Monday, May 23, 2011

Stalemate drags on

For Neshaminy residents who have been paying attention to the contract impasse, there really isn't anything new in today's Philadelphia Inquirer article although there are a few interesting insights, most notably this from Louise Boyd:

Boyd, a biology teacher at the high school, said the union would agree to have teachers share health-care costs as part of a total package they could accept.

But every time it has informally signaled its willingness, she said, the board has backed away and pushed a broader set of demands that include a longer school year, changes in the grievance procedure, and mandatory drug testing. As the union has "inched in" toward common ground, Boyd said, the school board has "moved away."

I'm sure you're wondering what "signaled its willingness" means. To my knowledge, there has never been a direct signal or hint from the NFT to the Board in this regard. On one occasion the mediator, through an email, did ask our solicitor, Chuck Sweet, how flexible the Board might be on the contribution percentage, and Mr. Sweet replied quite appropriately that the Board will not bargain via email, especially when the NFT has never "given us a number" regarding health care contributions.

If this was the signal Ms. Boyd is referring to, it certainly is not quite as clear as her much more direct statement about concessions during a December 2010 interview with the Inquirer which said . . .

Boyd, the union leader in Neshaminy, said teachers merely wanted to maintain their standard of living, and she rejected the notion of giving back to help the community. "We're not doing that," she said. "I don't want to make less. I don't want to ask you to make less this year than last year."

Also interesting in today's article is a quote from a parent who believes WTC is still an active strategy in some cases as she points out, "I love my children's teachers." But one child, she said, is being told to do her homework in class, one of the things many teachers did during the work-to-contract period last year. "How is that a really great learning experience, if you're only doing what the minimum is?"

Two things haven't changed - There has been no progress in negotiations since day 1, and our financial picture in Neshaminy hasn't gotten any better. If there is any hope for a solution, we need to see it in the form of real concessions from the teachers union. We need action, not hints.

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