Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Are Unions Trying to Intimidate Council Members?

Earlier this month, the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional Board of Education voted to eliminate 78 jobs. Like almost every town, Matawan is facing budget cuts and they HAVE to find ways to save costs in order to keep property taxes stable. At the same time, the teachers union are demanding a 5% raise! Top pay in the district is around $90k, which is way more than most of the residents who are supposed to approve it are making. The teachers' jobs are safe, but among the layoffs required by the board are the school custodians, and their activities would be outsourced to a private company (which, by definition, is more efficient than any Government-operated enterprise).

This Sunday morning, freshman Matawan Councilwoman Toni Angelini woke up to find her porch smeared of grape jelly and her trees full of toilet paper. She'd just been graped and TP'd overnight. Was it a prank? Her three children are way too young for their friends to do it. Or could it have anything to do with Ms. Angelini's positions? She told us: "I believe that the teachers are going full force behind the custodians because they believe that they are next. If they are so concerned about the custodians, they could offer up some solutions (i.e., taking a % cut in salary or donating time) instead of trying to scare parents into begging for the status quo."

Toni Angelini hopes it's just a coincidence and she's not accusing anyone of being responsible for this.

Instead, the teachers had just sent an email to parents, from which we're quoting: "Well, our Board of Education wants to fire our school’s custodians and instead, hire strangers to be around your children." Ms. Angelini's position is that "the safety of our children will not be compromised due to the background checks that will be done by the private companies themselves". And I can bet that the private companies will hire probably some of the people being laid off, only that their bureaucracy and overhead will be lower than the Board can ever be.

The teachers' fear-mongering goes even further: "I can keep your children safe in the classroom, but what about in First Grade, when they are using the hallway bathrooms?" Now I'm not implying anything, but if they're using these kind of scare tactics, I've heard of more child abuse cases coming from teachers than from security guards...

To continue... "Our Union and teachers understand the need to explore cost savings options, but refuse to support any measure that does so at the expense of our children." So what about doing it at the expense of the union itself? Like not demanding a 5% raise in a recession year with basically no inflation?

Ms. Angelini tells us: "I do not hold the teachers responsible for this mess, however if they begin to stand in the way of making the proper adaptations to school board budgets, they will become part of the problem. To become a teacher is a calling, I truly believe it is a gift to be able to educate and inspire students on a daily basis. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the profession. However, I do NOT respect the NJEA. I have been able up until this point to keep the two very separate. It will be up to the teachers as individuals to ensure that they too maintain the distance between teaching our children and representing a union's best interest."

So to get back to the original point: Is the vandalizing of the Councilwoman's house on the day before an important Board of Education meeting an intimidation attempt by the teachers union? She doesn't think so, but if that were true, Ms. Angelini should be glad she's not an elected official in Staten Island, or she would've found a horse head on her steps.

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