After lengthy negotiations and a borderline call for a strike, a tentative agreement has been reached between the Unionville-Chadd's Ford School District and the teacher's union.
At last Wednesday's regular business meeting, School Board President Kathy Brown said that no details are available to the public but that the negotiations were continuing.
Later during the meeting, however, Board Member Paul Price gave a nearly 20-minute Power Point presentation outlining the district's "financial realities" where he spoke on a few brief details of the new contract.
Price also noted that the presentation was created of his own volition and does not reflect any board member's opinion but his own.
During the presentation, Price compared the salaries of U-CF teachers to salaries in the private sector, adding that teachers do not work in "the real world."
Later, during his summation, Price said that teachers unhappy with the salary conditions at U-CF are welcome to seek employment elsewhere.
"This is America," he said.
In a phone interview the next day, Price said he was outraged at the union's behavior during the negotiation process, adding that union officials were essentially telling new and current teachers to be uncooperative.
"They were advising teachers not to come in ahead of time to set up their classrooms, not to do anything they aren't being paid for," Price said.
He was also outraged at the union's request for a 6.3 percent annual increase in teacher's salaries for the length of the contract when the district had originally proposed no salary increases for a limited time.
The teachers have been without a contract since the most recent four-year contract expired on June 30.
Price said that the tentative contract calls for 2.1 percent more for the district in total dollars net. Under the proposal, teachers would pay 7 percent of benefits for themselves and their dependents.
He added that the union turned down a similar deal in early bird negotiations a year ago; Price said it was turned down flat because the union was looking for much more.
As the economy worsted through the winter and the negotiations continued, Price said, the teachers only increased what they were asking for.
"They are not in touch with what's going around in the real world," Price said.
In the most recent contract, teachers paid zero towards personal benefits and only 3 percent for dependents, according to Price.
The union's request for a 6.3 percent annual salary increase is exorbitant in the current financial climate, Price said.
"When somebody talks strike, you want to think they're like some oppressed people," Price said. "These people are making more than people paying the bills, and then they have the nerve to say 6.3 percent when the world is in retraction? They're out of their minds."
Price added that last year's higher end salaries placed the district as the eighth-highest salaries out of the 64 schools in the greater Philadelphia suburban area.
"The union leaders don't care about the good of school and they don't care about the good of students - not when they can tell teachers, 'don't go into the classrooms early,'" Price said. "That's showing you what they really think - they want more money, more money."
When asked for a response to Price's presentation, head negotiator Joe Derickson had no comment.
However, Derickson confirmed that the negotiations were continuing and that they were "pretty close" to finalizing the deal.