Monday, May 23, 2011

Board, NFT to meet twice in June

Representatives from the Board's Negotiation Team and NFT leadership will continue talks on Monday, June 13th, and again on Thursday, June 16th. Both meetings will begin at 6pm.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Board Formally Withdraws Contract Offer to NFT

Neshaminy School Board President, Ritchie Webb, announced today that the three year contract proposal to the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers (NFT), first offered in 2008, was being withdrawn. Webb stated that this action leaves the Board free to make a new proposal effective July 1, 2011 and thereafter.

Teams representing the Board and NFT have met 29 times since January 2008, with the most recent meeting being February 15, 2011. No progress has been made in reaching a new agreement.

“This is not a moment for rejoicing as it signifies that our negotiations with the Teachers’ Union have not progressed, but we must continue trying to move forward,” Webb said.

The Board President continued, “We cannot allow lack of progress to discourage us from talking with union leadership. Our students and tax payers are depending on us to negotiate a reasonable and affordable contract, and this Board remains committed to ongoing, good faith negotiations.”

The Board’s initial offer from 2008 was highlighted by an average 3.1% salary increase, employee health care contributions ranging from 10%-12%, elimination of Master’s Equivalency (MEQ) certificates, increasing the number of work days from 188.5 to 190.5, lengthening the work day from 7.0 hours to 7.5 hours, and removing the $27,500 retirement benefit.

The Board’s offer was later amended to include an increase in the health care contribution rate to 15% - 17% based on the NFT’s desire to maintain a high cost, top tier insurance plan.

Mr. Webb also confirmed the Board’s intention of seeking public input into the formation of the next contract offer. “The people have shown tremendous desire in helping the Board determine what is reasonable and affordable. Since they are the ones paying for all this, I see no reason why we shouldn’t consider their suggestions.”

The Neshaminy School District is facing an $11+ million deficit for the 2011/2012 school year as the Board considers cuts to student programs and staff layoffs to close the gap.

Webb restated his desire for transparent negotiations with the NFT moving forward, saying, “By videotaping our talks and allowing news reporters into the room, we can remove any and all doubt as to who said what. Maybe then some real progress can be made.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

NFT rejects meeting requests

Last week the Board learned that our recent requests for additional negotiations were rejected by the NFT for reasons not yet explained to us. Unfortunately the Board and the public have been kept in the dark about this.

We are making the public aware of this situation so that they may feel reassured that the Board is committed to ongoing dialogue with the leadership of the Teachers Union, and we will continue to make every effort to schedule further negotiations with them.

Below is an email from the Board’s attorney, Chuck Sweet, to the State-appointed mediator, John Cairns, stating our displeasure with this most recent development and also reasserting the Board’s position with respect to a new collective bargaining agreement.


From: [Chuck Sweet]
To: [John Cairns]
CC: [Ritchie Webb]
Date: Sun, 1 May 2011 21:38:19 -0400
Subject: NFT negotiations


I just learned on Friday, April 29, 2011 that you had, on six (6) occasions since my letter to you of March 3, 2011, offered in writing to Tom Jennings and NFT specific bargaining dates, beginning with March 17, 2011 and continuing with five (5) additional dates in April, 2011. The most recent of those dates was April 27, 2011. Unfortunately, you did not copy me on any one of those e-mail messages. You have also not communicated with me by telephone or e-mail since March 3, 2011. Also unfortunately, the NFT did not accept any one of the dates that you offered.

The NFT President, Louise Boyd, makes a great show of saying that she and the NFT are available at any time and any date to negotiate with the Neshaminy School Board. That is obviously not a true statement.

We have been bargaining continuously with the NFT since January, 2008. We are well into our fourth year of negotiations. The three (3) year proposal made by the Board to the NFT in January, 2008 will expire soon. It was always, by its terms, not retroactive to any date prior to its mutual acceptance and ratification by both parties. That has always been quite clear to the NFT and to the taxpayers. Any future offer from the Board to the NFT will only be for a prospective term, that would be defined in a new written offer.

I am available to you for communication, whether by e-mail, telephone, or otherwise.