Sometimes Do Overs are possible …T/E School District Union Votes to Save Aides from Outsourcing!

What is the saying about no do-overs in life?  For approximately 25 non-instructional aides in the TE School District, they learned yesterday that do-overs are possible!

To the surprise of many, you may recall on April 30, members of the Tredyffrin Easttown Non-Instructional Group (TENIG) voted against including the small group of “non-instructional” TESD aides into their union.  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.

In the aftermath of the April 30 vote, some members of TENIG rallied behind their fellow District employees and mounted a campaign for another vote; a vote that would include absentee votes. The collective bargaining rules require a simple majority — a vote of fifty percent plus one of the votes cast.  The election results are in and the TENIG vote count to include the 20+ District aides is 53 Yes – 13 No.  The results indicate an overwhelming majority of the TENIG union members want their fellow District employees!

With the District’s deadline of May 15 (tomorrow) to outsource the full-time aides and paraeducators to CCRES, this news for the non-instructional aides could not come at a better time.  The saga of the District’s full-time aides and paraeducators and the threat of outsourcing have gone on for the last two years.

Faced with offering health care benefits to all District employees under Affordable Care Act or paying penalties for non-compliance, the School Board had made the decision earlier this year to outsource. The 73 full-time aides and paraeducators were given the option of either working for the outsourcing company to keep their full-time hours or reducing their hours to part-time (27.5 hr. and below) and remain a District employee.  The District employees had until May 15 to make their decision.

Although the outsourcing of the District’s full-time aides and paraeducators would have avoided the cost of providing health care and PSERS, the Board’s plan has a new wrinkle.  The current 3-year TENIG contract (July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2017) provides for health care benefits for all employees working 25 hours or more per week and as District employees, they receive PSERS.  Approximately 25 of the District’s non-instructional aides destined for outsourcing now will have a new home in the TENIG and enjoy the benefits of a collective bargaining group, which includes health care!

Although some steps remain in the process to formally add the non-instructional aides in to TENIG, the hard work has been done.  Congratulations to John Brooks, TENIG president and to the many TENIG members, who supported their fellow District employees, appreciated their value and fought to save their District jobs!

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27 Comments

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  1. Thank you! Love good news like these! Sharing on FB with all the other parents!

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    Pattye Reply:

    Yes, it is good news for some of the District aides! But remember, it is the non-instructional aides. Wouldn’t it be great if the teachers union picked up the remaining District aides and paraeducators.

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  2. You should read the CBA. Not sure, based on the timing, it provides the protections you think. And even if these employees are now bona-fide member, they will have the least seniority and thus will be the first to be laid off. I think this CBA only covers bona-fide members that have been duly admitted and pay dues.

    The board already took the vote to outsource, which was prior to the TENIG vote. I’m not sure the CBA gives the union authority to undo a board action. A fair reading of the CBA could mean that the district could still outsource.

    I would’nt be popping champagne bottles just yet.

    Don’t be shocked if the district lays them off or at the very least, challenges this. The dues aren’t cheap and represent a cost the aides didn’t have before.

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    Pattye Reply:

    No one is “popping champagne bottles” at this point; this is a step in the process. And yes, I have faith that the district will not “lay off them off”. You are correct that the aides going into TENIG will pay union dues which they didn’t pay before but they also receive health care benefits which they didn’t have before.

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  3. Thank you to those who have been in the trenches with the aides. (Pattye & Neal especially) and to the TENIG members who voted to support! Even if I’m not in this group, I feel so happy for my deserving coworkers. I wish all Aides/paras could be in this group. I hope the school board is also supportive, and moves this through easily. Thank you Pattye once again for keeping us in the “loop”.

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    Pattye Reply:

    I too hope that the school board (and administration) are supportive of TENIG’s efforts to include this group of District employees in their union. And it would great if the board allows the process of adding new TENIG members to move forward easily and without interference.

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  4. John Brooks,

    Make sure and look over your shoulder for a while because when I see you I may not be able to hold back and knock you over with joy.

    Thanks so much!

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  5. Thank you John Brooks for pushing through and doing what’s right even when many opposed, and not yielding to pressure. TENIG has their “own” voice, first time in years!

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  6. I’ll let HES parents know, we are all watching this board very closely. Elections around the corner! Congrats to the aides who are included here, we parents and our students are the real winners here.

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  7. I had been so disappointed in our union for so long, seeing dues taken out of my paycheck every month and seeing less and less satisfaction on so many issues!!! Every where you turn, it seems, you see “outsourcing” some form of employees at some school district. Seeing the outcome of this vote is a real reason one becomes a member of a union, to stick together and fight for what is right and fair for all. Not to mention the most important reason, WHAT IS RIGHT FOR OUR STUDENTS!!!!!!

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  8. not sure the TENIG vote can void what the board already voted on when the employees at the time of the vote were not covered under CBA. Also, given these new procedures around the TENIG vote, was that in compliance with their bylaws and within the spirit of the CBA?

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  9. You use the phrase “threat of outsourcing”. I guess our society has placed a negative connotation around the term “outsourcing”, but is it warranted?

    I hadn’t realized it before but in your fifth paragraph you outline the aides options and they don’t sound terrible. A) Stay w/ the district, keep contributing to PSERS and forfeit 2.5 hours a week. B) Become an employee of CCRES, keep everything you’ve had previously and get health insurance. I also have to keep in mind these typically aren’t career jobs (10% attrition per year), more entry level / resume building.

    I’m questioning to myself is this something we’re fighting just because it’s different and “outsourcing” has a perceived negative connotation?

    I’m all for unions though so… go team.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Reply:

    The following information in your comment is incorrect:

    A) Stay w/ the district, keep contributing to PSERS and forfeit 2.5 hours a week. B) Become an employee of CCRES, keep everything you’ve had previously and get health insurance.

    Option A: Aides are forfeiting more than 2.5 hours a week. To remain in the District, they go from full-time to part-time (27.5 hrs. or less). Example: If an aide works 34 hrs. a week currently, under the District’s offer they will lose 6.5 hrs. a week if they want to stay in the District.
    Option B: To retain their full-time hours in the District, you are correct they become an employee of CCRES. However, as an employee of CCRES, they DO NOT receive health insurance.

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    Contemplating Reply:

    Hmm, looks like my message didn’t go through the first time. Anyhow:

    “To retain their full-time hours in the District, you are correct they become an employee of CCRES. However, as an employee of CCRES, they DO NOT receive health insurance.”

    As I understand it, this is not entirely true either. As long as they work a certain amount of hours they will be eligible for insurance. The plan won’t be a cadillac as the teachers union’s but its not nothing.

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    Pattye Reply:

    Not sure where you received your information, at Finance Committee meeting, we were told that the outsourcing companies would not offer health insurance. In addition, the outsourcing company proposal stated that if they received an ACA penalty, the penalty would be passed on to the District.

  10. Feel great for the non-instructional aides that might be saved, but its the paras who work with the students that are really the ones who I worry about. The paras are the ones who work closer to the students and the outsourcing of them will be what hurts the most. The students are not going to be having the same paras and some of the students really need that one same person day in and day out. Good luck to all.

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  11. What does a non-instructional aide do? Are they all onboard in becoming part of TENIG and paying dues? What portion of the insurance will they have to pay? As a govt employee I had to pay for a part of the premiums.

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  12. I’ve read the referenced CBA. The key is to first look at sections 1.1 and 1.2 There is nothing there that would cover the aides in question. If the aides fit into one of the enumerated categories,they would have been TENIG members.

    The second section to look at is 2.1. This must be read in the context of sections 1.1 and 1.2. New employees means new employees in one of the enumerated categories.

    I suspect the TENIG vote has no effect because to recognize the new aides as TENIG members would effectively mean to amend section 1.2. No one party can unilaterally modify the CBA.

    Then, as previously stated here, there is the fact that the school board voted to outsource BEFORE this latest TENIG vote. There is nothing in the TENIG CBA that would come close to empowering the union to void a board action.

    Another interesting point is the TENIG voting process and whether it allows absentee votes. It would appear this is an out of the ordinary. The TENIG by laws would have to specifically allow absentee ballots. If they have never done this before and there is nothing in the by laws that allow absentee ballots, there is good reason to believe the vote is invalid. It doesn’t matter given the two points raised above.

    The school board would have to revisit its vote. Procedurally, this entire thing is out of order.

    Even if this was allowed to go forward, the board would be able to re-affirm its earlier action by laying off the aides off, which would the union would have to honor as they have the lowest seniority.

    There is no way this is going to stand as is. Assuming the vote is valid, each aide still has to agree to be a member which they should think carefully about.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Reply:

    A new subgroup will be formed under TENIG for the incoming District aides with TENIG as the umbrella organization. The first step was the majority vote from the TENIG members which allows the process to move forward.

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  13. This is a wonderful thing that the TENIG members did, but a think it may be a little too late. The aides had to have their decision to the board by today! The board may have had months to decide to outsource or cut hours, but the aides only had ONE WEEK to make their decision!!
    Also what is the guarantee that if they sign-off to lower their hours so they can stay an employee of the district and thus enter into the TENIG union that their original hours would be reinstated? Lots of questions with no time left to have them answered!!

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