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