Michael Bernstein testimony transcript from the SRC meeting of April 27, 2017

mike Berstein SRC 4-27-17 pic
Click the picture for the video.

Good evening Commissioners and Dr. Hite

Friday March 24, 2017 marked 1300 days since the last contract agreement between the District and the PFT was in force. On the surface, 1300 might not sound like all that much. After all, (hold out ream of paper) there’s 500 sheets of paper in this ream. However, a chain looks a bit more like this: (indicate the sack holding the chain and start feeding it out onto the table while continuing)

What does this chain represent exactly? Back at the start of the 2012-2013 school year – the last ‘negotiation year’, the SRC and PFT simply had to get together and decide the terms of a new Contract.

However, rather than remain at the negotiating table, the SRC chose to go to the courts – wasting taxpayer money and time. Now that the SRC has exhausted their appeals, we are finally back to the same point we should have been back in early 2013. So, actually, this chain represents the time lost, time wasted, due to needless delay caused by the SRC’s unwillingness to negotiate in good faith.

The SRC has repeatedly said to the public that their work is “for the children”. Meanwhile, despite years of the SRC’s delay, obstruction and neglect, the members of the PFT continued to prepare for classes and teach our students.

At Southwark, we work and learn using the 7 Habits of Happy Kids and Highly Successful People.

Habit 5 states to “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood” – to practice actively listening and understanding the other party’s view then demonstrate your understanding.

Habit 6 says to “Synergize” – to work together and bring about success.

Because the SRC failed to follow either habit, millions of dollars have been wasted and the lives of our students have been harmed. The SRC has not demonstrated that they truly understand the sacrifices of school staff. You say you care, but your actions tell a very different story.
The SRC also likes to announce to the media what offers were given to the PFT and how wonderful these offers supposedly were. This is neither showing understanding nor synergizing in any way with the PFT, this is more obstruction. I always thought that publicly disclosing any terms during a negotiation was a violation of labor practices.

It’s been more than 1300 days and 1300 links. The PFT has waited. The children (who you say you care so much about) have waited, the parents have waited, the communities have also waited. Stop obstructing, stop posturing and stop SAYING “it’s for the children”. Give us a Fair Contract Now!

Thank you.