Public sector union contract negotiations should not be private

The expectation of a local teacher’s union in New Jersey is complete privacy during salary and benefit negotiations with the local school board, all the way through to the point where negotiations are finalized. That old-school practice is no longer acceptable, and eight members of the Ramsey, N.J. school board pulled back the curtain for local residents in February.

The Ramsey Teachers Association’s president, Richard Romain, complained about school board members who – with their own personal money – took out an ad in the local newspaper providing information about the contract negotiations.

Oh the horror. The local community learned what was offered and rejected by the teacher’s union after eight months of negotiations. The union does not think the public should be involved or be provided any information about a contract they will have to pay for. From Big Government.

The ad described the particulars of the board’s three-year contract offer which had been rejected by the Ramsey Teachers Association, and revealed what the union was demanding in return.

Eight months after contract talks had been declared to be at an impasse, the Ramsey community learned the RTA had rejected a three-year contract that would have given union members average annual raises of nearly three percent, in exchange for switching to the state’s health insurance plan.

Union officials were holding out for an average pay raise of 4.6 percent over three years.

In short, health care costs are going up in part due to the Obama administrations health care mandates, and local budgets are strained. Those local communities have also been getting fewer dollars from state and federal sources … dollars they have been become dependent on. Lesson? What can be provided can just as easily be taken away. Anyway…

The town need to cut costs, and one way to do that was to switch to the state’s health benefit plans. The union agreed to switch plans, as long as they were guaranteed salary increases – some retroactive – through 2013.

You can click here to check out the ad placed by eight of nine school board members back in February, but to keep the math simple, let’s use a $100 bill. Switching to the state’s health care plan would save Ramsey $100. Of the $100 in savings, the union was offered $71 of that money back in salary increases – some retroactive to Sept. 2011 – through 2013.

The union rejected that deal, it was not enough. Did they want $80, $90 or even $95 of the savings turned back to them in salary increases? Nope, they wanted it all, plus an additional $43. So the town saved $100 in column “A” but to get that “savings” the union demanded salary increases of $143 in column “B” … putting the local community deeper into the hole.

Do go read more about this huge problem over at Big Government, and you can get the local details with more background at

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. Dimsdale on April 12, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Kudos to the school board.? Let’s hope this becomes precedent.? Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

  2. JBS on April 12, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Unions are going to be the death of us. This public sector union’s greedy, money grasping negotiating stance is ALL ABOUT fleecing us, the public,? for everything they possibly can.
    It is about time the passe, backroom, strong-armed strategies of unions were revealed. Like the vampires they are, the unions will recoil from light and be disclosed for what they are: an anachronism.?
    By the way, just what is the quality of education in Ramsey, N.J.?

  3. dairyair on April 12, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    An anachronism, indeed, JBS. As soon as the last child was out of the coal mine, EVERY union should have been abolished. And public unions are the worst offenders, and most offensive. I better watch what I say, or Dan’l will force all blog posters into the SEIU or something.

  4. Tim-in-Alabama on April 12, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Teachers unions are there to ensure the children receive a quality education. What the board members did by smearing the union with the ad was show there is a Republican war on the working man. If teachers aren’t adequately compensated, the profession is liable to be taken over by people who complain 24/7 about how hard their jobs are.

    • Open4FreeDebate on April 13, 2012 at 6:00 am

      [ADMIN says: this guest has been banned for violating the Terms of Use (although we are enjoying Tim tweaking this troll, it must end…)]
      I agree with Tim. The tea repubs are waging war on the middle class. On the one hand they aim to shrink “big government” but on the other they pass legislation increasing the arms reach of government into personal liberties. I.e. contraception, abortions, voter rights, equal pay, church into state to just name a few.

      If there were more unions would so many jobs have been shipped overseas? Would employment be higher now? Or would the greedy one per centers still have the same control over our government as they do now?

      The negotiations should always have been open and not closed or at least a transcript available no later than twenty four hours.

    • Dimsdale on April 13, 2012 at 11:41 am

      The funny thing is, Tim is joking, and you are serious!? LOL!??
      Unions and their excessive wages and other demands have driven the jobs overseas more than anything else!? And as far as the “one percenters” having control over our government, check out the role of unions, particularly SEIU, in what this president has done to our country.? Andy Stern topped the WH visitor list at the beginning of this administration (, much like Hillary Rosen, who the Carney pretends not to know (

  5. Truthseeker on April 13, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Government employees do not have the right to collective bargaining under the Fair Labor Standards Act.?? They were given collective bargaining rights by laws passed in state legislatures in return for contributions and endorsements.? Scott Walker tried to roll this back in Wisconsin, and look at the results.? Again, once goverment gives a group of constituents something, it is impossible to take away.? I support transparancy so we can protest when negotiation get out of hand.? Its our money, we have a right to know.


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