Northport District,Teachers Remain Far Apart on Contract Talks

Mediation efforts still stalled as district presses for a hard freeze; union pleased with election of all four of its endorsed candidates.

Representatives from the and the United Teachers of Northport met Monday with mediator Robert Simmelkjaer in an attempt to move contract talks along.

On April 14, the UTN had offered a , in which they offered to take no increase to their salaries and no cash payment of step increments for the current school year as part of a four-year contract. According to union president Antoinette Blanck, the district still continues to push for a hard freeze.

Blanck says the district also rejected the union’s LIPA contingency plan proposal, saying that it is not a “positive advantage” for the district. That proposal offered various scenarios if the tax certiorari resulted in a tax revenue reduction to the district.

Blanck expressed disappointment at the district’s response. “We were trying to do our fair share in what would be a bad situation,” she said of the LIPA proposal. “We were trying to be proactive.” The next mediation meeting is scheduled for June 1.

More union solidarity events are in the works before the end of the school year to boost the morale of unit members. “Those actions aren’t just for the district, but also for our members to show we stand together,” Blanck said. A PDF copy of UTN’s May 17 response is attached to this article.

As for the Board of Education election results, Blanck was pleased to see all four of the union’s endorsed candidates elected. Jennifer Thompson had not been endorsed by the UTN last year, but Blanck said the union had been impressed to see her in action. “We definitely felt she was our number one choice this year.”

Joseph Sabia was equally impressive during his interview with union representatives. “We were impressed with Joe’s willingness to speak his mind,” Blanck said. She noted that a lot of discourse takes place between board members during executive sessions, which are not open to residents. “The public needs to know that the board is discussing difficult questions. I think Joe isn’t going to be afraid of that – to get people thinking in public.”

Blanck also spoke highly of Tammie Topel’s “spunk and drive.” She was appreciative of Topel’s willingness to take initiative, and her ability to see projects through from beginning to end.

Calling Kristen Gavin the “quiet one," Blanck said the union was impressed by her thought process as well as her willingness to learn. “I think all four bring something different to the table," Blanck said.

East N'ptr May 22, 2011 at 06:18 PM
By the way, I think there has been some great discussion of both sides on this thread, but I would like to see less defensiveness, and more ideas on what can be done to meet on some middle ground with regards to both the teachers contract and the technology initiatives. Anyone?
Nick Folger May 22, 2011 at 10:58 PM
For starters, the district should disclose the initiatives, the time frame, and the cost by initiatives of the technology plan. AND.... also indicate how the technology will improve the learning outcomes of each student and how the district plans to measure it. I don't want to hear that technology is necessary and therefore the district must buy in... that is not enough. I want to see improvement in student skills and I want proof
christine matis May 23, 2011 at 01:13 AM
As I am also learning about technology and education. I am forwarding to you some articles that I hope will be helpful to all. Alan November is one of the top technology in education pundits and is very influential Here's a link. http://www.mysouthlakenews.com/blog/post/822 Here are some of his articles: http://novemberlearning.com/resources/archive-of-articles/ in particular read "Beyond technology: the end of the job... "
deborah cosher June 03, 2011 at 02:59 PM
Opinions over the teachers picketing are varied and volatile. I would think that both sides would agree it is unpleasant to have children start the day with such negativity. This appears to be a microcosm of world and country current events. Two opposing sides unable to reach beyond there own interests to find compromise in difficult financial times. We all need teachers. We all want the best teachers for our children. We all want to pay them a fair wage so they too can live in the surrounding communities. A fair wage and benefits- what is reasonable now in 2011? Many in a community have lost jobs or have had their wages or hours decreased. Many have been out of work for a year or more.
deborah cosher June 03, 2011 at 03:02 PM
continued : Do teachers and the union realize that in the healthcare community many people even with jobs are suffering. You don’t see this in the news because many are self-employed and no union is speaking up for them. Ask your Physical therapist, Chiropractor, Dentist, Dental hygienist to name only a few how their incomes have been affected. In these and other healthcare professions high co-pays, lower reimbursements, patients losing insurance have had a serious negative impact on their salaries. These self-employed workers get no pension, no medical or dental benefits, no sick or vacation days! They were to save for these on their own out of their salaries. Many of their incomes over the last four or so years have not gone up or stayed the same but decreased. Where can they picket? This is just one example from one sector in the community. So let’s all realize times are hard and we should respect all in our community who are suffering not just the ones with a powerful union. Times have changed. We honor our teachers we just can’t continue to pay the requests for more at this time.


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