Breaking: May 22, 2012 @ Noon.
Girard at Large has learned that Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas and Manchester Education Association President Ben Dick have agreed to terms that repair the “legal glitch” that nearly derailed the teachers’ union contract extension at last night’s Board of School Committee meeting.
According to both men, language agreeing that the city will pay the employer share of the retirement benefit cost imposed by the state of New Hampshire if the NH Retirement System disallows the current arrange as been authorized. Currently, the Board of School Committee is under going a phone poll to approve the new language so that the extension can move forward.
In a related development, Gatsas confirmed that there was, in fact, a consensus of the school board in favor of the contract extension at last night’s meeting. He’s hopeful that, at a minimum, the majority that voted in favor of the extension will support the change in language being polled by phone now.
A phone poll is a vote taken in limited instances on a specific question that has already been discussed by the board.
In response to our question, Mayor Gatsas emphatically denied that he had any knowledge of the legal glitch that sidetracked the contract discussions last night. “I heard about it last night,” said Gatsas. “Had I known that problem existed, it would’ve been fixed before we brought it forward. It’s peanuts (the cost of the fix) compared to the savings we gain for getting this contract approved. I’ll make that fix and take that deal all day long,” he said.
Gatsas’ statement on whether or not he knew of the legal issue prior to last night’s meeting essentially mirrored Dick’s statement last night. Girard at Large is awaiting a call from Superintendent Tom Brennan regarding what knowlege he had of the glitch prior to last night’s meeting. We will have more on this matter as details develop.
Both Dick and Gatsas expressed concern that last night’s drama and the uncertainty it caused may have a negative impact on the ratification vote scheduled by the union for today and tomorrow. And, both were realistic about the consequences if the vote failed. “To anyone out there who thinks this is a bad deal, what’s your alternative?” asked Gatsas. “If this doesn’t go through, we’ve got problems.”
Dick, in prior interviews, has called the deal “fair” to the membership and the “best that could be done under the circumstances.” He’s hopeful the membership will ratify the contract, though he’s concerned that this recent development will fuel the arguments of hardliners in the union who simply don’t trust the city. “I’ hoping there’s no damage done as a result of this,” he said. “Our options outside of this contract extension are not good.”
Girard at Large will continue to keep you up to date on developments as they unfold. Stay tuned!