When the going gets tough according to Peter Gallanter (letters 8/23), workers can "wait things out or start a job search." He then offers the opinion that teachers in Port Washington who demand a contract settlement should compare their working conditions to "other school districts and...the private sector."
If the attitude in Mr. Gallanter's letter represents a majority opinion among Port Washington's taxpayers then we are, indeed, in a new era of negotiations. The expressed view is not too much different from "Port teacher's are crybabies, not worth the money they receive and can take it or leave it as far as contract negotiations are concerned."
Look more carefully, please, before concluding that conditions in Port Washington are ideal for teachers. On the one hand, the salary scale in Port is generous but not the highest among rival districts. On the other hand, the board has come to the bargaining table at the last minute with a package of onerous proposals for longer hours and fewer perks.
Wonderful Mr. Gallanter! Let us make it tougher for teachers to do the job, and let us avoid giving them a raise. In time, costs of education will be reduced in Port Washington. You will also, in time, have the level of teaching competence that you were willing to pay for.
Look around: Some teachers in Port Washington are seeking elsewhere. Are there more than a few experienced, talented individuals gone from the ranks? Are you even aware of the young, tenured teachers who have begun to look elsewhere in hopes of finding professional pay levels in an environment that puts competence and professionalism before cost cutting and carping?
You need not worry about filling the slots of those teachers who might be driven away by increasingly hostile attitudes toward negotiated professional salaries and working conditions. You will find candidates from the ranks of those willing to work for what you are willing to offer.
But if what you offer in negotiations is a sneering attitude, a hired-gun negotiator, and proposals for markedly worse working conditions, then you must expect that the professional teachers now on board will not be yours forever. Call me when the replacements start to get on your nerves. Perhaps, then, the negotiating will be more timely and less backhanded.
But that will take years, Mr. Gallanter. By then, you and I might not be around to write letters to the newspaper. The process of deterioration started years ago when negotiations turned from professional sparring and compromise to brinkmanship and "give back" mentality. The attitude expressed in your letter, if adopted widely, can only accelerate a trend that will destroy the professionalism of the school district and make no taxpayer happy in the long run.
PW teacher, retired