Re: Researching from Outside the Library

As a former member of the East Greenwich School Committee, I read Justin’s post about Pat Crowley’s comments on the Burrillville teachers’ strike with a certain bemusement.
Justin touches on one of the really big issues about RI teachers’ union contract negotiations: It is my experience that it was the teachers’ union who demanded that the negotiations be conducted in private with no taxpayer visibility to their contract demands and the ongoing status of negotiations. All while many union members – teachers, primarily – whined publicly about how they were being treated unfairly.
Things will only change – and the Pat Crowley’s of this world will only have credibility – when the contract demands are made public to the people who pay their salaries and benefits.
It is only with greater visibility that the hidden secrets of these union contracts will seep into the public’s consciousness. For example, I was the person in Rhode Island who blew the extreme (9-12%/year) salary increases buried in contractual step increases into the public domain with this 2004 ProJo editorial.
While the particular issues will vary somewhat by district, here are excerpts from a 2005 post about the tactics used by the teachers’ union to accomplish its contractual goals in the East Greenwich negotiations.

The formal labor dispute between the residents of East Greenwich and the NEA teachers’ union is now over. However, the dispute showed the true colors of the union and many teachers. With the veneer stripped off, residents have learned many valuable lessons.
First and foremost, we learned – by their practice of work-to-rule – the union and numerous teachers were willing to use our children as pawns in an attempt to avoid a health insurance co-payment. They even had the audacity to say publicly that work-to-rule was not hurting our children.
Second, the union demanded to be made whole financially via full retroactive pay for last year even though our children’s educational experience could not be made whole – due to their work-to-rule actions.
Third, they confirmed how teachers-union contracts are the antithesis of good teaching practices when they stressed that work-to-rule was a contractual right – while at the same time protesting that they wanted us to treat them like professional workers. They stated publicly that before-school and after-school assistance was not part of their job description. They dared us to take them to court if we believed they were not working the legally proper hours.
Fourth, they insulted residents by claiming that a majority of us could afford to hire tutors for our children but have been receiving these services free from public school teachers for years. Teachers also claimed that they – not parents – were responsible for our town’s favorable test scores.
Fifth, they showed how they live in a make-believe world when they said that no one in the private sector works overtime without getting paid and, if they’re off the clock at 5 p.m., you can bet they’re out the door at 5. They also claimed more than 50% of residents earn at least $500,000.
Sixth, we also learned they would make verifiably misleading comments to get what they want, including: (i) Taxes in East Greenwich aren’t that high compared to other communities; (ii) Insurance co-payments would result in pay cuts to teachers; and, (iii) East Greenwich pays lower than other districts.
These are not honorable people. It is clear now that these union negotiations are nothing less than one big racket, rigged to yield financial gain to the union. They certainly are not for the benefit of our children or for excellence in education…
Unfortunately, work-to-rule and other management rights issues are specified in RI General Law, which means it is impossible to change these rules at the local level…

The 2005 post includes links to many other posts on those East Greenwich negotiations, RI public education and union issues, and broader public education issues. They can be found in the Extended Entry section below.

In a nutshell, here was what I thought the negotiating position of the East Greenwich School Committee should have been on some of the key financial terms of the contract.
Other postings include:
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
“Bargaining Rights are Civil Rights”
The NEA-Rhode Island’s Pathetic Attempts to Manipulate East Greenwich Residents
What’s Wrong With This Picture: 800 Applicants for 14 Teaching Jobs & the NEA Says There is a Problem
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.
Other editorials and postings include:
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
Are Teachers Fairly Compensated?
Warwick Teachers’ Union Throws Public Tantrum
Blocking More Charter Schools Means Hurting Our Children
RI Educational Establishment: Your Days of No Vigorous Public Oversight & No Accountability Are Ending
Two Local Examples Reinforce Why Today’s Public Education System Will Never Achieve Excellence
American education is failing to keep up with other countries around the world. This has long-term consequences for our country’s economic strength and our standard of living.
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?
Now Here is a Good Idea
Milton Friedman on School Choice
Issuing a Call for a Higher Quality Public Debate About Education
Is Merit Pay for Teachers a ‘Crazy Idea’?
Reporting False Performance Data Under No Child Left Behind: Why Are We Surprised At Dishonest Behavior By The Educational Bureaucracy?
Lack of Merit Pay Reduces the Quality of Teachers & Our Schools
Will We Measure Educational Performance by Inputs or Outputs?
Paycheck Protection: Allowing You to Keep Your Own Hard-Earned Monies
“Shut Up & Teach”

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