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The Teachers Union Rejects Tentative agreement

The Teacher's union of Saucon Valley School District have rejected a negotiated tentative agreement, that is an improved compromise of the independent Fact Finder Report (that the union pushed on the Board). We on the board looked to provi...de the teachers a fair raise plan that slows down the ever increasing slope of pay and benefits increases. If that slope is not controlled the public education system will go bankrupt. It is my opinion that these privileged teachers are working in a district that has not even considered laying off teachers, and eliminating programs like is going on in so many neighboring districts. It is a shame that their greed or their inability to grasp the world as it is, continues the divisive process. They need to understand that there is no chance for the teachers to get any retroactivity in there contracts in the future. So right now their Pay and benefits are frozen. It is disheartening that the hard work of 2 years of negotiation is thrown out. I have played by the negotiating rules of keeping my opinions to myself, but now I will be going public with my opinions! I would also like to thank the board members on the negotiation committee, Ed Inghrim, Susan Baxter, and Ralph Puerta. They have put in incredible hours balancing the needs of the district and trying to be fair to the teachers! What a disappointment that this still has to continue.


Allan Bach February 26, 2014 at 03:43 PM
Walter, I believe they are not always the same. If you have ever worked in a closed shop, you would not have an option to join the union - you're a member. If you disagree with any union decision and voiced your disagreement, you would very likely be subject to a meeting and informed of your error. I only wish I could talk to teachers, preferably outside of a school board meeting, and discover what they think about this contract - private meeting, no cameras, microphones, and no fear or being heard by anyone else. Would be interesting...
Walter February 26, 2014 at 04:02 PM
Allan, forgive me. I do not have any experience with unions nor do I want to. But, I do not understand. It is my understanding that the SVEA is made up of the teachers who are employed at the SVSD. It is my understanding that the SVEA rejected the tentative agreement. Would that not take a majority vote by the Teachers employed by the SVSD?
Allan Bach February 26, 2014 at 05:03 PM
No forgiveness needed. My point is this - are union members (teachers) voting their choice, or voting the union's choice? The very word union is the opposite of individual.
Walter February 26, 2014 at 05:20 PM
I would think that the union choice is one that reflects the majority of the individual union member choices.
Allan Bach February 27, 2014 at 07:10 AM
Walter, I'd like to think that, too. I also would like to think that people are honest, never lie, and are other centered.
Richard Hafner February 27, 2014 at 07:36 AM
Been there and yes, it is by majority vote normally not a secret ballot..
Allan Bach February 27, 2014 at 12:55 PM
Richard, is it a show of hands?
Richard Hafner February 27, 2014 at 01:37 PM
yes, but has also been voice vote..
Richard Hafner February 27, 2014 at 01:43 PM
IMO a secret ballot was never used, because majority would have accepted the offer.. (married) females are 2nd income source for a family unit.. they would readily accept an offer..
svforlife February 27, 2014 at 04:09 PM
Richard, so you are basically saying the majority of teachers are females and have husbands that make higher salaries in the "real world" so their pay is not that big of a deal?? What about the people that are the sole providers for their families? Pay freeze after pay freeze is acceptable? I saw Eichfled posted something about constant pay increases for the teachers over the years...The teachers have been on the same pay for the last year and a half. Also, a teacher that has been working for 10 years at the district, is only on step 6 on the teacher pay scale. For those teachers, that means they were frozen on step for 4 years. So for him to say the teachers are getting pay raises every year is probably not that accurate..Also, he openly said teachers had no shot at getting retro pay, but administration, custodians, and bus drivers all did...
Richard Hafner February 27, 2014 at 04:59 PM
if you can read, I mentioned a group within the typical union..no number was presented...
svforlife February 27, 2014 at 05:39 PM
Thank you Richard I can read...I am just asking what you were trying to imply from your post?? Since you didn't respond to my answer, I can only conclude that you are saying it doesn't really matter how much most teachers make because if it is someone's second income they will be happy with whatever they are making...No need to get defensive, I was just simply asking you questions. I thought that was what this forum was for......
Bryan Eichfeld February 27, 2014 at 06:17 PM
The contract proposed has only one year of freeze, 2012-13, the next year every teacher would get a raise - step and Column or for those at the top a $1500. That means everyone gets a raise. The 3rd year of the contract would pay every teacher a $1500 Bonus. No Step and column. The 4th year would be step and column, plus $950 to every block on the grid half way through the year. So the post is incorrect, the teachers would move up in the grid step for 2 years. So the teachers would not be frozen for 4 years.
Bert Macklin February 27, 2014 at 06:19 PM
svforlife, The district needs a few years of pay freezes to bring compensation in line with other local districts. Wages and incentives have gotten out of control. The district needs to slow down the slope quickly before it becomes bankrupt. As for anecdotal salary stories, there is also a teacher that has ten years experience that is currently making over $78k with plenty more over $70k. Never mind the "sky high" $15 copays and insurance premiums.
Bryan Eichfeld February 27, 2014 at 06:21 PM
I want to be clear, I am not opposed to teachers making good money, they do an extremely important job. But they cannot continue to make increases like in prior contracts. In the prior 4 year contract the average teacher made 28% more at the end from at the beginning. Those are the facts! That is an average of 7%, and that does not include what was spent on their tuition reimbursement.
Bryan Eichfeld February 27, 2014 at 06:25 PM
The contract that has been offered is fair, it is complicated because of the complicated pay structure of the teachers. I would love to say lets give a flat raise.
svforlife February 27, 2014 at 06:30 PM
Thank you for explanation...I wasn't trying to imply they would be frozen for 4 years. Was just stating that from previous contracts, teachers have been frozen on step a few times. If a teacher has worked in the school district for 10 years and our on step 6, that means they would have been frozen on a step a couple of times while teaching at SV..
Resident February 28, 2014 at 11:45 AM
I want the teachers to be paid fairly, but where else in the Business world do you get a raise-even if minimal every year? Many people are flat. Please just tell me that they will NOT go on Strike yet again....It only hurts the kids.
sue February 28, 2014 at 07:58 PM
SVforlife, Just because a teacher has been with the district and their "step" doesn't match it does not mean they have been "frozen". Their are numerous reasons for this. If the teacher began their career at SV as a long term sub. the steps do not begin until they are in a "contracted" position. Also has the teacher taken any maternity or family health leave?, this may actually keep them from advancing a step since they did not actually physically work that semester or year. Also, are you confusing "ten year" with "tenure"? In the state of Pennsylvania, only three years of teaching are required for tenure which certifies them as a professional. Thus not having the "steps" match the longevity of the employee my have various reasons not all of which involve contracts or the boards.
busybody March 02, 2014 at 06:01 PM
If this union is unique to the SVSD and there are "so many" teachers who really don't agree with the unions position, why don't they just break the union and teach with out one"? Not everyone who works has the "protection" of a union. These people teach here because they want the protection and the big bucks. If they didn't they would be teaching in Catholic School without benefit of union, ability to strike, or big salaries. The only reason these teachers go back to school to further their education is to get more money from the taxpayers. Let's be serious, how many Masters Degrees do you need to teach second grade? None. A basic understanding of teaching, children, a degree and a desire to spend five hours a day locked up with a bunch of kids is all you need. You don't need to go to college over and over again to learn how to do it, only to get more money which is why they all do it Make no mistake about it, most of the teachers may be female and second incomes but most of them are, unless they are married to professionals, knocking down more money than their husbands, plus you can bet the family is all on the health insurance that we are paying for. I see teachers every day driving cars that cost at least two times more than mine and my husband has always made a six figure salary. For some of these families, this "part time teacher income with full time benefits" is their disposable income. It is what pays for the cruises, swimming pools, multiple vacations, nice cars, all the things that most of the taxpayers in the SVSD don't have a snowballs chance in hell of ever having.
svforlife March 03, 2014 at 06:44 PM
Sue - Thank you for your suggestion, but if you talk to some teachers like I did, you will find out that they have been frozen on step a couple of times. Ask any of the teachers there, ones that have never taken any leave, not at all...and they have been frozen on step. I am not confusing ten year with tenure...I was giving an example. If you do not believe me, ask some teachers that have been working at the school for a couple of years now and you will soon find out that they have been frozen on step.
Dan Earl March 03, 2014 at 10:34 PM
I think it's important to pick up on the post by Resident. Those unions sucking on the public teat for far too long feel a sense of entitlement and are so far out of touch with reality that anyone in the private sector faces. SVSD is funded by tax payers, who have been providing for their lifestyle for years and now it is time to tighten the belt with pay freezes and ask them to bear some additional out of pocket expenses. Don't like it? I welcome you to find another school district, immediately. Wake up and smell the coffee and look around you. Stagnant growth. Unemployment. Underemployment. People struggling to make ends meet. Be happy you have a stable job - have any teachers been laid off? Would the union prefer teachers be laid off in order to maintain pay raises for the rest? Looking down the road to passage, in one form or another, of the Property Tax Independence Act, one key provision will certainly remain and that is tying annual increases to the CPI. The real world cometh, I hope the union and teachers are prepared.
svforlife March 04, 2014 at 07:18 PM
Dan - Do you think the contract is not passing just because of health insurance costs? How many times in the past years have the teachers been frozen on step? If you don't know, maybe you should ask some of them? Not saying they need crazy raises every year, but I think if you did your research you would find some interesting facts out. Also, if you look at if from a teachers point of view, what would you say about everyone else in the school district getting 3% raises and retro and then you have a board member that comes on here and says that retro is off of the table for teachers and 3% is not even close to what they would get. Look at the contract..Teachers are/would be frozen for a year and a half and then get a $750 "bonus" this year. I am not saying what is right or wrong, but if you were working a job and everyone else around you got a 3% raise and retro I don't think you would be saying, "Ya, give me a 1.5 year freeze and just a bonus and no raise." It is easy to blast teachers and what the make, but when you take a step back and see what is happening at the school district, I think you would be able to see why some people are upset.
Bryan Eichfeld March 05, 2014 at 07:38 AM
svforlife's post is full of inaccuracies. I the current contract that the board has approved and the teachers negotiation committee recommended for approval. The first year (last year) is a freeze. This year the teachers would move Step and column at pay 14 (half way through this year) and the teachers at the top of the pay scale would get $1500 not what svforlife stated of $750. This equates to a 1.9% raise for the average teacher. Because of their complicated pay scale this is an average so some make more some less. I would love to simplify their pay system but the Unions created this monster so we have to live with it. As for stomping their feet and complaining that we love the rest of the district more because we gave the rest a 3% raise and the teachers only a 1.9% (which is the actual raise calculated over the year, not just for the half of the year that they will be paid the increase). So that increase rolls into the following year also. Then year 3 (next year) the teachers will get a $1500 bonus on top of the raise that they received this year (or an average 2.2% increase) and the final year they get step and column in pay 14 and $950 added to each cell of their pay grid. (a 2.6% annual average pay increase). As for the rest of the district as I explained before the retro in pay increase was because it was the district, not the other groups that dragged its feet in their pay negotiations. Also the average employee of the district makes less than the lowest paid teacher (I am not complaining about this, it is reality. The teachers earn more because they are professionals). So a 3% raise on a $20,000 wage earner is less real dollars than a 1.9% on an average teacher of $70,000. And since we are raising the real costs of healthcare it effects the lower wage earner more. The Act 93 personnel (principals and upper administrators) got 3% because the voluntarily took a freeze last year and their pay does not have the opportunity for increases that the teacher's does through column movement for Graduate studies. And frankly in the real world workers don't get guaranteed annual increases, so to get so upset about any pay increase is in my opinion is childish. As I stated earlier the teachers are professionals, I believe that it is time that they show it.
svforlife March 05, 2014 at 08:48 AM
So freeze first year...and get to move half way through this year..So 1.5 year freeze..I understand that now. Not sure where this "bonus" thing comes from..Why wouldn't that money be put in the columns that you are talking about, why does it have to be identified as a "bonus"?
Bryan Eichfeld March 05, 2014 at 09:41 AM
The bonus is something that does not add to salary or to PSERS (retirement calculations). It is a cost saving device for the district.
Bryan Eichfeld March 05, 2014 at 08:45 PM
So lets take a tour of the current contract from the perspective of Fictional Teacher - lets say the teacher has 7 years with the district in the 2011-12 school year with a Masters degree +6 credits - In that year the teacher would earn $60,603. The teacher would make the same in 2012-13 the freeze year. Then in this year 2013-14 if the teachers agree and this teacher brought forward or took 12 credits will make $62,478 which is half of the increase because of being paid the new rate 1/2 way through the year. Then in 2014-15 the teacher would make $64,352 plus $1,500 or $65,852. Then in year 2015-16 the teacher with another only 6 credits the teacher would move one column and step, halfway through the year - $67,842. And the teacher will be earning at the rate of $71,332. So in a 4 year contract that teacher will have a pay that moved from $60,603 salary to $71,332 salary or a 15% increase over 4 years. And the teachers are unhappy with that. I think that is a very fair pay progression.
Bryan Eichfeld March 05, 2014 at 08:48 PM
I ask, is there anyone in the private sector seeing this level of increase?
Gerry Kranz March 05, 2014 at 09:44 PM
Everyone needs to keep the proper perspective. First, the majority of the SV teachers are dedicated professionals who go more than the extra mile for the students, from K through 12. There are a few really bad teachers, particularly in the HS, but, as many of you are fond of comparing this work force to the private sector - those same types of poor worker can be found in almost any company. Good teachers should be compensated well. Now, I don't agree with Bryan posting details of the negotiations, but his outline of the raises shows the unreasonable nature of the teachers. Excellent employees do not normally get 15% over 4 years in normal companies. That MAY happen in a rapidly growing company, but that is in NO way comparable to a school. There is no revenue growth plan in a school besides raising taxes and cutting costs. People don't have the stomach to do either, I'm afraid. Excellent academics, sports, and arts can bring a community together. A good school will attract more taxpayers. A good school will induce families to stay. A good school will build a great community reputation. Degrade the quality of the school, and the first thing that will happen is that the good students will take their tax money and go to a charter school, and there is not a damn thing you people can do to stop it. This literally takes money right off the top of the school budget. It is already happening. Then, families move away or families avoid moving here. Property values decrease. Tax revenue spirals downward. The low rents and low cost housing attracts low income residents, who are less educated and have little community pride. To the whiny seniors who think that they paid their dues and now want a tax break: your property values will go down one way or another of you cut school resources to the bone. To the school board: I think you have done a fair job and have offered a very good contract, but please stop negotiating on the Patch. To the teachers: for some reason, even the brightest amongst you have failed reasoning when it comes to this contract. Your expectations are unrealistic.no one respects your opinion, even if you had a good point to make. You are not a large and powerful union, like the Steel in days gone by. You have the low ground. Give up to fight another day.
Walter March 12, 2014 at 05:56 AM
Saucon Valley School Board Launches Negotiations Website: http://www.svsdnegotiations.com

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