“Bargaining Rights are Civil Rights”

I just received several telephone calls from some East Greenwich residents who were at one of the local schools, Hanaford Elementary School, today and saw that a number of teachers had placards on their cars that read:
“Bargaining Rights are Civil Rights”
Stop for a minute and ask yourself: What does that comment mean?

The placards make no sense because the teachers already have bargaining rights.
The placards make no sense in the bigger picture either. Martin Luther King, Jr. led one of the great moral causes of our lifetime, fighting so blacks could be free from lynching, other forms of murder, cross burnings, and water hoses as well as have the ability to vote and use the same parts of restaurants, buses, and bathrooms as other Americans. In other words, King led the fight to ensure blacks were no longer denied the freedoms that all Americans were entitled to as citizens of this country. These placards are an insult to all those freedom fighters, some of whom lost their lives in that struggle for freedom.

So what is the point of these silly placards? I would suggest that what they are doing is protesting that there is resistance in the community to caving into their unions’ demands. Resistance such as saying “no more” to a continuing zero co-payment on health insurance premiums. The placards are really just a sign of how frustrated the union and teachers are because they are not getting their way. Isn’t that too bad.
Here is some additional perspective that shows how stupid the placards are:

The East Greenwich teachers are well paid among all teachers in the 36 school districts of Rhode Island, with the job step 10 salary being the 7th highest and job step 5 being the 9th highest. All in a state that already has the 7th highest paid teachers among the 50 states. Some civil rights problem!
Furthermore, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average Rhode Island teacher’s salary is 1.6 times higher than the average private sector employee’s salary in Rhode Island – the highest multiple in all 50 states. Not bad for a 180-day work year, which no one in the private sector enjoys. Some civil rights problem!
The East Greenwich teachers – in 9 of the 10 job steps – have received 9-12% annual salary increases for each of the last 5 years, unlike the residents of East Greenwich who pay their salaries and benefits. Some civil rights problem!
The East Greenwich teachers have a zero co-payment on their health insurance premiums, unlike the residents of East Greenwich who pay their salaries and benefits. Some civil rights problem!
The East Greenwich teachers receive a $6,800 annual cash bonus when they don’t use the health insurance policy of the school district, unlike the residents of East Greenwich who pay their salaries and benefits. Some civil rights problem!
All Rhode Island teachers can retire as early as age 50 and immediately begin receiving a lifetime pension equal to 60% of their final salary, unlike the residents of East Greenwich who pay their salaries and benefits. Some civil rights problem!

Who, if anyone, has a claim to experiencing a violation of their civil rights? It is, of course, the residents of East Greenwich. More specifically:

How about the civil rights of the nearly 13,000 residents of East Greenwich, a majority of whom want to be liberated from the grip of a teachers’ union that believes it is their right to legally extort the residents’ hard earned monies via outrageous financial terms of the next teachers’ union contract? How about the civil rights of these residents who see their standard of living decrease every time the union contract terms make their taxes increase faster than their incomes?
How about the civil rights of over 2,000 children in the East Greenwich school system who are suffering at the hands of these teachers due to ridiculous “work-to-rule” terms which only exist because of the horrific lack of management rights given to the school leadership, another legacy of teachers’ union contracts?

There is one simple take-away message to those placard-waving teachers from all of the residents of East Greenwich: Take your silly, stupid placards home and join the real world where the rest of us live, the people who pay for your salaries and benefits. It is all we ask.

In a nutshell, here is what I think the negotiating position of the East Greenwich School Committee should be on some of the key financial terms of the contract.
In addition to financial issues, management rights are the other big teachers’ union contract issue. “Work-to-rule” or “contract compliance” only can become an issue because of how management rights are defined in union contracts. The best reading on this subject is the recent report by The Education Partnership. It is must reading.
East Greenwich NEA teachers’ union contract negotiations
More Background Information on the East Greenwich NEA Labor Dispute
The NEA’s Disinformation Campaign
East Greenwich Salary & Benefits Data
More Bad Faith Behavior by the NEA
The Debate About Retroactive Pay
Would You Hurt Our Children Just To Win Better Contract Terms?
The Question Remains Open & Unanswered: Are We/They Doing Right By Our Children?
Will The East Greenwich Teachers’ Union Stop Their Attempts to Legally Extort Residents?
You Have To Read This Posting To Believe It! The Delusional World of the NEA Teachers’ Union
So What Else is New? Teachers’ Union Continues Non-Productive Behaviors in East Greenwich Labor Talks
Other Rhode Island public education/union issues
ProJo editorial: Derailing the R.I. gravy train
ProJo editorial: RI public unions work to reduce your family’s quality of life
ProJo editorial: Breaking the taxpayer: How R.I. teachers get 12% pay hikes
Selfish Focus of Teachers Unions: Everything But What Is Good For Our Kids
Tom Coyne – RI Schools: Big Bucks Have Not Brought Good Results
The NEA: There They Go, Again!
A Response: Why Teachers’ Unions (Not Teachers!) Are Bad For Education
“A Girl From The Projects” Gets an Opportunity to Live the American Dream
Doing Right By Our Children in Public Education Requires Thinking Outside The Box
Debating Rhode Island Public Education Issues
The Cocoon in which Entitled State Employees Live
Broader public education issues
The Deep Performance Problems with American Public Education
Freedom, Hard Work & Quality Education: Making The American Dream Possible For ALL Americans
Parents or Government/Unions: Who Should Control Our Children’s Educational Decisions?

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