Warwick Teachers Approve Contract
Last night, the Warwick Teacher’s Union overwhelmingly approved the contract that had been tentatively agreed upon by their negotiators and the Warwick School Committee. The School Committee will meet today at 4:15 PM to vote on final approval, which is fully expected. Because the teachers had been working without a contract for 3 years, this new contract is actually a 2-for-1. One covering the years 2003-2006, and the other for 2006-2009.
Here’s the breakdown in numbers, according to the ProJo’s sources. First, the “just expired” (never actually worked under) contract of 2003-2006:
2003-2004 : No retroactive pay, but a 1% “on paper” salary increase for the purpose of calculating future salaries.
2004-2005: “…teachers would receive 2-percent retroactive pay for the first half of the school year, and 1.5 percent for the second half. That money would not be paid, however, until Sept. 1, 2007.”
2005-2006: same as 2004-2005, with money paid on Sept. 1, 2008.
By delaying payments for the retroactive pay, it is hpoed that the City of Warwick will be better able to plan and budget for school expenditures in the future, thus alleviating the need for a big, one-time cash hit.
The retroactive pay is a hard pill to swallow for many. During the contract strife of the last three years, the teachers were engaged in an unofficial “work-to-rule” policy, which included no teacher participation in open houses, no field trips, scaled back extracurriculars, etc. Thus, they did less work than they supposedly would have done if working under a contract. Now, despite that, they have been rewarded with retroactive pay–albeit less than they would have normally wanted, I suppose–as if they had continued to work normally. This should be remembered the next time there is a Warwick Teachers’ contract dispute. No retroactive pay if work to rule is instituted.
The new contract (2006-2009) offers pay raises and a first time requirement for teachers to participate in paying for their own medical care. However, as has often been the case in other recent new teacher contracts (North Kingstown, Cranston), the pay increases easily offset any new medical co-pays and premiums. Nonetheless, the philosophical victory of getting teachers to agree to share the burden of paying some of their own medical expenses is a definite gain.
For the 2006-2007 school year, beginning Aug. 31, teachers would receive a 2-percent salary increase in the first half of the year, and an additional 2 percent in the second half.
In the 2007-2008 school year, teachers would receive a 3-percent salary increase, and in the 2008-2009 year, they would receive 3.5 percent…
For the first time, teachers would pay a percentage of their health-care costs. Teachers would pay a flat fee, as Warwick’s other municipal employee unions do, of $11 a week, or $572 annually, and the payment begins this school year.
Retirees under the age of 65 would also now contribute to the cost of their health care. Retirees over 65 are not covered by the city.
Emergency-room visit co-pays would be increased from $25 to $100, and prescription co-pays would be increased from the current $5 to a staggered $7-$25-$40 co-pay, depending on whether the drug is generic or name-brand.
My kids began going to school during this contract dispute and have only known a “work-to-rule” environment. It will be interesting to see the difference in a school environment full of teachers working under contract. I’m glad it’s over.