Negotiation Session Goes as Expected, Yielding No Progress
The Neshaminy Federation of Teachers and Neshaminy School Board met to negotiate Thursday night, but did not make any progress.
Thursday's negotiation session went as expected for Neshaminy School Board President Ritchie Webb.
"The NFT had no intention of negotiating in good faith, instead putting all their hope in a Bucks County judge to negotiate for them," he said following the meeting, which was rescheduled to accomodate the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers' lead negotiator Tom Jennings.
For NFT President Louise Boyd, the meeting was "more of the same," "produced no substantive results" and was "another wasted night for the NFT negotiation team."
The meeting started, Boyd said, with the school board failing to produce the "promised" memorandum of agreement on the 12 issues in the arbitration award that both sides agreed upon. To avoid wasting time Jennings agreed to prepare the document, she said.
But at the bargaining table, Webb said that Jennings "continued to create a toxic atmosphere that was not conducive to productive negotiations." According to Webb, the school board believes that videotaping these meetings would help produce results and "eliminate the hostile atmosphere."
Jennings and the board's attorney Charles Sweet engaged in a "lengthy" and "heated exchange" regarding what Boyd refered to as "the board's desperate refusal to modify its position over the past four years."
During the exchange, Boyd said that the school board "freely admitted that its refusal to meaningfully negotiate, conduct that is presently being challenged in proceedings before the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, will not change."
According to Boyd, the union reminded the school board that "its expenditure of employee’s money seized by freezing the wage matrix was a foolish maneuver that would inevitably produce the financial day of reckoning that has now arrived. The millions of dollars that have flown into the Board’s coffers – an unprecedented windfall - belongs to the employees who earned it through five years of their labors must now be repaid to those employees."
Before the meeting ended, the NFT requested updated employee numbers since the district has layed off some certified staff and cut programs.
"The NFT apparently feels entitled to any savings as a result of staff attrition," Webb said. Related to this matter, Boyd said that the union proposed that both sides update their base factual and numerical assumptions regarding the cost of the contract.
"We are disturbed by the NFT's lack of commitment to these negotiation sessions," Webb continued.
In addition, Webb said Jennings requested to reschedule the next negotiation session from August 15 to the 16th. When the board asked Jennings for a reason why the change was needed, Webb said that he "refused to answer."
"It was only due to the strong encouragement of the mediator that the board agreed to accommodate this second request," Webb stated.
The next negotiation session will be August 16.