“Status Quo” Stranglehold

“Status Quo” Stranglehold

Published: Mar 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm

By Simon Campbell.

“Status Quo”. It’s an expression you likely haven’t heard much about when it comes to teacher unions. But every media reporter, parent, and taxpayer should understand this issue.  It’s a huge one.  The teachers’ contract has expired at Pennsbury and Neshaminy school districts. Both districts are currently operating under ‘status quo’. It means that teachers are working under the terms and conditions of the old contract. All salaries and benefits remain frozen as of the day of the expired contract. But here’s the kicker: all working conditions must remain frozen too.  Status quo continues indefinitely until such time as a new contract is agreed. It’s the law.

So think about it. ‘Status quo’ means that the teachers’ union enters into contract negotiations knowing they can do no worse than they’re currently getting. Every salary and benefit gain obtained in the past is grandfathered in.  For there to be an actual salary or benefits reduction, it would require agreement via a new contract for such a thing to occur. Good luck getting the union to agree to that! And remember, teachers can’t be laid off for economic reasons and tenure ensures a job for life. Taxpayers should get very upset with union-backed state legislators that allow crazy laws like ‘status quo’ to exist.

Here’s some news you haven’t read about. The Pennsbury teachers union recently filed a grievance claiming a status quo violation regarding their healthcare contributions.  Our teachers currently pay 10% of their healthcare. Well last year, our insurance carrier raised the premiums to the school district. Welcome to insurance companies, right? The Board’s definition of status quo is that teachers are frozen at a contribution rate of 10%, so they have to pay 10% of the additional premium cost. But union leadership decided their definition of status quo is that their members’ health care contributions should be frozen dollar-wise. They don’t want to pay a nickel more. They believe the school district, i.e. you the taxpayer, should shoulder 100% of the additional insurance cost. And now you, the taxpayers, have to pay legal fees to fight the union’s grievance. It is outrageous.

‘Status quo’ also requires that working conditions remain the same after contract expiration. If a school district changed any working conditions the teachers’ union could file a status quo grievance, which means they file a complaint that could go through arbitration and into our court system, to demand a return to how things were. You may think it sounds like an exaggeration but if a school district changed a vending machine from Coke to Pepsi the union could take such legal action.

How many parents in Pennsbury agree with me that the school calendar is a mess? November is a disaster with the number of days off. My wife is always saying “You’re on the school board. Can’t you do something about it?” I would love to.  In fact, in a recent community survey 74% of respondents said they wanted the school calendar changed. But if the school board votes to reconfigure the calendar into something the public wants, guess what will happen? The union will file a grievance claiming a status quo violation. Pennsbury teacher union president George Miller has already threatened our CEO Paul Long that he will do this. By changing the school calendar to respect parents’ wishes we could get sued and forced to change it back again, creating havoc in the process. Our managerial rights are basically stripped to nothing under ‘status quo’. Union boss Miller knows it too. He showed up at a recent Pennsbury school board meeting to arrogantly state: “get a new contract settlement and the calendar is yours.” That’s when my blood begins to boil. He isn’t thumbing his nose at Simon Campbell when he says that. He is thumbing his nose at our entire community.

‘Status quo’ is a disaster for taxpayers, parents and students. Unlike other elected officials who pussyfoot around the teachers union, I have no hesitation saying that if it were down to me I would de-certify and end this miserable organization yesterday.

Simon Campbell, Bucks County, is an elected Pennsbury school board director and the founder of Stop Teacher Strikes.