Teacher's union responds to Herbst

To the Editor:

The Trumbull Educators Association (TEA) was shocked to read First Selectman Herbst’s note of advice for our union and membership that appeared in this week’s online Trumbull Times. Mr. Herbst demonstrates incredible ignorance of the meaning of “good faith.”In the First Selectman’s view, “good faith” is displayed by painting an overly rosy, if not false view of the state’s Partnership 2.0 insurance plan.

While it is true that there are some benefits (lower co­pays and premiums), those are more than likely transitory. And there are legitimate concerns with coverage. The state’s plan includes a far smaller pool of doctors (86.5% versus Herbst’s 97%), has limited coverage for mental health and addiction services. In addition, the state plan includes a new “wellness plan” and a host of prior authorization requirements for certain procedures and medications.

All of these changes are new, and are not equivalent to the contracted insurance that we negotiated in good faith three years ago.

Second, Mr. Herbst’s version of “good faith” entails tearing down the union and its process. In his view, there are “a select few...seeking to sabotage and overrule a silent majority.”

He does not understand that the TEA leadership does not act unilaterally. The TEA values information, empowerment, and deliberation: not obfuscation and force. The TEA has done their homework, and it is our position that the new insurance constitutes a substantive change in our collectively bargained insurance agreements. As such, if it is to be imposed, negotiations for compensation must be held. Is this what he means by “sabotage and overrule?"

Finally, Mr. Herbst’s vision of “good faith” includes threats of budget cuts and more. He has threatened massive cuts in the education budget to offset the potential fallout from this man­made crisis. Threatening to cut the teachers and supplies that our children need to succeed is not “good faith.” Nor was good faith demonstrated when, earlier this week, Mr. Herbst filed a Freedom of Information request to read through the emails of TEA Executive Board members.

The TEA does not wish to obstruct. We simply wish to uphold the contract. We intend to negotiate a resolution with the Board of Education by actual standards of good faith. We look forward to completing this process in a timely manner so that we can return our focus to the students, where it belongs.
TEA Executive Board