Pattye Benson

Community Matters

TENIG Union votes against includingTE School District’s non-instructional aides — Why??

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.

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  1. I have no idea what’s going on here, but this relates to a glaring missed opportunity by the School Board that maybe the next Board can fix.

    The RTK papers confirm that the only ACA approaches presented to the Board were all or nothing: provide high cost healthcare to all 73 full time aides, pay various penalties (both at the price of millions of dollars) or out-source (and now we know that maybe we will pay penalties there, too, but lower). Nothing that hints at any kind of discussion along the lines of:

    – The nation has deemed it unacceptable that there are working people without healthcare coverage. We do, too.
    – This is our best estimate of the lowest cost to TESD for providing minimum possible coverage to these 73 full-time staff. We have considered estimates for what we know about their length of service, family status, likelihood of preferring an opt-out cash payment, etc. etc.
    – These valued staff members work all day in the same classroom and schools as teachers and administrators with Cadillac healthcare plans that cost the District somewhere around $10 million a year.
    – It is therefore our non-negotiable position that the next TEEA, admin and TENIG contracts will include concessions on benefit packages or other items that will cover at least 50% of the expected cost Taxpayers and other savings will fund the rest.
    – We understand that the aide/para coverage has to be effective in 2016/17 and the TEEA contract is not up until 6/30/2017. We will use a part of our $32 million Fund Balance to bridge that gap.
    – In the meantime we will use the measurement period to actually assess the situation and plan for a solution that treats everyone with the dignity they deserve.

  2. TENIG union members were told by Dan Waters that if they voted these sec aides into the union it would guarantee all of TENIG to be outsourced in 2016. As an employee with limited income, I’d like to keep my job so if that means sacrificing someone else that’s what I will do. And apparently I’m not alone with that decision.

    1. Thanks for confirming that some things never change. If TENIG employees think that by satisfying the big boss and voting against the aides, it means job security they are in a for a big surprise.

    2. Yet another example of Dan Waters management tactics of secrecy, intimidation and retribution. Why does our school board continue to support him?

    3. Yet another example of Waters’ supreme confidence in his proven ability to convince the SB to support, ratify and execute his bullying tactics.

    4. If what anonymous says is true, that:

      TENIG union members were told by Dan Waters that if they voted these sec aides into the union it would guarantee all of TENIG to be outsourced in 2016.

      For the lawyers out there, doesn’t this violate labor laws?

      1. If any of the administrators attempted to ‘influence’ the TENIG employees before the vote, my guess is that no one will speak up (except anonymously). Without proof, there is nothing that can be done.

  3. The aides are part of the instructional staff. Would not make sense for aides to join a union that represents non-instructional staff.

    1. The vote on Thursday by TENIG union was to add 20 District aides that were ‘non-instructional’ so yes, all were qualified for membership.

  4. If TENIG employees think their safe, your wrong. Enjoy your next two years under your contract because your will be the next outsourced group. TENIG gave up a lot the last time, what more are you willing to give up. The district is using the ACA as reason for the outsourcing, but really it has a lot to do with PSERS. Truly feel sorry for aids/paras. It must be tough going into work when nobody really wants you. Good luck aids/paras your the best.

  5. First they came for the maintenance people and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a maintenance person.
    Then they came for the food service workers and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a food service worker.
    Then they came the non-instructional aides and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a non-instructional aide.
    Then they came for the paraprofessionals and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a paraprofessional.
    Then they came for me and there was nobody to speak up for me.


    Home » Rights We Protect » What’s the Law? » Employers
    Interfering with employee rights (Section 7 & 8(a)(1))

    Section 8(a)(1) of the Act makes it an unfair labor practice for an employer “to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7” of the Act. For example, you may not

    Threaten employees with adverse consequences, such as closing the workplace, loss of benefits, or more onerous working conditions, if they support a union, engage in union activity, or select a union to represent them.
    Threaten employees with adverse consequences if they engage in protected, concerted activity. (Activity is “concerted” if it is engaged in with or on the authority of other employees, not solely by and on behalf of the employee himself. It includes circumstances where a single employee seeks to initiate, induce, or prepare for group action, as well as where an employee brings a group complaint to the attention of management. Activity is “protected” if it concerns employees’ interests as employees. An employee engaged in otherwise protected, concerted activity may lose the Act’s protection through misconduct.)
    Promise employees benefits if they reject the union.
    Imply a promise of benefits by soliciting grievances from employees during a union organizing campaign. (However, if you regularly solicited employee grievances before the campaign began, you may continue that practice unchanged.)
    Confer benefits on employees during a union organizing campaign to induce employees to vote against the union.
    Withhold changes in wages or benefits during a union organizing campaign that would have been made had the union not been on the scene, unless you make clear to employees that the change will occur whether or not they select the union, and that your sole purpose in postponing the change is to avoid any appearance of trying to influence the outcome of the election.
    Coercively question employees about their own or coworkers’ union activities or sympathies. (Whether questioning is coercive and therefore unlawful depends on the relevant circumstances, including who asks the questions, where, and how; what information is sought; whether the questioned employee is an open and active union supporter; and whether the questioning occurs in a context of other unfair labor practices.)
    Prohibit employees from talking about the union during working time, if you permit them to talk about other non-work-related subjects.
    Poll your employees to determine the extent of their support for a union, unless you comply with certain safeguards. You must not have engaged in unfair labor practices or otherwise created a coercive atmosphere. In addition, you must (1) communicate to employees that the purpose of the poll is to determine whether the union enjoys majority support (and that must, in truth, be your purpose); (2) give employees assurances against reprisal; and (3) conduct the poll by secret ballot.

    If what anonymous saying is true:
    Is the SB condoning a violation of Federal Law by supporting the Admins. bullying tactics? See Section 8 of the National Labor Law.

  7. Please explain to me how Dan Waters “threatened” to outsource TENIG…was it made to one person or a group ???
    Next question..the timing of this.. WHY now? He’s retiring in less than 2 months and in a few weeks we stand to replace/elect half the school board. The TENIG contract is good for 2 more years…a lot of GOOD can happen with a change in management. its just a shame that the SOME of the aides /paras couldn’t have been saved with the TENIG vote.

  8. I agree. Hopefully there will be a big shake up with the school board at election time. Time for new blood.

  9. I hope Waters knows karma is a bitch… and yes, this would be illegal.. and to the TENIG members, looks like you guys will be on the hook in the not too distant future.. I won’t be rooting for you.. glad this isnt a war.. wouldnt want you all in a foxhole with me..

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