Neshaminy teachers to strike Monday
Fed up with lengthy and fruitless negotiations, teachers in the Neshaminy School District in lower Bucks County have called a strike for Monday, high school biology teacher and union leader Louise Boyd said Friday night.
Boyd said the more than 650 members of the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers have worked four years without a contract and made six different proposals, including contributions to health-care plans and reductions in health-care benefits for retirees.
"Quite frankly, it's been a long haul with the school district, and at numerous meetings all we heard was, 'Take the offer or leave it,' " Boyd said.
Barring a weekend resolution, Boyd said, teachers would carry picket signs Monday, though she declined to specify plans.
In a statement, Neshaminy School Board President Ritchie Webb did not seem inclined toward a quick resolution, telling the district's lawyer to cease negotiations.
"By instituting a job action aimed at our children and their parents, the NFT's actions are inflicting financial harm and inconvenience to families in our district," Webb said. "As school board president, I am also concerned that our teachers are causing irreparable harm to their reputation within the Neshaminy community."
Boyd said the teachers' sixth and latest proposal included annual salary increases, beginning with 2.75 percent for the 2011-12 school year, with 3 percent and 3.25 percent in the following years. The salary increases would be offset by teachers' paying 8 percent of major-medical costs and other increases in prescription-drug expenses.
Boyd said the union had tired of thinking it had reached consensus on budget figures with district officials, only to have district leaders say different things to the media and the public.
Webb said parents should complain to the union. "I urge all members of the Neshaminy community to stand with us during this difficult time," he said in his statement.
Contact staff writer Kristen Graham at 215-854-5146, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @newskag on Twitter.