Meadville Tribune

Opinion

July 17, 2012

In Crawford Central School District, ‘politics of division’ won’t help create a workable teacher contract

MEADVILLE — The school board of the Crawford Central School District sent a letter to every employee of the district. In it, the board addressed the topic of the failed “early bird” negotiations with our teachers’ union by writing that “unfortunately the joint effort of staff, administration and the board that produced this agreement came to an end when the CCEA (teachers union) negotiating team rejected the final wording for the ratified contract.”

As one may imagine, it was a shock to read that it was the “joint effort of the staff, administration and the board that produced this agreement” when our negotiations team, of which I am a member, spent more than 40 hours total at 18 negotiations sessions with the board to create the tentative agreement that we not only brought to, but recommended to, our fellow teachers. Our teachers promptly accepted this agreement which contained, in the words of board member Jan VanTuil, “more language concessions ... than I’ve ever seen in the past 20 years” and a “huge” pay freeze replacing the 3.3 percent raise already guaranteed to the teachers under the existing contract.

As one would assume, our negotiations team would submit that it was the school board members who “rejected the final wording for the ratified contract.” Conjecture and blame over how we arrived at this juncture, however, will only produce more conjecture and blame over how we arrived at this juncture.

What doesn’t add up in this transparent attempt to divide the teachers from the colleagues they chose to represent them is this: Would a supposedly hard-line negotiations team out of touch with its members be likely to bring those members a package representing the loss of a guaranteed 3.3 percent salary increase, a pay freeze, and more language concessions than the board has seen in 20 years?

What is certain is that the agreement our members ratified would save the district $5.2 million over the four-year term. What is in dispute is health insurance language which the district’s insurance broker says would be $12,500 per year more than the version of the tentative agreement the board ratified. The board claims those costs could rise, but even if they rise 10 times that amount, the savings to the taxpayers would still be $4.7 million.

Naturally, after agreeing to terms that would have saved the district millions and then being rejected, many of our teachers were incredulous. One member was heard to remark that, apparently, there’s no such saying about punching a gift horse in the mouth.

Finally, in the letter they sent, the board members stated that among the consequences of the failed early bird is that “a totally new contract will have to be negotiated” that “might take several years to accomplish due to the current climate.”

I would submit that it is within the power of our two negotiations teams to create a climate that will produce a resolution, but that we cannot do so by engaging in the politics of division. Our team is committed to finding a new compromise and we hope the board’s team will join us in that effort.

Mehok is president of Crawford Central Education Association.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • It’s hard to believe park will turn things around until secrecy ends

    Even if a deal is struck to save Conneaut Lake Park from a pending sale to pay off back taxes, it appears unlikely that the park will succeed unless its new managers pledge themselves to transparency and public accountability.

    April 22, 2014 1 Story

  • Public pensions for private lobbyists under fire

    Employees of the Pennsylvania School Board Association don’t work for any of the state’s 500 local school districts — not directly, anyway. They lobby lawmakers on behalf of those districts for things like funding.

    April 20, 2014

  • Many veterans suffer PTSD, which needs to be dealt with

    Initially, I intended this article to be about PTSD “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” I wanted to write about the myths and misconceptions that those four words may hold. But as the days went by, the story just wouldn’t come together for me. Everything I typed seemed to miss something. There was no feeling.

    April 17, 2014

  • Journalists in combat zones ‘write with light’ while risking their lives

    I first heard the news on National Public Radio on my car radio. On April 4, the day before elections in Afghanistan, an Afghan military officer walked up to a car in a convoy and opened fire. Anja Niedringhaus, a staff photographer for The Associated Press, died instantly.

    April 16, 2014

  • There’s no war on men and boys — it’s quite the opposite

    Two weeks ago, Paul Dici submitted an column titled “It’s time to fight against the war on men and boys” (March 28). Mr. Dici would have us believe that men and boys are being “wussified” by a progressive agenda that may jeopardize our national security. Also, he makes the point that men and boys are not given the same advantages (programs) as women and girls.

    April 14, 2014

  • McCord outsourcing ‘scandal’ reminds me of Y2K fears

    With only seven weeks to go until the May primary election, the campaigns are expected to get a lot hotter and more negative.

    April 13, 2014

  • Can we trust luck when it comes to the nuclear industry?

    Let’s review the history to better understand a major concern of today.

    April 11, 2014

  • Aging — is it a disease to be cured?

    If you are already old, get ready for what comes next. If you are not old yet but on the way, it is not too early to start thinking about aging and dying, because both are part of being human.

    April 10, 2014

  • Local high school students help keep future of journalism bright

    Significant technological and economic changes have caused some to question the future of journalism, both as a viable business enterprise and as a potential career. But if the proceedings of the eighth annual Northwest Pennsylvania High School Journalism Day are any indication, journalism is alive and well, especially in Crawford County.

    April 10, 2014

  • Reps want to hang ‘English only’ sign at the Capitol

    Pennsylvania, it turns out, is one of 19 states that have failed to address the menace that is non-English. Or maybe it’s un-English? Or dis-English? There must be a word for it.

    April 8, 2014

Business Marquee
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks