Timberlane Teachers Achieve Last Minute Deal, School Board Continues to Engage in Union Busting
Timberlane temporarily avoids catastrophe
PLAISTOW, NH— January 9, 2023 —The leadership of the Timberlane Teachers’ Association released the following statement:
In a final effort, the Timberlane Teachers’ Association has achieved a last minute deal for a one-year agreement with the Timberlane Regional School Board that avoids what would certainly have been a critically disastrous situation for the District. Timberlane educators are already working without a contract for this school year and have not seen any step movement or cost of living adjustments. This deal makes little headway in resolving the many issues facing Timberlane including under-valued wages, working conditions, and earned benefits. This agreement is only a one year deal, which stabilizes the situation and brings the parties back to the bargaining table in the Spring.
Today, the members of the TTA ratified this agreement in the hopes of a more positive and productive negotiation for next year. Sadly, the School Board used their ratification vote this evening as a platform to berate the teachers’ negotiating team and engage in union busting rhetoric. Former School Board Chair, Dr. Kim Farah, insinuated that the teachers’ negotiating team hid details of their earlier offers from their members. Not only is this patently untrue, as the teachers’ negotiating team held several heavily attended informational meetings and discussions with their membership throughout the process, but her assertion that the Board had offered several options since the teachers resoundingly voted down the last agreement on December 8, 2022 was misleading, at best. In reality, the TTA negotiating team did not declare impasse until a full membership meeting was held and proposals from both sides had been shared. The Board continually only offered proposals that made minimal movement from the failed agreement, including pushing the negotiating team to accept the failed agreement, while the teachers made nearly half a dozen substantively different proposal that were all rejected out of hand by the Board. She further asserted that the teachers walked away by declaring impasse. We are not sure why Dr. Farah, who is well experienced in negotiations, would say something so disingenuous. Impasse was declared because the Board team refused to negotiate in good faith and the impasse procedure according to NH law then allows for a third party mediator to referee the negotiations.
Current Chair, Brian Boyle, said he was “disheartened” and accused the teachers’ team of purposely misinforming their membership about the failed agreement and asked the Superintendent if he could violate labor practices and undermine the Union by conveying the Board’s talking points. This last recrimination is most pertinent when taking into account that the School Board refused to transparently share their costing to tax payers with the Union team and misrepresented the cost of proposals to the tax payers by assuming that all teachers that would be hired would be at the highest level salary. This, in turn, would give the tax payers of the district a misleadingly higher bill on the ballot than they would actually see. School Board team member Mark Sherwood claimed that their failed proposal would have given more money to a majority of the teachers. This is deceptive, as only a few hundred dollars in annual salary for the most loyal teachers would be offset by giving up thousands in their retirement incentive and meager pay raises for 54% of the teachers with 15 years of service to educating their community’s children. Additionally, 65% of those experienced teachers have dedicated 15 years or more to the Timberlane community, alone.
The Timberlane Teachers’ Association had been hopeful that today’s short term agreement would allow both sides to take a step back, reflect, and prepare for the next round of negotiations. Unfortunately, the School Board used the moment to attack the teachers and their Union. While we wish the members of the Board would take this time for introspection and honesty, it is clear that only the voters of this District can correct the course that Timberlane has been on for the last few years. We vociferously call on the voters and stakeholders of the Timberlane Regional School District to pass the one year agreement. We also call on them to hold their elected officials accountable and elect pro-public education and pro-educator people to the Timberlane Regional School Board; ones whose words are reflected in their actions, and are not just empty gestures.
For more information, press only:
Ryan Richman, Spokesperson for the Timberlane Teachers’ Association, email@example.com