Teachers’ demands affect everyone

I have just learned that the Unionville-Chadds Ford Education
Association has again rejected the fact-finder’s report and apparently remains
adamant in its demand that we must pay them more than has been proposed by the
UCFSD Board. I’m writing to
express my dismay and frustration with the union’s position and to challenge
the union’s negotiating stance.

What I’ve read on the UCFEA Web site and heard regarding
statements attributed to UCFEA spokespersons, the union believes that its
demands are in keeping with their definition of “fairness.” but fair to
whom? Many of us in the UCFSD are
living within our means, but we’re increasingly having to make choices
concerning how and where to spend our money. Our incomes are fixed and or reduced, and our expenses just
keep rising. Moreover, in case the
union missed it, our school taxes are based on assessed property value, not on
income, so as the rates go up, our disposable income—if there is any—goes
down. This affects every resident
in the district either directly of indirectly, and it is not income dependent. Is it “fair” that I have to forego
certain expenses so that I can pay for raises for teachers who are making more
than the median earned income in the district? Is it “fair” that the union decides how I should spend my
money? Is it “fair” that folks who
cannot keep pace with the tax increases have to leave the district?

When I think about the ongoing negotiations, I first try to
articulate my goals, which are (in priority order, highest to lowest):

·
Provide a quality education for all the children in the
disgtrict

·
Establish an affordable and sustainable economic
foundation to pay for educational “essentials” and to defray a portion of the
costs “non-essentials”, especially for families who are otherwise unable to
afford them

·
Within the framework created by the above, hire the
best teachers we can, and find ways to reward those who excel

In my opinion, we have yet to accomplish or even agree upon
the second of my goals; therefore, no amount of haggling on the third will get
us to where I’d like for us to be.

With regard to affordability, I simply cannot continue to pay
an ever-increasing percentage of my disposable income (that which is left over
after state and federal taxes but before school taxes and “discretionary”
expenses) to everyone who thinks they deserve it. How much, as a percentage of income” does the UCFEA contend
that I should pay for teachers’ compensation. If my income declines, is the union prepared to take a
commensurate reduction in salaries and benefits?

On the subject of sustainability, while the UCFEA would like
to disregard the impact of PSERS, those of us who pay the bills simply cannot. UCFEA argues that the state picks up a
portion of the cost, and while that’s been true in the past, there’s simply no
guarantee that it will continue. If
it is not, guess who has to pick up the difference?

Perhaps the union is not aware of the funding challenges
associated with defined benefit plans?
In the private sector, huge unfunded liabilities were contributory to
numerous bankruptcies, and many workers saw their pensions drastically reduced
by the courts. I believe that the
public sector’s day of reckoning is at hand, and I’d urge the union to get
ahead of the game by working to establish a new defined contribution retirement
plan.

Mike
Ashmore
Chadds Ford Township

About CFLive Staff

See Contributors Page https://chaddsfordlive.com/writers/

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