I received the following email while at work last night so I was unable to post it here until this morning. The email is from MTEA President Linda Guyer and was sent to all members of the Middletown teacher’s union Friday afternoon. After reading it my jaw was left hanging open.
With the Middletown Board of Education facing an $11million budget deficit and in the face of potential layoffs of many of its members that would affect class size and loss of programs throughout the district, the MTEA is planning on taking the advice of its parent organization, the NJEA and stand up to the “bullying” tactics of Governor Christie. They are planning to oppose any and all attempts at reopening their existing contract that would lead to wage freezes or any other type of givebacks by their members.
Instead they will attempt to get the message out to parents of district school children about how looming layoffs will affect their kids and to put a spotlight onto “lies” that the governor is telling everyone about their union, essentially using the children that they teach as a wedge between parents and Trenton.
In the past, I always thought of myself as a good union man, but there are times that battles should be fought and times when union members should use their heads and common sense should rein. With an $11million budget deficit staring them in the face, the MTEA should be worried more about protecting the jobs of its members and not about fighting over a wage freeze.
The economy is bad and the state unemployment rate is over 10%, there is little sympathy to go around for public union members who, over the past few decades have gotten fat off the land while private sector employees have had to deal with corporate downsizing, stagnant wages and rising health care co-pays, so if the MTEA expects township residents to be behind them, I think they are in for a rude awakening.
Since my kids have been categorized as “other learning disabled” and have had IEP’s, I have tried not to speak out against the school system or their teachers even though we have had to fight the system. As a result, my kids have been very fortunate to have some of the most caring professionals teach and look out for them, so I can empathize with the situation that the MTEA finds itself under, but it’s time to bite the bullet and do what’s right.
Protect your union members by taking a wage freeze and protect the taxpayers of the district and their children by helping to keep the looming budget cuts and tax increases to a minimum.
If program that benefit my kids and kids like them are cut or eliminated and their education and futures are put at risk then I would hold the MTEA and its members accountable for their failures just as I plan on holding Governor Christie accountable 4 years from now for putting all of us in this situation in the first place.
*From:* Guyer, Linda A
*Sent**:* Friday, March 19, 2010 4:15 PM
*Subject:* URGENT!! General Membership Meeting
To All MTEA members,
As you all are acutely aware, we a facing the fight of our professional lives right now. The devastating cuts that the governor has proposed will have chilling effects across our state and impact /our/ school district to the tune of over 11 million dollars! This will mean layoffs, larger class sizes and a possible loss of programs. The Board of Education and the Superintendent are in the process right now of developing a budget that will be presented to the County Superintendent on Monday.
We need to stand up to the bullying tactics that our governor is using to incite the public through the media. Governor Christie has said that he would be /happy/ to sign bills that would violate collective bargaining. NJEA has said that we need to PROTECT our collective bargaining agreement! We must think of it as our bible in the workplace! Our collective bargaining agreement gives meaning and integrity to our workplace. Our contract is never reopened in boon economies to provide
the benefit of an increase, and we should not be expected to reopen it now, when we bargained fairly for our settlement. On Thursday March 11^th at Representative Council, a motion was made, seconded, and unanimously passed */_not_/* to agree to or approve a salary freeze. The NJEA’s stand is also very clear on this critical issue, “We will not open our contracts or freeze our salaries”. Our principles are not for sale.
I welcome any and all suggestions that our members have in order to face this crisis and get the truth out to our community about the lies that the governor is telling. We need as many members as possible to attend the upcoming budget meeting on March 24^th to get the word out to the community about how the looming layoffs will affect their children. We as a union must stay together and take action where we can.
This is what NJEA recommends that we can and should do in the next 72 hours:
* Call your Assemblymen
* Visit their offices
* Write letters if you haven’t done so yet
* Get your family members and friends to write letters
* Visit the NJEA website for talking points
* On the NJEA website is a separate area called Keep the Promise
where you will find the analysis of the bills, Q & A, and the
truth about pension funding
* Use the Legislative section on the NJEA website to Cyber Lobby and
also watch the video about our pensions and pass it on to friends
We know that there are many questions and concerns that need to be addressed and are going to be holding a General Membership meeting on Tuesday, March 23^rd at Jacques at 4:00, to discuss them. Our NJEA Uniserv Representative, Marc Abramson will be in attendance as well. Please make every effort to attend this very important meeting in order to be informed and united as we navigate these unprecedented changes.
We need to fight the schoolyard bully and not back down!
Linda Guyer, President
Amy Johnson, 1^st Vice President