East Greenwich School Committee: Press Release & General Update

A late Wednesday night press release (a Word document) from the East Greenwich School Committee:

The East Greenwich School Committee is disappointed and frustrated that the East Greenwich teachers’ union has decided to continue their strike and refuse to return to school.
When the Committee asked the union to return to the classrooms while continuing to negotiate, they refused, leaving Superintendent Meyers no choice but to cancel school for yet another day. We are greatly concerned over the irreparable harm being done to our students and will seek relief from the court system to get the teachers back to school.
The Committee has continued to negotiate in good faith since February of this year. Our proposals have consistently been rejected by the teachers’ union and they have not offered any substantial compromise in return.
We have persisted in explaining to the union the very serious impact that the tax levy cap (SR 3050) without a viable funding formula will have on our budget over the next 6 years. We cannot act in a fiscally irresponsible manner nor will we run a deficit over the length of the contract. We had hoped that the teachers union would work with us and not against us under these circumstances.
The School Committee will continue to act in fairness and good faith with the teachers’ union and will endeavor to bring them back to the negotiating table. We will also continue to do what is in the best interests of our children and our community.

Related ProJo article here.
Events which occurred on Wednesday or are anticipated for Thursday include:

  • The School Committee and NEA negotiating teams met in conference with a Judge on Wednesday. There was no formal action which came from that meeting.
  • There is another meeting with the Judge on Thursday, at which time the School Committee will ask that the Judge issue an order requiring the teachers to return to the classrooms.
  • The entire School Committee, the NEA negotiating team, Jane Argenteri from NEARI and the mediator met from 5 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon until about 12:15 a.m. Thursday. Larry Purtell (NEARI President) and Roger Ferland (former head of NEA in East Greenwich) were “around” and joined their NEA colleagues in breakout sessions. No progress was made.
  • At the end of the meeting, the mediator said that there needed to be a cooling off period, they should all go think about the issues, and he did not want any further meetings before Friday, September 14.

Can you say….paradigm shift?? Stay tuned because it is time to think – and act – outside the conventional box.
Anchor Rising is the place to go for information on the teachers’ strikes issues in Rhode Island. To get up to speed, here are the links – in chronological order – to other Anchor Rising posts about the East Greenwich teachers’ strike and the NEA:
Saying “No” to Legalized Extortion
Education Partnership Reports: Learning a lot more about RI teachers’ union contracts
Reflecting on Labor Unions on Labor Day
Update on the East Greenwich Teachers’ Contract & Suggested Future Actions
Breaking News on Anchor Rising: East Greenwich Teachers to Strike on Tuesday
More on the Issues in the East Greenwich Teachers’ Union Strike (This is a particularly important post on the substantive issues in dispute.)
The NEA’s Latest Disinformation Campaign in East Greenwich
Sometimes What is Old is New: Misguided Incentives Drive Public Sector Taxation
Other relevant posts on Anchor Rising include:
Burrillville Teachers to Students: Let the Pawns Skip School
Crowley, You Charmer
Researching from Outside the Library
Children Are Their Life? No, Children Are Their Leverage.
Citizen Context for Negotiations
One Side of the Phone Conversation
My Favorite Samuel Gompers Quote
The Guidebook to Public-Abuse
Not Quite Breaking (Except of Taxpayers’ Backs)
The Other Side of the Conversation in Tiverton
The Rhode Island Right’s Bizarro Politics
A Case of Crossed Hands
Best We Can Do Is Get Involved Every Time
(The last two posts in this section address the important questions of (i) what RI law and court decisions say about teachers’ strikes; and, (ii) the level funding of education and tax cap issues.)

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SusanD
SusanD
13 years ago

“At the end of the meeting, the mediator said that there needed to be a cooling off period, they should all go think about the issues, and he did not want any further meetings before Friday, September 14.”
Did he actually say that? And there’s no guarantee they’ll reach an agreement on Sept 14.
At what point are high school seniors affected by a prolonged delay? Or is the mediator that confident that a judge will promptly order teachers back to the classroom?

Donald B. Hawthorne
Donald B. Hawthorne
13 years ago

SusanD:
Yes, I was personally told that the mediator said those words.
It is already documented this year and back in 2004-2005 that the NEA will tell lies to parents and other interested parties as part of its disinformation campaign.
The School Committee wants people to know about the mediator’s statement so no disinformation campaign story goes out which promotes the idea that a lack of meetings in the next week is due to the School Committee being unwilling to meet.
It is possible for the Judge to order teachers back to work when they meet today.

John
John
13 years ago

Don,
the people of EG, and RI for that matter, are lucky to have someone like you on the case.
I hope the EG SC doesn’t cave!
As a resident of Coventry, which has teachers making and average of 75K, with some as high as $90K, and a median houshold income in the low 40’s, I wish we had a SC that had a clue.

John
John
13 years ago

Don,
A question: why doesn’t the EG SC just fire the teachers, and hire new ones? Seems like going to court, having a judge order them back to work, and then watching them work to rule all year until their demands are met is a movie we’ve all seen before.
Is it because, like every other SC in RI, the EG SC is filled with people who are married to teachers, related to teachers, have or are public sector union employees, own companies with state contracts, and the rest of the usual excuses for not rocking the boat (even as it sinks) in RI?

Frank
Frank
13 years ago

I hope the people of East Greenwich realize how fortunate they are, they have a school committee that understands their role. Their school committee is standing firm in trying to represent the needs of the town, the citizens, and the schoolchildren against the interests of the teacher’s union. The people of E.G. need to see through the NEA spin and appreciate what their school committee is trying to accomplish. They are taking on the extremely difficult task of standing up to this goliath of a union that cares nothing about their children or their taxpayers.
>> As a resident of Coventry, which has teachers making and average of 75K, with some as high as $90K, and a median houshold income in the low 40’s, I wish we had a SC that had a clue.
Coventry is a joke. They have school committees that continue to think that it is their job to represent the teachers! It’s no wonder that there are never any contract disputes in that town, they give the teacher unions everything they want. And when Coventry, despite having the highest property taxes in the state (along with the highest paid teachers) goes bankrupt in 2 or 3 years the teachers should be first in line to thank.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

It’s usually advisable to look for the hidden agenda of anything done by the powers that be in this state, particularly when, on the surface, it goes against character. In this case, the Paiva-Weed property tax increase caps (note that this year property taxes are still allowed to increase above the rate of inflation – 5.25% this year, if memory serves – which gives an indicator of how much the teachers unions are really demanding if there “isn’t enough money” this year). Anyway, we have a Democrat General Assembly standing at the precipice of the fiscal abyss of flat-lining tax revenues; tobacco money all p***ed away; casino shot down (at least for a while) and thousands of baby boomer state retirees / teachers on the cusp of drawing upon the pension plan that is almost $5 BILLION short … and this doesn’t include the unfunded liability for the retiree healthcare benefits that have been promised, which is probably an even bigger number. Nickel and dime things, such as taxes on cable bills, won’t do it. In their eyes, they need a large and broad-based tax to keep the Democrat machine fueled. So it wouldn’t be surprising if the Democrat leadership has been having conversations along the following lines: “Income tax? Done that.” “Sales tax? Done that.” “Lottery / gambling? Done that.” “Statewide property tax? Hmmmm, now you’re talking. But how do we get the public to accept it? Especially the seniors?” “Let’s make things so bad with teacher strikes and Caruolo suits that the public will acquiesce along the lines of ‘something must be done, we can’t keep going this way’ … and then dangle the prospect of our ‘solution’ being more ‘state aid to education,’ which we ‘sell’ as ‘lowering property taxes’ thanks to the ‘savings’ from consolidation coupled… Read more »

WJF
WJF
13 years ago

Tom W, paints an interesting scenario. Now let’s remember that there are 16 more contracts coming due next year – just before the election. That looks to me like a power-move situation, exactly what Tom W described.
All of this attention to teacher contracts is well earned, but let’s not forget the support personnel. There are a few districts with overdue contracts for them too.
I’m currently involved in one of those negotiations at Chariho, so I can’t divulge too much information due to the cloak of silence draped over these discussions (closed meetings are something I do not support, but since I can’t yet divulge what happened during the vote, all I can say is the meetings are closed).
But I can divulge what happens before and after the closed meetings. One second before the meeting and one second afterwards, the NEA rep had on a button that said, “I don’t want to strike, but I will if I have to.”
Notice to NEA – I don’t take kindly to threats. If you want to be treated like professionals, act like professionals. Accept performance evaluations as a means to determine compensation (just like real professionals) and accept the fact that you are no different than the people who are paying for your generous salaries – your health care (and co-pays) and pensions should be no different either.

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