Volume XXXXI, No.1 September 2, 2003


By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld

    It hardly seems possible that itís time for school again. Management must be doing something to shorten the summers, but I havenít been able to figure out how they are doing it.

     This year the focus of our union will have to be on negotiating a new contract, the Board of Education having been unwilling to roll over the existing contract for another year or so.

     We will approach the negotiations process as we always do by involving the membership from the beginning in the formulation of our demands. SRC Reps will be distributing Demand Questionnaires early in the year. We have already set Wednesday, January 7, 2004 as the date of our General Membership Meeting to ratify our package of demands. Arrangements have been made so that there are no staff development activities or other meetings on this day so that all PCT members can attend this very important meeting.

     This yearís negotiations pose a special challenge to us. A very significant portion of our membership has not been through the process before. This fact challenges all of us to not take for granted that these members understand all that will be happening throughout the process. More experienced members will need to assume responsibility for these newer members so they feel comfortable that they understand the things that happen when the Board and PCT sit down to negotiate.

     While we will be absorbed with negotiating a new contract, that does not mean that we can forget about all of the other things we do. We will still have to find the time to continue all of the important work we do to shape our work-lives in the Plainview schools.

     We will be aided in doing this work by having Judi Alexanderson available to us during the school day. In addition to her other duties, the PCT Executive Board has made Judi the Assistant to the President. She will be available to attend morning SRC meetings and to provide other services to the organization that we have been unable to accomplish before. Just to have her indomitable spirit circulating through our buildings more regularly will be a significant improvement to the operation of our union.

     I wish you a fabulous year of interesting and rewarding work. I hope, too, that you will join with me and the other leaders of our union in working to make the PCT even better and stronger than it already is.


    October 2, 2003 is an important day in the life of the PCT membership. That is the date for our annual party to honor our retirees from last June and to bid an official welcome to our newest members.

    This yearís party will again be held at the Woodbury Country Club from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM. The cost of admission is a very reasonable $15. With this being a negotiating year, we all want to make this event the first demonstration of our solidarity.


    This fall, five experienced teachers have been paired with five new teachers in a pilot mentor/intern program negotiated between the district and the PCT. New teachers and their mentors will have common planning and lunch periods as well as substitute coverages that will permit them to observe each otherís classes.

     The PCT became interested in pushing an mentor/intern program based on its analysis of why some probationary teachers in the recent past did not succeed in getting tenure. Often in the view of the officers, some of these teachers made "mistakes" that grew out of their lack of awareness of the culture of the Plainview-Old Bethpage school district and community. In too many instances, the perception in the minds of many managers became that they werenít "a good fit" for POB. We know that frequently these teachers go to other districts, districts as competitive as ours, and they succeed. These facts motivated the officers of the PCT to advocate for a program that would coach new teachers to the special challenges of teaching in our district.

     Because of budget constraints, the district was only able to commit to five mentors this year. However, Central Administration and the PCT will be monitoring the program carefully with the goal of building a full-fledged mentor/intern program into the 2004-05 school budget.


    At 4:00 PM on September 22, the officers of the PCT will host a meeting for new teachers and clericals to the district at the PCT Office. For over ten years, we have been hosting this annual meeting that allows us to help new hires to put their Welfare Fund package of benefits in place and to hear of the many other benefits of PCT membership.

    On their being hired by the Board of Education, each new hire received a congratulatory letter from PCT President Morty Rosenfeld. Then on their first day on the job, each received a packet of materials from the PCT and Welfare Fund plus another welcoming letter. In this way, the PCT attempts to make settling in easier for the new people. It also helps to establish the centrality of PCT membership to oneís work-life in the district.

     The results of these efforts have been outstanding. While other local education unions experience problems attaining full membership participation, the PCT has had one hundred percent membership for the past twenty years.


    PCT members are reminded that if they completed sufficient course work over the summer to advance a lane or more on the salary schedule, they need to inform Dr. Greenbergís office before September 10, 2003. So long as this notification is made, payment on the new lane is assured as soon as the official university transcript is received by the district.

     403b CHANGES

     PCT members wishing to start a 403b account or change their contributions to existing accounts (tax sheltered annuities) are reminded that they have until September 15, 2003. The next contractual deadline for changes is January 15, 2004.

    Members should further understand that recent changes in the tax code permit an increase in the yearly amount that may be contributed to an account. Effective for the 2004 tax year, contributions may be increased to $13,000 per year. The contribution limit will increase by $1000 each year through 2006.


     How do you measure commitment to an organization?

     Certainly, one index of the health of the PCT was the willingness of nineteen SRC Reps to attend a two day leadership training session during August. Presented by PCT President Morty Rosenfeld and Secretary and Grievance Chair Judi Alexanderson, the workshop focused on the qualities of good union leadership, the development of organizing skills and building a good labor/management relationship.

     Based on the success of the Leadership Workshop, the officers of the PCT will be talking to the Executive Board about other training possibilities during other vacation periods. Given the demographics of our current membership, many find it impossible to fit one more after-school activity into schedules that are already overwhelming.


    Shortly, members will receive a Contract Survey Form from PCT Secretary and Grievance Chair Judi Alexanderson. This form is one of the ways that the PCT seeks to determine if there are any violations of our contract with the district. A contract that isnít enforced isnít worth very much.

    When you receive your survey form, please take the time to fill it out carefully. When you have completed your contract survey, please return it promptly to the PCT Office or your building reps.


     The contract between the Teacher Unit of the PCT and the school district calls for new teachers to attend an orientation course of fifteen hours duration for which participants receive one in-service credit. The meeting dates for this yearís course are as follows: September 9,16,23,30, October 9,16,23 and 30.

     Teachers who are new to the district must attend these sessions. The course has been developed by the Staff Development Committee on which the PCT has three representatives. The course tries to help new teachers learn whoís who and whatís where thereby making their settling into a new job a little less frustrating.


     Changes in flex benefits deductions are made through the Business Office in November. It is not too soon, therefore, for members to start thinking of changes they may wish to make. Now is a good time to review medical expenses not covered by insurance which could be paid for with pre-tax dollars from oneís flexible medical spending account.

     The PCT Office recently became aware that quite a few members do not flex their family health insurance premiums, a terrible mistake in that paying them with pre-tax dollars reduces their net cost by as much as 28% depending on oneís tax bracket. It simply makes no sense to not flex these premiums.

JANUARY 7, 2004





return to pobct homepage