Not Quite Breaking (Except of Taxpayers’ Backs)
All indications are that Tiverton’s teachers will be striking tomorrow. This bit from the Providence Journal adds a little bit of flesh (although not much) to the rumors floating among parents in town:
The Tiverton School Committee and the union representing town teachers appear headed for a confrontation tomorrow, when the schools are scheduled to open, after contract talks broke down yesterday and the union notified the superintendent of schools that teachers will not report for work.
“A job action will start Tuesday morning,” said Patrick Crowley, of the National Education Association Rhode Island.
The School Committee issued a news release in which it insisted the schools would open on time. The committee added what seemed to be a strange comment. The panel, referring to itself in the third person, said, “However, they caution parents to have a plan in place in case the teachers decide to illegally strike, especially in light of last Wednesday’s attempted abduction of a middle school student from a bus stop.” …
The School Committee’s release said that the panel had authorized its lawyer, Stephen Robinson, “to take all legal action necessary to stop an illegal strike should it be called, as well as to stop any other job action, such as a work stoppage.”
The committee said that the union had “failed to provide a salary and health care proposal” at yesterday’s curtailed talks.
My two cents as a Tiverton parent and taxpayer continues to be that the school committee should pen the want ad and prepare the emergency certification paperwork.
Not surprisingly, a more local media source has more current information:
Tiverton’s estimated 205 teachers will go on strike Tuesday morning, Sept. 4, and not show up for work, said Amy Mullen, lead negotiator for the teachers’ union and the president of NEA-Tiverton, an affiliate of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Education Association.
Picket lines, she said, will be up Tuesday at the intersection of North Brayton and Bulgarmarsh roads from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. and from 4 to 6 p.m. Under normal conditions, about 1,080 students, almost half of Tiverton’s total student body of 2,140 students, pass through the intersection.
School committee vice chairman Michael Burk confirmed the all-school closure Tuesday for all of Tiverton’s students. “We are cancelling school for students but expecting all staff to show for work,” he said.
He said the school committee attorney has been authorized to take legal action against the teachers if they do strike as expected. He said a temporary restraining order compelling the teachers to return to work would be sought.
And get this bit of audacity:
Finally, Monday afternoon the teachers made a counter offer reducing their salary demand from 4 percent to 3.75 percent for each of the three years, and scuttling their high deductible health care proposal in favor of reverting to a variant of the traditional plan. Around 6 p.m. the school committee asked for more time to consider the proposal and “crunch the numbers,” but by then time had run out.
The salary steps have increased 3% for each of the past four years, and this year, amidst a fiscal crisis, with worsening financial circumstances for the citizens in general and flat funding from the state, the union wants more? Sounds to me like the school committee should be less concerned with crunching numbers and more concerned with starting from scratch. Here’s the updated version of the table that I posted yesterday:
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