Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sincere gesture or PR stunt?

That's the debate Neshaminy residents are asking themselves after Friday's NFT press release which suggests that the issue of employee health care contributions are now on the table.

Undoubtedly the timing of such an announcement raises doubt given the emergence of the new NFT public relations campaign. The blogs and Facebook pages are full of comments from citizens warning the board not to be fooled by what they deem to be elaborate NFT trickery. Yet there are others who are cautiously optimistic, hoping that NFT leadership has finally seen the light after 2+ years of fruitless negotiations.

Let me say something that will hopefully give comfort to both sides . . .

First, why not be optimistic? There's no harm in allowing ourselves to feel hopeful that maybe we've turned a corner here. And the Board's negotiation team should head into the next session ready and willing to hear what the NFT has to say.

But while we bask in the joy of our newly-found good feeling, we must remember that the numbers haven't changed; the Act 1 inflationary limit for next year is still just 1.4% (about $1.6 million), we still have $40 million worth of badly needed building upgrades, and the economy is still not in good shape. The desire to settle a contract dispute cannot trump an unaffordable situation.

If there is a danger to all of this, it would be if the whole thing is a PR stunt after the NFT created the expectation that employee health care contributions are on the table. The Teacher's union already lacks credibility with the public, and if Louise Boyd wasn't being sincere in her gesture, then the NFT will have made a strategic blunder from which they can never recover.


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