Friday, March 5, 2010

Teacher's Union Agrees to Re-Open Negotiations...yeah, right.

Posted by: Noel Jones

So the big news in the paper today is that the teachers union has offered to re-open negotiations on their five year teachers contract, which guarantees teachers a 5% raise every year regardless how much voting taxpayers are struggling to make ends meet in a recession that economists are now predicting will double-dip.

Below is the article by Colin McEvoy of the Express Times:

Express Times Article on Teacher's Union Reopening Contract Negotiations

Now, the union head, Kevin Deely, is calling for cuts from the board:
  • Administrators must take pay cuts--(Hear, hear! Especially since they got us into this mess)
  • Accrediation for Growth (AFG), which is headed by the board president's sister-in-law, Linda Fisher, should be cut completely (Terrific!)
  • Some athletic programs and other extra-curricular programs should be cut (Sad but necessary)
Sounds great so far, right? One catch--Deely is also calling for the board to:
  • Levy the maximum tax hike on residents (believe me, I was tempted to find an image of a giant middle finger for this one)
And--Deely says:
  • Teachers do not want to give up their annual 5% pay raises (what?!)
To demand that administrators take pay cuts and taxpayers take a maximum pay hike while refusing to give up teacher pay raises, not only strikes me as hypocritical, it hits on my favorite pet peeve--people insulting my intelligence. "Re-opening negotiations" without being willing to reduce pay raises, is a disingenuous way of trying to get credit for being flexible when they are not willing to budge on the most expensive issue in the contract, after pensions. But that's for the school board to put on the table on behalf of residents--and it is for us to show up and make ourselves heard loud and clear.

Please mark your calendars for the third and fourth Thursdays of this month at 6:30pm--those will be the next two meetings where residents can weigh in on what sort of cuts they want the school board and the teachers union to make to ease the burden on taxpayers. Come out and fight this tax hike with us--unless you don't mind paying and extra 11.85% in property taxes this year!


Anonymous said...

oops I placed my comments on the wrong page -- they should be here --

this blog keeps referring to nepotism as bad. I agree that if the individual only gets their job that way it is wrong. But let me give an example, no two examples of where this isn't bad -- Alfredean Jones was one of the finest principals in our district and yes is is a Black American. His son Dean is a teacher at the Easton Academy and what a great role model. The same is tru of Bill Houston's daughters. We have a hard to recruiting minority teachers. But isn't it great that parents have instilled in their children a sense of pride in their community that they actually stay here and contribute.

This is not to be confused with the Vulcano case. Yes, that was nepotism at its worse because there were other applicants that were certified. That's the difference. I am sure she was an excellent teacher and a product of Easton schools. If she was certified she deserved the position. Unfortunately she wasn't and didn't use the time there to get certified.

Sandra Walters Weiss said...

I agree Anon,I know the Jones family and have known Mr.Houston for years and you are right...They have all given to the Community and deserve their positions.As for Ms.Vulcano,I agree there too,if she got her certification then we would not be writing about this...but as far as re-opening the contract.There I am adamant about the need for fiscal responsibility and believe that since the District is close to a State takeover drastic action needs to be taken and issues such as dress codes and cyber schools are being used as a distraction of the real issues. I interact with a lot of children in my neighborhood and also talk to parents.Parents are fed up,kids feel they are being picked on,discriminated and generally the stories they tell me about school has me wondering just what is going on.The finest education should be provided to our children but not at the expense of people loosing their homes. I remember when School first started and the secretary's went on strike. I stood at the bus stop and talked with parents whose children did not know what bus they were on or what kindergarten to attend am or pm. Now what happened there???? So renegotiate,only if there are some drastic cuts that do not reflect a quality education!!!!! Wake up folks,get involved or the State is going to be running EASD

noel jones said...

Anon 8:44--no problem--I deleted the comment from the other post since you've reposted it here, so as not to confuse anyone.

nepotism is bad. it IS the granting of a job, position, award, etc. to a family member over other qualified applicants, rather than letting that family member be considered as a candidate in an equal playing field. i agree, there is nothing wrong with people in the same family working within the same municipality or company, as long as they aren't being picked over other more qualified candidates. there should be no advantage. aside from being unethical, it drives the quality of a town down and down because that town's best and brightest don't have the chance to rise to the top due to nepotism (and croneyism).

in the Vulcano incident, the case is obvious. in the case of Pat Fisher's sister-in-law, Linda Fisher, being made the head of Accreditation for Growth, which no other local school district uses, costing taxpayers $500-600K/year, and not managing to keep EHS out of Corrective Action II for its 3rd year, there are a few issues. 1. why was taxpayer money used to create the department at all? 2. Regardless of Linda Fisher's 30 years experience as a teacher, she is not the only teacher in the district with that much experience. And teaching experience is not administrative experience, yet she was appointed the head of an administrative body. It leaves the public to wonder how open the application process was...

Elected officials have a responsibility to be extra transparent in their hiring processes to avoid suspicions of nepotism or croneyism from the public, otherwise, public trust is damaged, whether the person hired is good at his/her job or not.

Sandra Walters Weiss said...

Very well put Noel,nepotism and back door deals are exactly why the District is in the mess that it is. An administrative position with that kind of salary I would think would require an MBA in business management not taking away the years of teaching experience which has value but I would have liked to see how that position was offered to the public sector and exactly what the job description was at the time of hiring.I am still aghast at the salary levels to begin with given the quality of education "our" children seem to be receiving.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is fair that the school district and or teachers' union get away with increasing taxes and getting 5% raises in a time when everyone has to tighten their belts. I am a state employee and it is hard when you think your benefits are going to be cut or scaled back yet you still have a hard job to do and in some case twice the work. However, almost 12% is alot to put on the taxpayers. Because of the economy, in some cases taxes are the last expense being paid by people. Teachers do deserve to be fairly compensated for a hard job but at a time when everything is more expensive and people are struggling to get by, now is not the time to bring this to the table.

Anonymous said...

It gets tiring. Making ends meet gets more difficult for the average person/family each year. How many people in our community been layed off and still can't find work? How many people in our community have had to give up health insurance because they'd rather eat? Asking for a 5% pay raise in this economic environment is insane. Same line of thinking as AIG, Goldman Sachs, big banks, etc. Time to start thinking about how we can work together as a community. Not 'what I can get out of the deal'. Be thankful you have jobs.

noel jones said...

Anon 4:58--well said!--that's exactly how i feel about it:

"Time to start thinking about how we can work together as a community. Not 'what I can get out of the deal'."

Marty said...

Who is our top negotiator ( I'm sure that the union will send a very capable one) What chance do we have if our school board handles this? We may end up in a worse situation than we have now. We already told them to make these cuts, not so the teachers could make out better, but so taxes wouldn't get raised. PSERS reform and 5% raise is all they should worry about. I say base teachers pay on student performance. We are in corrective II for the last 3 years and no end in sight. Get rid of the AFG, all the Vulcanos, and the swimming pool for a start! Put monies for capitol projects back in the general fund! Reading, writing, arithmatic and 1 science class is what these kids need to learn right now! If a class does not teach one of these, get rid of it.( or at least teach one of these 4 and how it relates to that subject) The time for change is now!i"ll be at the pub if you wanna debate...

noel jones said...

Marty--good idea. I think we should all go to Porters after the meeting with the Senator tomorrow! Good question as to our lead negotiator...Jen Holzberger will be there from the school district tomorrow night--she's a good person to ask.