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Thread: Should Wayland have a Tax Moratorium and ask its labor to take pay cuts?

  1. #1
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    Cool Should Wayland have a Tax Moratorium and ask its labor to take pay cuts?

    Last Thursday I wrote on op-ed piece in the Crier entitled:

    How About 'Wayland to Wayland' ?
    Which is a short hand way of saying, desperate times have arrived.
    We must now take care of our own.

    Here is a link to the article:
    http://www.wickedlocal.com/wayland/n...and-to-Wayland

    My article suggests remedies like
    1. Tax moratoriums
    2. Re-opening labor contacts
    3. Asking town labor to take pay cuts

    In Hopkinton, the teachers union have recently asked the town to consider a pay cut measure. (Similar to what I suggested above.)

    http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/ne...pkinton-budget

    Given that the suggestions of my op-ed piece are as drastic as the times we now live in and they are certainly not within the 'norm' in Wayland. I think that this article can serve the basis for a lively and opinionated exchange of ideas and thoughts.

    I hope that you will not be shy.
    I'm certainly not.

  2. #2
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    Default

    Alan -

    I read the Metrowest article concerning Hopkinton. Alas, it does not say that the teachers' union there has "asked the town to consider a pay cut measure". Here's the relevant portion of the article:

    "The teachers union wants to speak with administrators about the coming budget crunch, Superintendent John Phelan Jr. told parents last night, addressing suggestions that educators take a pay cut. 'That's all I'm willing to share at this time,' he said."

    As a 38-year management-side labor lawyer who spent my career negotiating with unions, I'm willing to bet the ranch that the teachers' union will not propose a pay cut.

  3. #3
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    Default Three way tug of war

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Perlman View Post
    Alan -
    As a 38-year management-side labor lawyer who spent my career negotiating with unions, I'm willing to bet the ranch that the teachers' union will not propose a pay cut.
    Steve, where is your 'ranch' located because we're going to need to take it into escrow to complete this bet.

    Now if your speaking about the Wayland teacher's union, I'd have to agree. Hopkinton - not so sure ? Of course the great depression was more than 38 years ago so your viewpoint may no longer be long enough.

    The question which really needs to be debated here is best described as a 3 way 'tug of war'.

    1. The cost of labor to the citizens of a town
    2. The willingness of the union to 'take a body count' with the survivors keeping the raises (which is the Wayland Teacher's famous position - as you well know) while Wayland not rejecting an override in 20 years and therefore NOT testing that 'body count' position.
    3. The willingness for the 30% of Wayland families with school children to allow class sizes to increase because teachers are laid off due to a rejected override or the teacher's union unwillingness to reopen contracts.

    You may not be aware of the fact that the Selectman-FinCom-SC Ad-Hoc cost savings committee (put into place during my tenure) had as a line item- "Reopen labor contracts" to save the town money. This item was removed from the Ad-Hoc list this year - for reasons unknown to me except that the item was never pushed or tried to the best of my knowledge.

    One other thing... there are numerous examples of contract reopens in history which have been successfully done to the favor of management. You say you have never seen one?

    One internet search today... (in terms of unions re-opening contacts and considering pay cuts)

    http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/arti...fc00173ef6.txt
    "A majority of hourly workers at Wells' Dairy Inc. have voted to reopen the final year of their contract with the ice cream maker, which wants to cut their pay and perks by about $5 million"

    http://www.editorandpublisher.com/ea..._id=1003922550
    "The Denver Post Publisher William Dean Singleton has asked unions at The Post and Denver Newspaper Agency to reopen their labor contracts"

    http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/579497
    "Union ready to talk `concessions' with automakers; says it can't ignore their `precarious financial state'"

    http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/a...=2008812040413
    "Opening UAW contract 'what has to be done'"

    http://www.allbusiness.com/labor-emp...0345687-1.html
    "UAW Contract Talks Reopen with York, Pa., Heating, Refrigeration Firm."

    Update: Additional links to teacher contracts reopening discussions or events

    http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/toda..._valley_t.html
    The board should reject the arbitrator's recommendation and insist on reopening the contract negotiations 2/8/09

    http://www.projo.com/education/conte...3.3c91981.html
    “We will not solve this problem entirely on the backs of teachers, but districts will have to at least propose [reopening contracts and concessions]. It’s gotten to that point.” 2/14/09

    http://newhavenindependent.org/archi...ord_boe_ge.php
    In an unprecedented action, the Branford Board of Education has asked the teachers union and three other bargaining units to reopen talks in order to gain concessions to roll back teacher layoffs the schools chancellor recently announced. 2/6/09

    http://www.beloitdailynews.com/artic...ews/news02.txt
    Contract negotiations for the teachers of the School District of Beloit ended last spring, but the Board of Education has approached the teachers' union about returning to the table for discussion. 2/12/09

    http://newtownbee.com/News/News/2009...t+Wage+Freezes
    Some town officials are hinting that this action could represent the tip of the iceberg as far as layoffs are concerned, if economic challenges increase as predicted. But so far it appears none of the town or school unions are coming forward voluntarily to reopen bargaining on a wage freeze at the 2008 pay grade. And Ms Ross acknowledged that a wage freeze could only occur if every union was on board.
    2/19/09

    http://www.cmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dl...1/1092/48HOURS
    The budget committee' proposal is nearly $574,500 less and could result in layoffs. It recommends cutting the teachers' increase to 4 percent, which would require reopening the contract. But school officials said that wouldn't likely happen, and the cuts would have to be made elsewhere - in staff and programs. 1/11/09


    Steve, I'm surprised. You've never seen a union vote for a pay cut?
    Last edited by AlanJReiss; 02-22-2009 at 10:50 AM. Reason: Additional Teacher contract reopening events 2009

  4. #4
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    Default

    Alan -

    My prediction that "the teachers' union will not propose a pay cut" was meant to refer to the Hopkinton teachers union, of which you'd incorrectly asserted that that union has "asked the town to consider a pay cut measure". The Metrowest News article that you'd cited for that proposition merely stated that "the [Hopkinton] teachers union wants to speak with administrators about the coming budget crunch", which is far less specific and far more open-ended.

    As to the unions that represent Wayland employees (teachers, p;olice, fire, library, clericals, service/maintenance, etc.), I make no predictions.

    And as to your question whether I've "never seen a union vote for a pay cut", my answer is that I have, but such situations are rare indeed. I have some additional thoughts on this topic that, for obvious reasons, would be inappropriate for me to discuss in this forum, but that I'd be happy to discuss with you personally.

  5. #5
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    Default Continued...

    Steve,

    After re-reading the article, it does seem (open ended) as you said. But I'm still not sure if it rules out any given source of the suggestion. In the end, if Hopkinton does re-open those contracts and gets more favorable terms then it really doesn't matter where the suggestion came from and that's really the point I was was trying to make in my article. Its not business as usual and not being business as usual is, in fact, rare as (you stated) as reducing pay terms of a given union contract is.

    The real point is that the Selectmen-FinCom-SC all placed a re-opener on the Ad-Hoc list some 3 years ago, (me included) and kept it there for 2 1/2 years and then it disappeared and was never tried. I'm saying that times demand that this approach be reexamined and actually tried.

    I'm as concerned about quality education as anybody and if smaller class sizes mean status quo on the number of teachers then we either raise taxes in FY10 or reduce salaries or do a RIF. FY10 is not going to be pretty so this is some forward thinking in preparation for that event. Because I think its coming.

    I am certainly interested in hearing your offline thoughts if you would share them with me. You know how to contact me.

    Alan

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