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.
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