Pattye Benson

Community Matters

T/E School District Teacher Contract Update … Special Meetings to Consider Fact Finder’s Report

Back on June 19, the contract negotiations between the T/E School District and the teachers union, Tredyffrin Easttown Education Association (TEEA) reached an impasse and both sides requested that the PA Labor Relations Board (PLRB) assign it to a ‘Fact Finder’. The neutral third-party was to review the proposals of TESD and TEEA and then make a recommendation.

On June 30, the contract deadline for the T/E teachers came and went with no new contract signed. As of July 1, the school district and the teachers union, TEEA entered the ‘status quo period. Status quo freezes the teacher’s salary at the 2011/12 salary until a new contract is signed. The teachers continue to receive their salary at the current rate until either (1) a strike or lockout within the terms the 1992 Act 88 or (2) they enter into a new contract. The teachers health care benefit plan remains intact (based on the expired contract term) during the status quo period.

The Fact Finder’s report was issued on July 30 and TESD and TEEA has 10 days to notify PLRB as to whether they accept or reject the report. The School Board and Administration are expressly prohibited from making any statements about the Fact Finder report until after PLRB releases it for publication. But PLRB will only release it for publication after either or both sides formally inform the PLRB that they are rejecting the report.

Here’s what I don’t understand – the School Board is holding two special meetings (August 9 and August 23) to consider the Fact Finder’s report. If the School Board is prohibited from making statements until the report is released and they only release it if one or both sides reject the report, how is it then possible that the School Board can now have special meetings to consider the report? Jeez, I must be missing something here on this process. Another question … is TEEA likewise prohibited from discussing the Fact Finder’s report. Keith Knauss, if you are reading Community Matters, can you help me understand how this process works.

I am curious, so I will attend this week’s special meeting on Thursday at 8 PM in the Tredyffrin Easttown Administration Office, 940 W. Valley Road, Wayne, PA.

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  1. By law, both parties have two chances to accept or reject the fact finder’s report. Although not required, the TE board will make their acceptance or rejection in a public meeting. The applicable section of Law is reproduced below:
    (c) Not more than ten (10) days after the findings and recommendations shall have been sent, the parties shall notify the board [Pa Labor Relations Board] and each other whether or not they accept the recommendations of the fact-finding panel, and, if they do not, the panel [Fact Finder] shall publicize its findings of fact and recommendations.
    (d) Not less than five (5) days nor more than ten (10) days after the publication of the findings of fact and recommendations, the parties shall again inform the board [PLRB] and each other whether or not they will accept the recommendations of the fact-finding panel.
    The second meeting is held after the report is made public and allows for input from the community.

  2. If I understand the Law correctly, there is no prohibition on publicizing the report or discussing it publicly at any time. In any case, the report will be published on August 9th by the PLRB (10 days after the report was given to the Board on June 30th). My guess is that the school board has already sent their decision to the PLRB and the meeting on the 9th will communicate the reasoning behind their acceptance or rejection.

    1. Thanks Keith. This is interesting since the press release from TESD says that they cannot discuss it until after PLRB goes public – which is why I was confused about the special meeting on the 9th. But also PLRB will only go public if one or both sides reject. But maybe what this means is that TESD knows that either they or TEEA rejected the review by PLRB and therefore can discuss that night.

      Didn’t it take a long time for the PLRB to make available the UCFSD review, or am I just not recalling it accurately.

  3. Here is the timeline for Unionville –

    8/1/10 Status Quo begins
    1/19/11 Fact Finding hearing
    1/30/11 Fact Finding report issued to both parties
    2/7/11 Board accepts report via public vote
    2/8/11 Union (vote of the membership) rejects report
    2/9/11 Report released to the public
    later in Feb Union rejects report the 2nd time

    1. Thanks Keith. I had forgotten that UCF teachers union rejected twice — that’s probably why I was recalling the process as so long. So … since most likely TESD and TEEA have already accepted/rejected the Fact Finder review, anyone want to speculate on the results?

  4. So the board wants to be transparent when they accept or reject. I wonder if the union will do that as well.

    1. Keith can confirm, but I believe the public meeting is. Legal formality. The board talks privately, but decisions (the vote to accept or reject) must be made in the sunshine, in public. I would assume that the meeting, absent any discussion, will be a vote and a motion to adjourn.

      I believe the teachers got together on Monday of this week to learn about the report and presumably to vote. There may be more than one session schedules for them?

      1. The teachers did meet on Monday….that was our only session….we discussed and voted on whether to accept the fact finders report or not…

  5. According to the Special Meeting Agenda on the TESD website, there will be no discussion of the Fact Finder Report but there will be a Board vote to accept or reject. There is also a Recommended Action statement on the Agenda to Accept the Fact Finder report. Is this a foreshadowing of the outcome???? Hard for the public to understand the expense/tax impact of the report without it’s public disclosure. By the time it is released to the public for review, it may already be the basis of a new contract.

    1. Thanks Neal, good thing I looked at the agenda! The meeting for Thursday was listed as 8 PM on the TESD press release whereas now the agenda states it will be 7:30 PM. Based on the agenda, I could have shown up at 8 PM and the meeting would have been over!
      Here’s the link to the TESD agenda:

      Neal is absolutely right, the agenda says the following:

      “The Board and Administration are expressly prohibited from making any statements about the Fact-finder report until the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) releases it for publication. The PLRB will only release it for publication after either or both sides formally inform the PLRD that they are rejected the report. This means that other than voting on the motion to approve or reject the report, Board members may not make any comment as to why they are voting to approve or reject. Therefore, there will be no discussion about the report itself at this time.”

      Keith, can you offer your opinion here — I thought you had said that the law does not prohibit discussion.

  6. I’ve looked at the Law, regulations and rules surrounding the fact finding process and cannot find any reference to not being able to comment. That said, the statement on the Board agenda must come directly from Sultanik. I defer to his judgement.

  7. I find it interesting that the superintendent has recommended, in a public document, that the Board accept the Report.

  8. We should all be curious as the economic impact on the community could be material and long-lasting. I’ve reviewed a few on the PLRB Findings on their website. While it is hard to predict T/E’s result…my opinion (on limited input) is that Fact Finding seems to “split-the-difference” on many issues to give both sides a reason to accept. Has the TEEA made their position known? Each side must respond in 10 days and that would be Friday.

  9. Looks like the meeting has been moved to 8:00 PM. The Agenda details an executive meeting that night at 6:00 PM. Looks like that meeting will go for two hours before the public meeting. Is anyone aware of any more “off-the-record” meetings having taken place as detailed previously on the TEEA website?:

    On Thursday, June 7th and Monday, June 18th the Tredyffrin-Easttown Education Association and T/E School Board representatives met off-the-record in an attempt to resolve roadblocks to a fruitful contract negotiation process. TEEA would like to maintain transparency with the community as the contract negotiation proceeds.

    1. Gosh, I wish they would make up their minds — 8, then 7:30, now back to 8. For the record, I have reached out to Laura Whittaker, president of TEEA to see if she has any comments. If she chooses to make a statement, I will post on CM.

      1. I don’t believe you will hear anything until after the board makes their decision on Thursday. We were informed that if one or both parties reject the report, it will be made public after the ten day period. If both parties accept the report, the report is not made public, but you will obviously see the nuts and bolts of it in the new contract that would come from both sides agreeing to it.

  10. Did you notice in the special meeting agenda, that Dan Waters recommends accepting the report…

    Recommended Action: That the Board of School Directors for the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District accepts the Act 88 Fact-finder’s determination dated July 30, 2012 in the
    Matter of Fact-finding between the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District and the Tredyffrin/Easttown Education Association at Case No. ACT 88-11-27-E and authorizes the
    District to notify the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board and the Tredyffrin/Easttown Education Association of this action.

  11. Because the TEEA and TESD are not permitted to talk about the Fact Finder report until it is public, Laura Whittaker, TEEA president was limited as to what she could say. However, she was able to provide the following statement to me —
    “The members of TEEA have voted on the Fact Finder’s report, and Mr. Sultanik has been informed of the outcome of that vote. We await the School Board’s decision on Thursday.”

    1. “We await… SB’s decision”

      Reading into it, I wonder if they voted to accept. Otherwise, if they voted to reject, the SB’s decision is irrelevant and immaterial.

      Or am I reading too much into it?

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