Over bargaining? What didn’t we get?


So, this happens.

I was at a social event and a fellow state retiree introduced me to an old friend of his that he went to school with on the North Shore, like fifty years ago.

A boarding school.

My friend is a bit of a provocateur, so he mentions my pension activism and that I was a teacher.

I shot him a look.

It seems that there are two things that everybody thinks they are experts on.

Teaching and pensions.

I taught for 30 years. So I actually know something about that. I write, research and organize around pension rights. So I actually know something about that.

Yet I seem to run into people who do neither, but tell me that they know way more than I do.

This is especially true about men who went to boarding school on the North Shore.

They know about these two things because, well, they went to school and the read Crain’s.

“The problem with pensions is that they were over bargained,” he explained knowingly to me.

“Over bargained?” That’s a new one.

Another thing I spent years doing is bargaining. I can remember every one of the dozen teacher contract negotiations I was involved in. So, I know something about bargaining too. I never heard of over bargaining.

This is what happens: We start at one place and through the process of collective bargaining, we give and get some things. The other side gives and gets some things. You keep up the process until each side can walk away satisfied. As a representative of the teachers I always tried to do better than we did last time.

But over bargained?

By this I assume that he thinks we got too much.

The other side always thinks that.


If our pension was over bargained and if bargaining means you give and you get, what didn’t we get?

In the middle of this conversation my mind starts wandering, thinking about what we gave and what we didn’t get.

The man from the North Shore was convinced we would never get our pension.

I told him we would.

He smiled that condescending North Shore smile.

We never got to the other subject he is an expert on.


5 Replies to “Over bargaining? What didn’t we get?”

  1. I’m sure many teachers can relate to having a “knowledgeable” friend like you have. They’re a funny breed – aren’t they? We should put them all into one giant think tank where they can cooperatively come up with solutions for ending world hunger, develop ways to create world peace, and find a cure for cancer. Let’s hope that while negotiating these monumental, planet-saving tasks, they don’t “over bargain”.

  2. You see this on the news talk shows all the time. People who claim to know all about teaching and contracts and pensions and pension pick-ups yet by their very words clearly show their ignorance to those of us who do know about these things. The truly knowledgeable are never on these shows so the general public is left with these ignorant ideas.

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