To the surprise of many, members of the Tredyffrin Easttown Non-Instructional Group (TENIG) took a vote yesterday on whether to accept approximately 20 ‘non-instructional’ TESD aides into their union. Falling close on the heels of Monday’s TESD meeting where the School Board voted to outsource the full-time jobs of 73 aides to CCRES (Chester County Regional Education Services), TENIG offer was seen by these aides as a lifeline to save some of the District jobs.
The bid to create a subset group within the TENIG union for the District’s non-instructional aides failed with a vote of 23-21. Although there are approximately 170+ TENIG employees, only 44 members attended the meeting to vote. The collective bargaining rules require a simple majority — a vote of fifty percent plus one of the votes cast. With 44 TENIG members voting, the target number was 23 votes. Unfortunately, for the small group of non-instructional aides, the 23 votes were against accepting them as new TENIG members.
If you recall, the TENIG collective bargaining members battled themselves against District outsourcing during the last couple of contract negotiation rounds. The current 3-year TENIG contract (July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2017) was settled under the threat of outsource vendor bids by the School Board. To avoid outsourcing, the current TENIG contract required the custodians to accept a 2% salary reduction and give back one week of vacation. The other TENIG members (security, kitchen, maintenance and cafeteria) all received a 4% salary reduction but their vacation benefits remained intact. For year 2 and 3 of the 3-year contract, TENIG employees received a freeze on their salary.
Ultimately, the TENIG contract saved the District $400K in healthcare, $207K with employee salary reduction and $207K with the custodian vacation giveback – a total savings of $719K to the District.
Under the current contract, the TENIG employees did not have to worry about outsourcing for the duration of their 3-year contract, which runs for another two years, until June 30, 2017. So the question is, why did the TENIG members vote against their fellow employees yesterday? After the Board’s vote at the Monday’s School Board meeting, the TENIG vote only added insult to injury to this small group of District employees.
Were the actions of TENIG employees just paranoia or a real fear of repercussion from the District? There is no doubt that some of the TENIG members were fearful of retaliation and either did not show up for yesterday’s vote or voted against the inclusion of the non-instructional aides into their collective bargaining unit.