Thursday, July 28, 2011

New date set for talks

The next negotiation meeting with the NFT will occur on Thursday, August 11th at 6pm.

In an email to the State Mediator, John Cairns, Neshaminy solicitor Chuck Sweet said that "In order for "meaningful negotiations" to occur, which both parties sincerely want, the Board and the community can only anticipate a meaningful response from the NFT to the comprehensive Board counterproposal of July 18, 2011. There will have been ample time for such a response to be developed."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

One man's trash is another man's fiscal restraint

A piece of trash. That's how NFT negotiator Jeff Dunkley referred to the latest Board offer during last night's public meeting. Louise Boyd called it an insult, and on the NFT Facebook page urged "all media to conduct an independent analysis of of the two proposals." Be careful what you ask for.

The Courier Times editorial staff did assess the situation, and they heavily favored the Board's position in this morning's opinion, Neshaminy's new offer: Lessons learned. According to the Courier Times, "If the U.S. Congress handled its affairs in the manner of the Neshaminy school board, debt wouldn’t be an issue." After pointing out some of the more expensive, unaffordable aspects of the current CBA, the editor's conclude "Taxpayers should be pleased that the current board has learned a very expensive lesson."

It's all about perspective. As the NFT sees it, they are being asked to give up a significant amount of the benefits and prestige they achieved in previous contracts. From their point of view, this latest Board offer is so bad that it deserves to be called names. Then there is the public reaction, where people working in the private sector are struggling financially and feel little sympathy for our certified staff's desire to maintain expensive, almost unprecedented benefits that the district cannot afford to pay. And caught in the middle is the Board who strives to find a way to maintain the educational programs for Neshaminy's students.

The NFT is circling its wagons as they insist they are unified as one, and threaten the Board with picketing at their homes and businesses, and issue an ominous warning that they will respond "at an appropriate time and in an appropriate fashion." The Board hasn't flinched and we remain committed to the principles that we began with over 3 years ago. And the public is scratching their heads in disbelief as they see teachers holding up signs that say "negotiate" while their union leaders walked out of Monday's session failing to do just that.

It's unfortunate for our students that there doesn't seem to be an end in sight to this impasse. I think everyone would agree that they deserve better than this. We need to do something to kick start these negotiations and make them more productive. The second thing we should do is allow videotaping and reporting of the sessions.

The first thing we should do is agree that nobody should abandon talks by storming out of the room.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Neshaminy in the news

After yesterday's NSB press conference followed by the NFT walking out of negotiations, it's easy to understand why there is no shortage of press coverage. News clips appeared last night on TV reports on CBS 3, NBC 10, and Fox 29. And if you haven't caught this morning's print/online media coverage, here are several reports from the locals . . .

Bucks County Courier Times

Philadelphia Inquirer

Monday, July 18, 2011

Board publishes latest offer to NFT

Board Proposal to NFT - Final - July 18, 2011 (D549988)

NFT accuses Board of insulting teachers, refuses further negotiations

Meeting #31 lasted little more than a few minutes as the NFT attorney, Tom Jennings, proclaimed that the Board's latest offer has "insulted every teacher," and he added that the union would respond in an "appropriate manner."

Board president Ritchie Webb asked to schedule additional dates for talks but the NFT refused to consider his request.

No further meetings are scheduled at this time.


Board unveils new proposal

Prior to this evening's negotiation session with the NFT, the Board released the details of its latest contract proposal to the media. A copy of the new offer was sent to the NFT earlier in the day.

Below are the highlights of the new offer. A copy of the new proposal itself will be posted tomorrow.

Stay tuned for an update later this evening on the status of tonight's negotiation session.

Highlights of NSB Offer to NFT 07182011

Friday, July 1, 2011

NFT to harass board members at home, work

During their May 31st meeting with the rank and file, NFT officials unveiled their plan to take the battle to Board members’ front doors – literally. As union leaders summarized their efforts to date, they revealed to membership their 4-step plan which includes:

* Phone connect system [robot dialing] with school board members
* Picketing board member homes/businesses

Here is an unedited copy of the NFT’s Future Actions . . .

NFT May 31 Presentation Page 29

In June 2010, teachers became upset when an unknown resident started circulating letters to select neighborhoods which contained names and salaries of teachers living around them. I had at least ten teachers who came to me out of concern about this action, one even showing up at my home. I agreed such an action was highly inappropriate in a 6/24/2010 blog post where I made such comments as:

“Letters have been mailed throughout the Neshaminy area that list the names and salaries of teachers in specific developments …”

“One thing it is for sure is gutless …”

“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 …”

Apparently these same teachers who came to me for help back then have no problem with people being harassed at home now, just as long as it isn’t them. Gutless.

At the last board meeting, the NFT objected to statements that some parents feared retribution from teachers against their children and themselves, and they did not hesitate to yell over parents and board members to make their point. How ironic they decried such concerns when all along, unbeknownst to attendees of that meeting, retaliatory measures had already been planned against the Board.

Since day one of these negotiations, teachers have felt misunderstood and unappreciated as they followed their union leaders like lemmings to the sea. And when the public reacts angrily to this latest revelation, they’ll wonder why so many in our community continue to harbor frustration and resentment towards them.

If they don’t get it by now, I’m not sure they ever will.