Entering Into Bargaining

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

A Message from Linda Waldbaum Newsletter Editor

As we approach the end of our current 5-year contract, the PFT has already initiated the first phase of contract negotiations. We would like to express our gratitude to all members who took the time to complete the initial contract survey. 

The PFT leadership has carefully reviewed the responses and identified 10 critical areas where additional feedback from you is requested. Please take a moment to share your thoughts and suggestions by clicking on the following link: https://bit.ly/Contract-FollowUp23-24

The process of crafting a new contract varies across school districts. In most cases, traditional bargaining methods involve both sides presenting a list of demands. Lawyers, representing the District, along with the NYSUT Labor Relation Specialist (LRS) representing the Union, then engage in a back-and-forth process, resulting in a contract that is based on compromises which may not fully satisfy either side.

Since 2005, Plainedge has embraced a different approach known as Interest-Based Bargaining. This collaborative and constructive process places the best interests of the school, students, teachers, and community at its core. Nothing is off the table, and both parties leave the negotiation with a contract that benefits everyone involved, having started from a position of common purpose.

In stark contrast to the traditional method, where only the lawyers and LRS negotiate on behalf of the Union and the District, the PFT and administration communicate directly with each other. Every participant at the negotiating table has a voice. This inclusive approach has been the cornerstone of negotiations in Plainedge throughout four contracts and three superintendents. It has also allowed our union to go over 20 years without an expired contract. 

The power of being directly involved in the negotiation process requires negotiating representatives to have a complete understanding of our current contract and its language, prior negotiation experience, knowledge of negotiation trends and other union contracts in the area, and years of dedicated service to the PFT. Moreover, it is critical that there are representatives from both elementary and secondary levels. Using this criteria, the following negotiation committee was selected and unanimously approved by the PFT Executive Council at our October meeting:

  • PFT President Perry Fuchs (Chief Negotiator) - Perry has been our PFT president for the past 9 years and has been involved in the negotiation of the past 2 teacher contracts (chief negotiator in 2019) and 2 teaching assistant contracts (chief negotiator in both 2016 and 2020). Throughout his time as President, he has been an advocate for all teachers and has been committed to upholding the integrity of our contract on a daily basis.
  • Secondary Vice President Brian Buckley - This will be Brian’s 3rd contract negotiation. He has been a PFT council member for 15 years and possesses a deep understanding of contract language. He was a middle school teacher for 13 years and has been educating students in the high school for the last 6 years. Brian brings unique experience to the negotiation team, understanding the needs of both the MS and HS membership.
  • Elementary Vice President Tiffany Diem - Tiffany has been a member of the PFT for nearly 30 years and was a member during the “no contract” years of 96-98. She has served on our Council for over 10 years with 4 years as an officer, and also served on the 2019 negotiating team. Even during her health leave, Tiffany has agreed to help out with negotiations when she is able to do so. 
  • Elementary Interim Vice President Maria Fochi - Maria has served on the PFT council for 10 years and has been the PFT Board Observer for the past 6 years. She has knowledge of what is best for our members both as an elementary teacher and a special education teacher.
  • PFT Treasurer Joe Como - Joe is our most senior negotiator, having been a part of every negotiation team since 2005. Joe served as a building representative for approximately 20 years and has served as the PFT Treasurer for the past 4 years. Joe is in charge of making sure all the salary data has been calculated correctly by the District and advocating for the best possible distribution of raises for our membership.
  • PFT Secretary Mike Cipriano - Mike, our current PAC Coordinator and PFT Secretary, was a building representative for 5 years and has served as the PFT Secretary for the past 3 years. In addition to providing input on the needs of PPS providers in the District, Mike will be tasked with the responsibility of taking our official notes during negotiations.
  • PFT Building Representative Denise Ecke - Denise has 27 years of experience in the classroom and has served on the PFT council for the past 7 years. She will also provide important insight to the negotiation team focusing on the needs of our elementary school members.

Each member of our negotiating team has demonstrated a deep commitment to our organization. They have served as elected representatives and understand the weight of their responsibilities to all members. As we move forward, our PFT Leadership Council is confident in the strength and dedication of our negotiating team. Together we aim to secure a strong contract that serves the best interests of all PFT members. 

In solidarity

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