"It became clear that the board was not interested in compromise," said Neshaminy Federation of Teachers president Louise Boyd. "For every step teachers have taken to find middle ground, the school board has taken two steps in the opposite direction."
Boyd led a rally outside union headquarters in Levittown. She says the union has bent over backwards to help the school board find ways to cut costs, including a proposal to contribute to their health plan premiums. But Boyd says the board is taking a "my way or the highway" approach.
"That is not bargaining," Boyd said. "That's posturing for a small but vocal group of anti-teacher residents."
There are others, however, who disagree. Ritchie Webb, the school board president, says negotiations cannot progress until the union wraps its arms around current economic realities.
"This is the worst economy we've seen in 75 years," Webb said. "Financially, the district doesn't have the money and what we're looking for is a reasonable contract that we can afford to pay."
Webb says Neshaminy teachers enjoy a very generous package, including a $78,800 average salary. Additionally, they currently do not contribute to their monthly health insurance premium and they're enrolled in a state pension plan.
Meantime, the union says teachers will report to work at the start of the school year but will only work to the letter of their last contract.
The union has already voted to authorize a strike but a walkout has not been scheduled yet. Meantime, the next negotiating session has been scheduled for tomorrow.