Sorry for the barrage of emails, but the Superintendent has sent out a memo to staff that is designed to undercut our rally tomorrow, so we have to respond. Her memo, sent a few hours ago, says that the union has walked away from the negotiating table. That is a transparent distortion; here's what has happened.
Last Friday,11/11, the lead school department attorney contacted the BTU with three dates for a possible re-starting of negotiations. We accepted the earliest of the dates the department offered, which was December 2, and communicated our acceptance to the school department.
Yesterday, 11/16, our attorney told us that he could not attend the session on 12/2. As we were then at an arbitration hearing with another school department attorney, who also sits in on negotiations, we communicated to him that we could not meet on 12/2. This type of issue comes up routinely, and dates are changed to accommodate one side or another. We told the school department attorney that we would come back to him shortly with a few dates. He understood. The reason he understood is that the school department itself routinely cancels scheduled meetings and negotiating sessions.
Last night, after the arbitration hearing, we gave our attorney a set of five possible dates to offer the school department as possible alternative dates. (That memo appears below at the end of this email.) The dates offered were: 12/5, 12/9, 12/12, 12/15 or 12/19. A memo offering to reschedule ought to have been sent out last night. It wasn't, and we take responsibility for the oversight. The school department has now been notified of those dates as of 6:40 this evening in a memo from our attorney, and we expect the department will accept one or more of the dates so we can get moving on these negotiations.
This is not a case of the BTU playing 'cute' and trying to avoid negotiations. Just the opposite. We want to negotiate in earnest and we'd like the school department to respond to our proposals in a serious fashion.
The school department, on the other hand, has tried to use this opportunity to discredit our efforts to settle our contract negotiations. That won't work.
Rather than putting her efforts into trying to discredit our union, the superintendent herself ought to take a leadership role, first and foremost by attending negotiations. The superintendent has not attended a single minute of this process since it began over 17 months ago. Instead of hiding behind speechwriters who spin misinformation, the superintendent ought to come to the negotiating table.
Last Monday I spoke to a terrific group of interested parents and students at Freedom House in Roxbury and I promised that the BTU was willing and able to settle this contract by working 24-7. We are. We have much in common with those interested in improving our schools. We want good, motivated teachers in all our classrooms. We want input into how and what is taught in our schools. We also want the buses to run on time. And lastly, we expect a superintendent to fight for more resources and better facilities, not one who settles for less than what our schools need.
And that's why we will be outside our schools tomorrow AM with signs that say Talk to Teachers. When the school district begins to Talk to Teachers, we will begin to make some headway in improving our schools.
Below is the email we sent out last night to our attorney.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, Nov 16, 2011 at 5:14 PM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, C Carew <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Patrick Connolly <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Daniel Murphy <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Ed Doherty <email@example.com>, Gary Fisher <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Josefina Lascano <email@example.com>, "Matthew E. Dwyer" <MED@dwyerd.com>
forget the 12/2 mtg.; Matt cannot do
We have proposed a few alternative dates that Matt can attend. Matt has notified the BPS of same
12/9 -all day
Will let you know when we hear.