1.Many of you have no doubt noticed that it
has been quite awhile since you have received a newsletter. The reasons for this are
both of necessity and choice. Let me explain.
First the necessity. Now that even I have
come somewhat into the computer age, I have discovered that with the ease of computer use
comes the problem of computer breakdown. Mine broke and despite repeated attempts at
fixing it, involving extended phone conversations with a factory representative, it
remains broken. if you should ever consider purchase of a computer, you may want to talk
to me first. My computer, which I had somewhat facetiously named "Crash" has in
fact lived up to its name. May it now rest in peace. So much for the element of
Now on to choice. 2.During the course of the school board campaign, we made a
conscious decision as an organization to adopt a very low profile. We realized that
there were issues 'involving candidates' relationship to unions and union backing that
could become a part of the campaign. It should not have been so but we have to face the
reality of politics. 3.Unfortunately although our newsletter is designed for the
purpose of informing membership, it often times has a distribution which goes beyond the
membership. It is read by administration, school board members and often times is
shared with the media. What we put in newsletters often times affects what we read in the
newspaper. The idea was to rely on the efforts of the independent campaign committees to
achieve our goals in the election and therefore the union adopted a very low profile.
As well we thought it wise to not offer information on negotiations through the
newsletter until after the election had taken place. It is obvious that there are persons
and groups who would have liked to use the negotiations process as campaign fodder. We
wished to deny them that opportunity. 3. Information was given to building stewards at
the dinner meeting and to the membership at the October general membership meeting.
The election is now over and it is time to move on, which brings us to another
necessity, that of informing the membership. Thus we plan to resume our negotiations
updates through the newsletter.
It is probably also necessary at this time to reflect a bit on the outcome of the
school board election. 4.I think that there are probably some members who were
disappointed in that only two of our candidates won seats on the school board. It is
obvious that we would like to have seen the entire slate elected; however, in the final
analysis, I think it is fair to say we did just fine. 5.Just over two years ago we had
no friends on the school board. It seemed as though every vote was 9 - 0 against us
and the school board was 9 - 0 against us. 6. We now have six members who are friendly.
They may not always support our point of view, but they will be open to discussion and
will 7. vote their conscience on issues affecting public education in Duluth. Don't
forget this represents a 6 - 3 majority.
A lot of good work has been done over the course of the last two years. Our
appreciation should go out to the members of our election committee, in particular Sue
Anderson and Char Johnson. it was gratifying to see so many members in our office working
to get information out to not only our membership but to other voters as well. Many thanks
to all who took part.
Some members have also questioned why we did not respond to some of the charges and
accusations made by groups such as F.I.G.H.T. or by individual candidates. 7. A
conscious decision was made not to run a negative campaign and not to respond to
negative issues. To respond to organizations like F.I.G.H.T. just gives them more press
and more credibility. To respond to personal attacks would reduce us to the level of the
person making those attacks. This organization chose to take the high road. I'm glad we
did and I'm proud of the effort which was made.
In closing, let me give you a short negotiations update, thus far we have had two
mediation sessions. The atmosphere has been cordial and attitude has been positive.
Although this gives reason for optimism, it is well to remember that a number of major
issues remain to be resolved including salary. There are also some issues which must be
resolved by the membership prior to the negotiations. We will give you more information on
these in an upcoming newsletter.
Thank you for your patience, your support and your help. If you have questions or
concerns, please call me at ***-**** after 12:30 p.m.
Frank Wanner, President