From the Kenosha News, Saturday, April 15, 2006-
Teachers in the Kenosha Unified School District will come to decisions on an insurance plan in their own time, according to a union official, and do not appreciate the implication that their decisions could be grounds for directing layoffs in their direction.
On April 25, the teacher members of the Kenosha Education Association will vote on whether to stick with their health coverage, provided by WEA Trust, or switch to another plan starting in the 2006-07 school year, offered by United Health care for nearly $7 million less.
Until then, said Bob Baxter, executive director of the KEA, the union would continue a "comprehensive, deliberate and systematic review" of the coverage offered by the two plans.
"In our opinion we have not unnecessarily delayed this process and are moving forward in the decision-making process", Baxter said. "The KEA believes it's members deserve to have all of their questions answered before a vote is taken on this very important measure."
On Wednesday, Unified officials sent layoff notices to 142 employees, 57 teachers and 85 educational assistants.
Quite frankly, I don't care if the KEA union officials are offended. Here is a list of people that have every right to be offended:
1. KEA teachers and educational assistants- these people have bared the brunt of the KEA's failure. The KEA has had since the beginning of the school year to evaluate the insurance plans. They have months and months to answer every single members questions. Yet, last week, 58 teachers and 85 assistants lost their jobs because the union leaders dragged their heels for months and months. The teachers pay for the union to look out for their best interests and the union forgot to take care of them. I wonder if 142 former employees of Kenosha Unified are sitting at home tonight wondering why they paid union dues all year long, especially now that their union failed them.
2. Kenosha Unified students- have every right to wonder why their teachers will not be coming back next year. They can even wonder why there are even more kids packed into their already full classrooms next year and they do not get the time and attention that they deserve. Every child deserves a great education, and yet, some of their teachers were just laid off.
3. Taxpayers- have every right to be offended by the KEA slow action. It is our tax dollars that pays for this insurance. The taxpayer has every right to demand action on their money. It is the taxpayer's children that go to schools, that are already packed full. It will be the taxpayer's money that will fix the $9 million deficit, no matter which direction the vote may go.
In one single vote, the teachers can save $7 million and they will not have to sacrifice anything. In fact, by the end of the 2007-08 school year, the deficit will be gone. In one single vote, the teachers can protect their fellow teachers and their own students. The time for the vote was 3 months ago, before 142 employees lost their jobs.
Why in the world would the KEA postpone a vote, knowing that the school year is coming to an end and next year's budget is already in the works? The KEA has had this proposal for months and months and yet they have not acted. They certainly did not bother to protect their own teachers, the students or even the taxpayers of Kenosha.
What would be really interesting to find out is- Who is the KEA protecting? WEA Trust? WEAC?