Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Food Crafters Contract Approved

Monday night, along with a budget, the East Penn School Board of Directors voted to "tentatively" ratify a new contract with the "Foodcrafters" (in layman's terms, "lunch ladies") Union. They are represented under the auspices of the PSEA (Pennsylvania State Education Association or "the Teachers Union).

We were not presented with a full copy of all of the changes to the contract in advance of the meeting (though they were distributed to us in executive session about 45 minutes before Monday night's public meeting) and we were asked to vote on it that very night.

Interesting since Board President Ballard accused Director Lynn Donches and myself of engaging in "ambush tactics" because he did not have 2 full weeks to review our proposed amendments to the East Penn Budget.

Back in late April, I wrote a piece on the ongoing negotiations and situation with the East Penn Foodcrafters Union. If you need background of why we were in negotiations this year, go to that link.

In any case, I have several positive things to say about the new contract:
1.) It does provide a cost savings as compared to previous contracts and actually is a net decrease in spending from the past.
2.) The new contract does minimize legacy costs due to pensions.
3.) I'm glad we were able to keep our people in those positions. While I'm always in favor of exploring privatization, I'm not at all certain we would (or even COULD) have received better service from an outside source.

I made a motion to defer the vote on the contract for 2 weeks til the July 8th meeting out of respect for the public's right to review what we were voting on (and to be consistent with the desires that Board President Ballard had expressed only minutes before).

Director Lynn Donches (who served on the contract negotiation committee) seconded my motion.

Predictably, my motion failed 6-3 with Director Mike Policano joining Ms. Donches and myself in voting to defer.

The final contract approval passed 8-0-1 with yours truly abstaining.

I abstained for 2 reasons.

1.) The contract keeps in place the "fair share" dues deduction clause where the School District deducts Union dues from the employee’s paycheck. Even those employees who do not wish to join the Union get money deducted from their paycheck (and they have no legal recourse to recover it.
2.) The public really should have had the courtesy of a two week review. The contract isn't a bad one and it is relatively (for this district...) taxpayer friendly. Still, the people have the right to review it and provide their opinion to the board before we cast our vote.

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