Friday, December 31, 2010

Reactions to NFT Press Release

An article in today's Bucks County Courier Times included comments from NFT President Louise Boyd. School Board President Ritchie Webb responded with the following statement, some of which was included in today's article:

The NFT, in its latest press release dated December 29, 2010, asks about the commitment of the Neshaminy School Board to the current collective bargaining process. The Board has been and remains completely clear about its commitment to bargaining. The Board is committed to negotiating a contract that the community can afford. It is committed to negotiating a contract that can be paid for by revenue that can be legally raised under the current law, Act 1. The Board intends to bargain a contract that does not hurt kids by being so financially unreasonable that it would require educational programs to be cut or eliminated. The current demands of the NFT do not meet any of these criteria.

The NFT’s public relations releases are now trying to argue that the NFT has made compromises during the years of bargaining with the School Board. That argument is completely false. The NFT made written demands in January, 2008 at the beginning of negotiations for new and expensive items that it wanted. Those items included salary, benefits, program changes, and the sharing of decision making power with the Board and Administration that were totally unreasonable in financial cost and concessions of power to the Union.

The “concessions” that have been referred to by the NFT are almost completely mere offers to take off the table some of the new demands they made in 2008. It is not a compromise to demand something new or more expensive, and then offer not to take that something you do not have.

The concessions that have never been offered by the NFT are well known to the public. Most obvious and well known are a contribution by each individual to the premium cost of health benefits. Every other Neshaminy employee, from the lowest paid to the highest paid, makes such a monthly contribution. Every other Bucks County School District employee, whether or not represented by a union, has for years made such contributions to health benefits. Such contributions have also been made by other public sector unions, as well as private sector employees.

In two days it will be January, 2011. We will soon have completed three (3) years of bargaining, and will, as we are required by law to do, start year four (4). If the NFT wants to demonstrate its own commitment to bargaining a contract, it must stop its posturing and pretense, and make some real concessions that reflect the reality of the times.

Ritchie Webb
Neshaminy School Board

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

NFT refuses to discuss health care

Tonight’s 27th meeting between the Board and NFT negotiation teams ended before it began as representatives from the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers refused to discuss the subject of health care, despite recent comments by NFT President Louise Boyd to the contrary. According to School Board President Ritchie Webb, the meeting started out with both parties in separate rooms as is always the case, and the Board directed the State-appointed mediator to ask the NFT to enter the meeting to discuss health care and retro pay. Neshaminy’s solicitor, Chuck Sweet, also asked the mediator to seek clarification from Ms. Boyd on her recent quote to the Philadelphia Inquirer in which she stated that the NFT would not make any concessions. The mediator left the room and met with the NFT team to propose the Board’s agenda. A few minutes later, the mediator returned and told the Board the NFT did not want to discuss any of those issues, and the mediator said that there was no reason to stay. No meeting was going to take place. Earlier this evening the NFT, through its PR firm, issued a statement that the Board cancelled tonight’s meeting. Mr. Webb insisted that is completely untrue. “We only proposed a couple of discussion items through the mediator, and we expected the NFT would comply given Ms. Boyd’s recent statements,” Webb said. “I am at a loss to explain why the NFT would say they were open to discussing health care, only to refuse to talk about it tonight, and then blame the meeting cancellation on the Board,” he said. No new talks have been scheduled. “The Board remains open to negotiations with the teachers,” Webb continued, “but at some point we have to discuss the issues that the NFT doesn’t seem to want to talk about.”

Friday, December 10, 2010

No agreements, but talks continue

School Board President Ritchie Webb issued the following statement concerning last night's contract negotiation session: "Negotiating session #26 took place last night and lasted about two hours. The main agenda item was the Board's proposal for self insurance, which the NFT did not yet agree to but said they will consider. They did not indicate when they will render a decision on the Board's proposal that will offer the district significant savings. The major issues have not changed. Health care plan options, employee contributions to health care premiums, retro pay, and salary increases were discussed but neither side made concessions. Both agreed to meet again on December 28, 2010, 6pm at Maple Point."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Board, NFT discuss self insurance

Negotiation teams from both the Board and NFT met for 3-1/2 hours this evening to discuss the Board's self insurance proposal which would maintain the teachers' prescription benefits while significantly reducing costs. Following presentations from two vendors, both sides had questions which required further research. Confident that the answers would be available next week, the Board and NFT agreed to meet again on Thursday, December 9th at 6pm.