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.