting article in today's Courier Times about two parents organizing a protest this Thursday at Maple Point, which is the site of the next meeting between the Board's Negotiation Team and representatives from the NFT.

A few thoughts about this . . .

* Kudos to these parents for getting involved and for exercising their right to free speech.

* What I don't understand is why a certain local Facebook personality who claims to be an advocate for the children would label this protest as a bad idea. Even worse is that they appear to be deleting comments from residents who support the protest.

* NFT President Louise Boyd is quoted in today's article as saying, "It's unfortunate that the district has taken more than two years to even consider serious negotiations and that's the reason we are where we are today." Really Louise, REALLY??? And I suppose your refusal to put employee health care contributions on the table has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that so little progress has been made in more than two years.

* And the quote of the year from the NFT Prez, "Work-to-contract is completely legal and it is just one of several bargaining tools that we will utilize . . ." . Translation = YOUR CHILDREN are a bargaining tool. I think human shield is a more accurate description.

Sounds like Thursday is going to be quite an eventful day!
.

30 comments:

Susan said...

Well said!

Levittowner said...

I agree completely with what you wrote, Mr. OConnor.

Is there any chance the school kids will see the protest? I am thinking of coming, but don't want the kids involved at all.

I hope the next contract makes it completely clear what a teacher's duties are since we cannot count on them being professional at times like these. They are not above kidnapping our children's education to try and get what they want.

Board..stay strong..parents do some voting this November to make some real changes to the union's power.

acs said...

WOW William, You have taken off the gloves. Bravo!
You told it like it is on both our NSD "personalities". Every time Louise speaks and writes the community learns her agenda and it is pretty pretty ugly.
Then we have another FB sycophant/personality that tows the NFT line every day. Some people don't get it that this time it is different. This time there will not be the story book ending the NFT always got before.

debmetz said...

I will be there on Thursday supporting my child and my school board, who is working diligently on our behalf! Louise Boyd has her head up her butt! She needs to stop blaming everyone else for her incompetency! Why hasn't SHE put any offer on the table prior to August's offer? Because, when the going is good...keep it going! Their Rolls Royce package continues until a new deal is made, that is why!!! Parents/taxpayers are fed up!

JS said...

The "FB personality" is finding out how hard it is to take a public stand on issues.

They have prided themselves in having inside information, but that information will dry up if she starts advocating any action against the teachers (above wearing t-shirts at meetings).

As much as I dislike Larry Pastor's venom in a lot of his statements, I at least give him credit to keep to his opinions and not worrying that some toes will be stepped on.

I realize you don't like rumor or speculation, but I have been talking to more teachers lately (and not just in Neshaminy). There apparently is starting to be a big well up of worry across districts. They are worried that while they are being told by their union leaders "we're staying strong for you", that in those leaders minds there are "acceptable casualties" (i.e. losing teaching jobs).

There are other things that the District/Administrators are doing that their union tells them they shouldn't be concerned about, but some are starting to wonder. I'm not going to say, because I believe the actions are an appropriate risk mitigation should a "hard ball" approach ever need to be undertaken. Just know that if those actions are a strategy on the part of the District, it is getting noticed on the teacher side, if still dismissed by the union leaders.

Now in specific regard to the NFT's most recent proposal. Are there any numbers available as to what the premium difference is between the current Medical plan and the one offered by the NFT?

The current 15% contribution for a family plan amounts to about $3000. If the NFT's offer saves $2000 per family plan, then offer the teachers between 6-9% contributions. You save the same amount of money. They are paying a percentage, and it is not as big a shock to take home pay.

If the NFT's offer saves less than $2000, then up the percentage (7-10,8-11, etc.)

If that doesn't prove that the NSB isn't about "we need our 15%" I don't know what would be.

Neo Con said...

Just a reminder to JS- do not forget the "me too" clause that now covers the entire district for health care contributions.

I Must Be Living in Jersey said...

I must compliment you Mr. O on your willingness to publish different comments here and on facebook yet keep control so things don't get out of hand. Some of the things being said on the courier web are beyond nasty and go into personal attacks.
I love your brand of tough talk because it stays on topic of the issues and it really drives the point home. Thank you and the other board members for being strong and taking a stand for the students and taxpayers!

American said...

Any one who has every had a job and was asked to stay late, show up early, do work that is not there job, work though there lunch with out any extra pay or even a pat on the back would never stay at that job for very long. Teachers do this everyday of the school year. Teachers do this on the weekend and the 2 months they have off for the summer.
Levittowner- You want the Teachers to sign a contract the said " you will work overtime with no extra pay to help children with there home work" Teachers do this!! You would never work for a company like that, why then ask someone else to?
Work to contract = Teachers are not going to work for free until there is a new contract.
I am not a Teacher just a American.

scrubb said...

Hey American, last time I looked all of us were Americans here. That doesn't mean we have to blindly support teachers who expect us to pay for their healthcare 100% while being faced with cutting education for our children. I was a union guy years ago too so it's not like I think all unions are evil. It's just that these teachers have an unreal expectation at how they should be compensated. If they took the boards offer they would be getting great insurance at 15%, they would be getting a 3% pay increase. Most of them will be making over $90,000 a year. Does that sound so horrible to you?

I Must Be Living in Jersey said...

Before you start supporting your union brethren American, just remember that when the nespa workers were in dispute with the board, not one teacher ever got up and supported them or stood on a picket line with them.
These aren't blue collar workers trying to make ends meet. These are elitests who think we should continue to pay for everything they want even if it means taxpayers go broke.

Face said...

On May 22nd of this year I said, "...But I am imploring you, please do not step down into the irrational and emotional fray that will become the next few weeks. All of this was forseeable and now it is coming to pass. Fortunately for us, it will fall to you to get us out of this mess. I still have hope."

HA! Do I ever feel like an idiot. In fact, re-reading my words started to make me sick. I was complimentary in the extreme. I recognize that you spend countless hours away from your real job and your family to serve the community and I appreciate it. However, when Larry "the 10th board member" Pastor writes, "WOW William, You have taken off the gloves. Bravo!", what does THAT say?
Throughout the summer, as your blog faded in favor of the more rabid local celebrity FB pages (and Larry's blog with all of it's thundering TRUTH!), your tone and commentary grew adversarial and out of line. Have you forgotten why you were elected?
It isn't your job, as I see it, to fuel the public inferno with loaded commentary and "impartial" updates. Who are you trying to kid? Nor, do I think, is it your job to be the only one who ever seems to be available with a quote for the BCCT-RAG. I'm sure when Rachel handed her notes to Christian there was a huge flourescent stickie note on the "NSD" file with your phone number on it. Give me a break!

You were the guy. The one who was going to keep all of the disparate pieces on the board together. And they are together and that is great! So why do you have to play to the crowd so much? I had no idea you would behave like this under these circumstances. I still have a miniscule amount of hope that you will distance yourself from Larry Pastor-realstory-broketaxpayer-acs, etc., He is so very condescending to you and, quite frankly, us in the community. HIS website is THE source of TRUTH! It is THE place where people go for COMPLETE TRUTH! Yes, I do have an issue with the man's politics and I am trying to stifle myself, but he is entitled to feel however he wants personally. However, I am concerned that he has his fingerprints all over everything. And do you really want to be so closely allied with someone who likens a labor dispute to physical assault on children??? Disturbing. He is simply an intelligent man with big political ideals, a taste for melodramatic sound bites, and an amateurish "insert Fox News personality here" approach. You are better than that though. You have heart. I voted for you, not LP. Please understand that there are people in this community who want this settled in a fair and equitable way but without the freak show. If you think that your strategy as an elected official is working, well, by God, keep it up. Lather away...

Levittowner said...

In the past it was part of a teacher's professional duties to work outside their "hours" to help students..grade homework..attend back to school nights ect. It didn't have to be in a contract and it was (I assume) why they get some of the summer off and get paid so well.

WTC has proven we can no longer take for granted whether teachers will do all they need to do to meet the needs of the students. The union has made it clear that if it's not in the contract it's not getting done. Back to school night must be in future contracts..helping students who require help after school must be in the contract..meeting with parents as needed must be in the contract..or else students will suffer through this again. Can't happen.


Btw..I know in NJ of at least one school district that does have being at back to school night and participating in clubs as part of the contract.

Levittowner said...

It is one thing to vent here on blogs and all, but we do have to be careful because this community has to come together when this is all over. There are some factions that want all and all out war here. And I believe they care as much about the children as the union apparently seems to.

While its great to have a bully help you fight the other bully..watch out when the fight is over..you may not want him as your friend anymore.

Having written that..I think what Mr Oconnor hears is very real public outrage. I know..I for one... feel completely helpless at times. I'm watching with an anxious and heavy heart to make sure my children's education doesn't suffer. It's not easy watching your children be put in the middle and used as pawns. The rub is that there is no easy way out..the union wants too much..they really aren't conceding to anything of import...and they have made it very obvious our children are just bargaining chips. So..here we anxiously sit. But at least I feel like we have a champion in this board..and we have somewhere we can go to get unbiased information and see that the board is behind us and we are behind the board. We weren't able to do this before Mr. Oconnor came along. I for one..appreciate his loyalty to what is right in this district.standing up for the children and parents in this.

KClarinet said...

JS wrote:
"The current 15% contribution for a family plan amounts to about $3000. If the NFT's offer saves $2000 per family plan, then offer the teachers between 6-9% contributions. You save the same amount of money. They are paying a percentage, and it is not as big a shock to take home pay.

If the NFT's offer saves less than $2000, then up the percentage (7-10,8-11, etc.)"

If that doesn't prove that the NSB isn't about "we need our 15%" I don't know what would be."

And that would be truly negotiating - about two years late but better than never. I don't know what the NFT response to this kind of proposal would be - and the response would be crucial to any further progress - but it would be an active step away from a "non-negotiable" demand of 15%-17%.

I, too, will be interested in the actual budgetary value of the NFT's proposals.

acs said...

William, Keep doing what you are doing. This is a different day and time. Ms. Boyd and the union only want what they always got- a win lose conclusion. They have always won at all costs to students and taxpayers. Now it is our turn. Your evolution to finally exposing Louise at the May 19th meeting was outstanding to watch. You are a great SB director and frankly I think you would be a great State Rep. Don't let the wimps get you down....this can and must be won by the board or the consequences that the bloggers here do not want to acknowledge is that our district will be dismantled program by program to give the NFT what they demand. Simple math.

acs said...

The alternative to taxpayers i.e. our board winning this time is a complete ultimate economic failure of our district. If you think I am melodramatic get a budget and run the numbers like I have out 5 years with the dream team Boyd and Schmidt getting what they countered. This counter demonstrates they will destroy NSD before caving so we are in this for several more years and at least one more board team I imagine.

Mark said...

Simply put, dialog and discussion is the American way. L.P. is a passionate person that has his views and beliefs and I commend him for them. The fact that he and William are willing to spend time on informing the community about board and community related ideas is what this country is all about. You know when the founding fathers decided on building this great country they realized that all government is local. Getting involved in local government, politics is a great thing and I am personally humbled by all the work that William and Larry do. To try and character assassinate any of them means that you do not have any answers to their positions. Teachers work 185 days for a job that pays for the entire year. They want retro pay and full health care without contributing to their premiums. They want $30k when they retire, and full benefits with 85% pension. Those are the issues nothing else. When does it end? They have tenure so they can't be fired. We can't lay them off unless we cut programs. We can't tax our way out of this because of Act 1. Who has the answer to this? Come to the table with a solution and stop character assassinating people who are involved and are providing their perspective. William was a community activist before he was elected and he remains one today. The level of information he is sharing with the public is extraordinary. I can tell you that he is doing a great job representing me and my children and I am glad that he still advocates for the entire community.

William O'Connor said...

Thank you all for your supportive comments. And thank you for your comments too, Face, because while I feel my actions to date have been reasonable and appropriate, I appreciate the fact that you had different expectations of me.

Realistically speaking said...

Why is it left to the NFT to determine what is NOT in the contract, when will the admin step in and say the words may not be there but it is custumary, expected and therefore required? The SB has no say in this? Activities like BTSN, graduation, class trips, appropriate classroom atmosphere are all part of the job! This is not an hourly wage type job with a job description of specific duties. It is a profession that goes beyond that. You do what is necessary, and you know that going in. I can't stand this hiding behind the union. Mr Muenker DO SOMETHING! Enforce the letter you sent out-they are laughing in your face! WTC is legal action, that is true, but why is it only the union who can pick and choose which actions to do. This is not "Work To Contract" this is "Work to what we feel like" because we know we can get away with it. PLEASE get better legal representation, we are getting no where fast.

Cyndie said...

I am now embarrassed that I trusted you Mr. O'Connor that the minute I Disagree with a strategy you attack me. Let us not forget that it was me that first to the initiative to get parents to come to the meetings in masses.
I do not agree with protesting a negotiation meeting - it is not the right venue. Let the meeting go on uninterrupted and be productive. I also stand by decision to NOT publicize nasty comments made about either the NFT or the NSB. Not matter how much you or Larry Pastor Beat me up!!! It is unprofessional and I will not stoop to that level. Funny how you don't complain when I delete the nasty remarks about the board. I hope this "protest" goes without incident. Good Luck!

JS said...

Neo Con, the Me Too clause wouldn't matter because if you are saving the same amount, it doesn't matter if the other groups get the same coverage.

The lower premium costs means that a year to year increase won't be as high, and the percentage would help counter that. If the NFT's offer really does lower premium costs, then it only makes sense to ask for a lower percentage.

Sophie said...

What is wrong here? An teachers life is saved by another staff member and there are no comments? But if there is an opportunity to bad mouth the current situation, there are 18? I just don't get it!

William O'Connor said...

Cyndie, while I understand your disagreement with my blog comments, I ask you to consider a few things . . .

First, you say that you no longer "trust" me. What do you base trust on? Is it honesty or transparency? Because I defy you to give a single instance where I have either deceived you or misled you. Compare that to the people to whom you've given your trust despite the numerous times they have misled you. It wasn't too long ago that you banned a number of teachers from your Facebook page for not being forthright with you (that was your claim, not mine). Even more recently those you trust above all others gave you false info about the delivery of the NFT counter offer. And when your NFT contact told you that they requested BTS night be rescheduled, you were all set to believe it without even checking. You proudly proclaim not to be a board puppet, but quite frankly we are not the ones pulling your strings.

Next point, when have I EVER defended the use of nasty comments against anyone? Again, I ask you to provide proof to back up your statement. Correct me if I am wrong, but haven't I on several occasions defended your right to delete nasty comments on your own FB page? What I do find objectionable is that you deleted comments that were fair and respectful only because the authors disagreed with your perspective. This leads me to my third point . . .

It's perfectly fine that your opinion differs from mine on this event, but you called it "dumb". I find that description to be extremely demeaning coming from someone who demands civility and respect. Parents have every right to demonstrate for whatever reasons they wish. If the status of negotiations is so fragile that the mere presence of a few angry parents will derail them, then I say to you that these negotiations are doomed before they begin.

Here is the bottom line: After 2+ years of talks, the NFT still has yet to put employee health care premium contributions on the table, yet they still require well-above average raises (with retro, no less), and they won't yield on a $27.5k retirement perk. The costs of these things are well in excess of Act 1 limits, so every single year we are in cost-cutting mode before we've even considered a single improvement to any of our educational programs. And rather than continuing to negotiate on equal terms with the Board, the NFT has resorted to one of their "bargaining tools" by dragging our children into the middle of their WTC action.

Somehow you cannot understand why parents would want to rally just before a negotiation meeting? Like the last 2 years of talks have gone so well that their presence might actually ruin it??? These parents aren't protesting the negotiations, they are protesting the lack of progress. And in my book, they have every right and reason to do so.

I apologize for rambling, and I also regret that our relationship is strained over this. I respect what you've tried to do over the past few months, but I'm getting the sense your loyalty is being pulled in two different directions. I hope I'm wrong. Regardless, good luck to you and your ongoing efforts to keep parents informed.

KIDSFIRST said...

William you are right on about the bottom line and why parents plan to protest! The longer this goes on however, the angrier everyone gets. So please keep this a peaceful protest as planned. The kids are watching. They check the newspapers and watch FOX29 to see the latest on Neshaminy. Let's set a good example. If you distribute flyers and hold up signs please atleast make sure to check your spelling. The kids notice that too.

Levittowner said...

Does anyone have an answer to my previously posted question? Will students be coming from after school activities in the area of the parent protest? I'm not sure where the buses are in relationship to where the protest will take place.thanks!

st319 said...

My statement is off topic but I just had to speak up....

I think it is a disservice to mention Mr. O’Connor and Larry Pastor in the same sentence, much less state that they think the same way when it comes to what’s right for Neshaminy. (Sorry, I couldn’t figure out away to not do it and make my point. Last time...promise!) They couldn’t be more different. Mr. O’Connor has always looked out for the Neshaminy kids and taxpayers. Mr. Pastor is only looking out for himself and his political aspirations. One can see that by the long-winded speeches he gives at every school board meeting. And now we have another posturing themselves by the name of Shubin, who ran and lost against Mr. O’Connor in the last election, doing the same thing.

It’s time for the board to reinstate the three minute rule and keep politics out of public comment. That goes for board members too. Mr. Morris’ political display at the last meeting was a disgrace, not to mention that you could see that he was enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame. It is one thing to tell the public to ask the candidates what they stand for, another to only talk about the current representatives. That goes for both parties.

William O'Connor said...

The last Maple Point late bus leaves at 5pm.

NicAndy said...

Is it just me or has everyone completely lost their minds? Everyone is so caught up in their own personal and political agendas, that we have completely lost all objectivity. Mr. Pastor publicly makes threatening statements during his last "soapbox" speech to the Board, and NOT ONE person on that Board or panel attempted to stop him?!?!?!?! I would imagine that if a student were to make those same comments, that there would be some sort of disciplinary infraction handed out. I am so fed up with the state of things in this District! It has turned into a 3 ring circus, and we look like buffoons! Of course, FOX News is more than happy to exploit the situation for ratings. I am really starting to reconsider swaying my support in favor of the NFT. The behaviors and comments of Mr. Pastor, Mr. Morris, and numerous others have been a total disgrace! I may not necessarily agree with Ms. Boyd or Ms. Schmidt, but at least their comments are violence-free.

Ysmith said...

What happens if there is a strike? Do teachers still get paid? Do they lose anything (benefits, healthcare etc)?
I need you to explain this "contract", i don't understand how they can be working under the "old " contract? Doesn't this contract have specific dates on it, meaning that once the end date approaches that the contract is void? How does this work? I have read the "old contract" & would like to know why does it have words like encouraged to do things instead of REQUIRED? Is this contract being reworded so that work to contract is clear? Finally, I have been told that there is nothing that can be done, no legal recourse, no one can be fired, it's basically how long we can hold out & no one has ever won against the NTF? I have a few realtor friends & their clients don't want to look at houses in the neshaminy school district - this is getting worse. I don't want you to fold to the union, I personally don't see why you are offering them raises in a time when our economic future is uncertain & people in our community are losing there jobs, houses etc. I personally can't afford for my taxes to be raised. Greed it's a horrible thing.

KClarinet said...

Mr. O'Connor asked, "... when have I EVER defended the use of nasty comments against anyone?"

Your own comment, "YOUR CHILDREN are a bargaining tool. I think human shield is a more accurate description," conjuring up as it must (whether intended or not) images of middle-eastern terrorists holding children in front of them to shield them from hostile gunfire, is in my opinion nasty enough in itself and one of the more irrational things I've read here. Implicitly comparing Neshaminy teachers to terrorists is as clear an indicator as anything that emotion has totally replaced reason in this.

Dialog is on thing. This kind of image is way over the top.