Backroom Contract Deals
Pennsbury school board members Simon Campbell and Allan Weisel – part of a minority of four board members – were looking Thursday when an unpublicized meeting of contract negotiators almost occurred. We say almost because Campbell and Weisel, being outcasts, are not the board’s official negotiators. So when they showed up to “observe” the session, representatives of the teachers union took their proposal and went home.
Taxpayers should be OK with that, maybe even thankful. While some will characterize Campbell and Weisel as obstructionists and troublemakers, in our view they were standing up for the public’s right to know.
One of the problems with the way teachers contracts are negotiated – if not the biggest problem – is secrecy. A board negotiating team meets with union representatives sometimes for months or even years to hammer out a labor agreement. The sessions are closed to the public and not much of what negotiators agree to is communicated to the people who will pay for the deal – taxpayers – before the full school board gives its “tentative” approval. Likewise, union officials keep the deal under wraps until teachers vote.
I didn’t realize the contract negotiations were with only a few of the board members. I still blame them all.