Whitehall-Coplay School Teachers Flood Board Meeting, Push for ‘Fair Contract’

September 8, 2014 – In The News
The Express-Times

Jeff Sultanik was quoted in the Express-Times article “Whitehall-Coplay School Teachers Flood Board Meeting, Push for ‘Fair Contract.’” While the full text can be found in the September 8, 2014, issue of The Express-Times, a synopsis is noted below.

Dozens of Whitehall-Coplay teachers flooded a recent board meeting to advocate for a fair contract.

Sultanik, who serves as board solicitor, said school directors are “mindful of where the Whitehall-Coplay teachers stand in relationship to other teachers in the Lehigh County area, in terms of compensation.”

“Very honestly, we could spend a lot of time talking about comparisons in compensation. It’s not that simplistic,” he said, explaining that other school districts calculate step movement differently than Whitehall-Coplay.

Unlike other school boards that have succumbed to the pressure of teachers unions, Whitehall-Coplay has avoided professional and nonprofessional staff layoffs and kept educational programs intact by reining in employee salaries, Sultanik said. “That’s as a result of careful fiscal planning and cooperation between the association and the board in terms of negotiating contracts,” he said.

Sultanik said school directors want a fair contract, as well, but are “concerned, based on reactions at the bargaining table, that we won’t be able to get there.”

He said the education association arrived at the bargaining table with expectations outside “the realm of reason.”

The board has invited teachers to another round of negotiations on September 30 and also supports bringing the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board in to prepare a fact finding report, Sultanik said. Whitehall-Coplay’s last three contracts have been negotiated with the assistance of a third-party, he said.