Will The East Greenwich Teachers’ Union Stop Their Attempts to Legally Extort Residents?

One of our local newspapers, The North East Independent, weighed in this week with these editorial comments on the East Greenwich teachers’ union contract dispute:

East Greenwich teachers union officials apparently won’t budge on a request for a tiered system for health care co-pays, reasoning that teachers on low steps will not be able to afford co-pays as easily as top-step teachers. We say that’s bunk.
The union has rejected an offer that included raises of 3.5, 3.6 and 3.7 percent and a sharing of the health care premiums of 6, 8 and 10 percent over the three years of the contract.
Asking a teacher – a first-step teacher with only a bachelor’s degree in East Greenwich earns $32,137 – to pay between 6 and 10 percent of his or her co-pay over the next three years is far from unreasonable. Private sector employees who earn far less often pay a higher percentage of their health care costs – as much as 40 to 50 percent. It’s time for educational professionals to ante up.
East Greenwich’s principals, perhaps fed up with waiting for the teachers contract to which their raises and benefits are tied, agreed to terms the teachers themselves rejected…
Union officials countered by saying the principals make more money so they can afford to contribute to health insurance premium co-pays.
The union wants to link co-pays to a percentage of an employee’s salary, but we all know that insurance rates are volatile and double-digit increases are not uncommon. That scenario is a losing proposition for the district…
We hope teachers realize that many in the state around them don’t enjoy the same benefits they have for all of these years. The committee’s offer is a fair one, and the teachers should follow the principals’ example and accept the terms.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.
If anything, that previous School Committee offer was too generous, as I have noted elsewhere. [Remember, for example, that 3.5-3.7% increases equate to 9-13% total annual salary increases for 9 of the 10 job steps] But the offer was quite effective in one very important way: It smoked out the true intentions of the teachers’ union and showed how greedy they are and how little they care about well being of our children and our town residents.
Let that be a lesson to all of us.
By the way, I have been told there are sixteen school districts in Rhode Island whose teachers’ union contracts expire this summer (Bristol/Warren, Central Falls, Cranston, Foster, Glocester, Jamestown, Johnston, Lincoln, Middletown, Newport, North Providence, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, Scituate, Smithfield, Tiverton) or fall (East Providence). You can bet they are watching what is happening in East Greenwich (and Warwick). This fight with the NEA teachers’ union in East Greenwich is a fight on behalf of people around the state. We have a moral obligation to lead firmly and strongly so we can make a meaningful difference here in Rhode Island.

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