Feb 10, 1998

FEBRUARY 10, 1998


1. Yet another mediation session has come and gone with still no contract agreement and none in sight. As we presented a complete report on the mediation session of February 2 at the recent general membership meeting I won't go into detail regarding what happened at the session. Actually the summary of progress would be a very short one. We talked about severance. We talked about insurance. The district did not make a financial proposal, even though it was their turn to do so.

At this point I'm getting angry. I'm tired of 2. the district's team claiming that they are lacking in authority to make a further offer. I'm frustrated that we never see a school board member at any of the sessions. It is difficult to understand that the district's negotiators could actually believe that they are negotiating in good faith. 3. How does one explain a school district which appears to have so little regard for its teaching staff?

In the last newsletter I attempted to provide information demonstrating how we have lost ground to inflation. included were examples of how we compare to other districts. It wasn't a pretty picture. 4. Even if we were to receive a percentage settlement similar to comparable districts we would still fall farther behind as they would be taking percents of larger amounts.


5. This is supposed to be our year to make up what we gave up when the district was so far in debt.

6. It is not a question of money. The district has many, many millions of dollars in reserve. Even if some of this reserve is dedicated to some required purpose the district has to be earning hundreds of thousands in interest. 7. Gee, they have to be earning a lot on what they owe to us through a new contract. No, it isn't a question of money. They have a lot of money.

It is a question of respect! In fact, it is more a question of just how little respect the 8. "Gang of Five" from our school board and administration have for teachers. Witness the events of the past few years. The Edison schools, the attacks by the superintendent on our system (as recent as January 28), statements made by school board members at meetings, the way 9. the "Gang of Five" treats anyone who disagrees with them, the creation of a climate of fear within the school district, and assaults on the integrity of union leadership are just a few examples. You all know that I could go on and on. We all have our own personal stories to tell. Not a day goes by when our office does not receive yet another example. We could write a book. In fact, to be able to include everything we would have to write a book. You know, it just isn't right.

10. This school district owes us. It doesn't just owe us for what has happened to our salary schedule and how they have forced us to reduce benefits. The district owes us for the insults, the slights, and the mistreatment they have heaped upon us for the past three years.

11. There is no way that some of these people can ever make amends. The damage is too great. We will not let them off easily.

The first step is a FAIR and EQUITABLE contract settlement. Then and only then when they have demonstrated that they have some level of respect for us will we be willing to offer to reconcile their many wrongs.

Frank Wanner


My Response

1. This is truly a hateful message. Frank complained to me much earlier that his teachers were really mad and that he was under pressure to negotiate hard. After reading a few year's worth of newsletters it didn't surprise me that our teachers were angry. From what Frank had told them they should have been furious




2. This became part of a mantra that all the teachers repeated. But our negotiating team knew how far the school board was willing to go which, until the bitter end, was only as far as we could go without making cuts.


3. How does one explain a union president telling his members such nonsense? It can't help morale but it can increase bitterness and make them eager to strike.



4. I'm not sure what Frank means by this. I presume he is comparing us to rich suburban districts that have more money to pay their teachers than property poor Duluth.

5. This is more of the myth that the teachers fell behind in a previous contract. I don't think this is true. It didn't happen in 95-97 and this time our teachers ultimately got an 11% increase over 2 years compared to a statewide average increase of 9%.

6. Those "millions" are only six or seven weeks of operating money. The way Frank talks about it makes him sound like a turn of the century lumber baron talking about the never ending forests of America. We could never run out of trees.

7. This is another time honored myth: That the district is earning interest and hiding it from the teachers as though we were a publicly traded stock and our stockholders were making a profit. The fact is that any interest we earn becomes part of our teacher's paychecks. The union is only interested in short term gain for a few teachers and is not interested in letting us wisely manage our money to maximize it.

8. "Gang of Five" Hey that's me Frank's talking about!

9. This is the biggest joke of all. If teachers are afraid of anything its having the union shun them. I wrote back to a teacher about how exagerated this climate of fear stuff was. This reply is what got me in so much trouble.

10. This is not just rhetoric. Its a call for revenge!




11. Must be talking about me again.