East Greenwich Teachers’ Union Contract Negotiations Update

The East Greenwich School Committee met with the mediator and NEA union negotiators last night for over 7 hours. No progress occurred.
Here is the Word document-based press release they issued today.
This was the first time I have been disappointed in the public statements of the School Committee. If I was on the School Committee, here is what my press release would have said instead:

The School Committee and the teachers’ union met with a mediator for over 7 hours last evening, September 14, 2007. No progress was made. In fact, the School Committee members sat for close to 3 hours waiting for a counter-proposal from the NEA. When the counter was finally received, there was essentially no change from their original proposal. Later in the session, the union negotiators refused to consider any cost-saving measures, such as a change in the healthcare provider.
This behavior is the norm for NEA negotiators as they try to induce citizen committee members to negotiate against themselves – and then allege bad faith negotiating practices when they do not do so.
Therefore, the teachers’ union continues to demand status-quo contract terms: (i) health insurance co-payment percentages at or below the current 5%/10% levels; (ii) no change in the $5,000/year cash bonus for not using the district’s insurance programs; (iii) 9-12%/year salary increases for job steps 1-9; and, (iv) at least 3%/year increases for job step 10. Pension benefits would also remain unchanged.
These demands, as in past negotiations, have resulted in school spending – and therefore taxes – rising faster than the increases in the incomes of the working families and retirees who reside in East Greenwich and pay for the teachers’ salaries and benefits out of their incomes. This longstanding practice reduces the standard of living of the residents. As such, they cannot afford for the school department to continue these reckless spending habits from the past and the recent state legislation now requires us to cease these bad habits.
The School Committee is faced with the following choice, just like every family who has to live within its means: Either teachers’ salary and benefit costs are going to be reined in or educational programs and teachers’ jobs will have to be cut. We cannot afford to continue the gravy train ride of past years.
The School Committee strongly prefers the former alternative, which will allow the district to maintain academic and extra-curricular educational programs and teachers’ jobs that make a difference to our children’s education. The union negotiating position advocates the latter position, which only serves to provide ever greater adult entitlements, even at the expense of what benefits our children and at the potential cost of their own member’s individual jobs.
A statewide educational funding formula will likely not solve this impasse. The NEA appears to believe that any increased state funding will automatically flow directly to maintaining the unaffordable large salary increases and outrageous benefits that exist today. That simply cannot happen any more and this School Committee will not agree to such a course of action.
The mediator did not schedule our next meeting until October 9th. It is also our understanding that the state union representative is out of town until that time.
The School Committee has received many inquiries from parents about teachers initiating “work-to-rule” actions, specifically some teachers are refusing to write recommendations for seniors applying to college. It is our understanding that the teachers’ union has not called “work-to-rule” action. We expect all teachers to perform their duties as they have done in a non work-to-rule environment. If we find that any rogue teachers are acting in ways which are harmful to our children, swift disciplinary action will be taken with those individual teachers. We encourage any parent of a student who is negatively impacted by work-to-rule type actions to immediately bring the issue to the attention of the school principal, the Superintendent or a School Committee member.

One of the key takeaways here: The NEA’s negotiating position means that they are willing to throw some of their own members under the bus and let them lose their jobs before they will bend on modifying contractually-defined adult entitlements.
Told you we would learn a lot about the priorities and values of the various stakeholders as these negotiations unfold. Yes, indeed.
Remember: Anchor Rising is THE place to go for information on the teachers’ strike and contract issues in Rhode Island. See the Extended Entry for all relevant links.

To get up to speed, here are the links – in chronological order – to all 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 (The reports linked to in this post make an important contribution to understanding how teachers’ union contracts are about adult entitlements, not the education of our children.)
Reflecting on Labor Unions on Labor Day (This is a particularly important post for understanding the NEA’s political agenda and financial resources.)
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 in East Greenwich.)
The NEA’s Latest Disinformation Campaign in East Greenwich
Sometimes What is Old is New: Misguided Incentives Drive Public Sector Taxation
East Greenwich School Committee: Press Release & General Update
Mr. Subliminal Must Have Written the EG Teachers “Open Letter”
The Continuing NEA Disinformation Campaign in East Greenwich: Lies, More Lies & Even Some Melodrama
News Flash: Judge Orders East Greenwich Teachers Back to Work on Friday, September 7
Another Lie by the NEA: East Greenwich Teachers Would Take Pay Cuts Under School Committee Proposals (This is an important post to read as it torpedoes another critical lie by the NEA.)
The NEA in East Greenwich: Reflections On The Week That Was (This post includes some important comments on the issues underlying the debate about the unresolved statewide education funding formula issue.)
The Two Alternatives Before Us: Educational Programs & Teacher Jobs OR Excessive Adult Entitlements
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 Continuing Saga of the Funding Formula Distraction — A Tale of Two Cities
(These three posts immediately above in this section address the important questions of (i) what RI law and court decisions say about teachers’ strikes; (ii) the tax cap and level funding of education; and, (iii) statewide education funding formula.)
This Is the Way the System Works, the System Works, the System Works
A Mere Suggestion for the Teachers’ Unions
Tiverton School Committee Shuffles Its Offer
Hold on, hold on. Keep the money coming!
These Are Professionals?
Other Public Education News
The Teachers’ Unions’ Lack of Moral Character

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Tom W
Tom W
16 years ago

>>One of the key takeaways here: The NEA’s negotiating position means that they are willing to throw some of their own members under the bus and let them lose their jobs before they will bend on modifying contractually-defined adult entitlements.
This is largely standard operating procedure for labor unions.
Let’s not forget that their mentality is to view the world through “seniority” glasses – take care of the most senior people first.
Then there is the self-interest of the union local negotiators, who themselves are typically more senior.
So they’ll throw junior members under the bus to save and/or increase their own pay, perks and benefits.
Look at the UAW for example: its excessive contracts (pay, work rules) are a major factor underlying the decline of what used to be called the “Big Three” automakers. Yet over the decades the union has negotiated more, more more … while its membership is now about one-third of its peak.
The (political) union leadership then touts the high pay in the contracts as evidence of what it is accomplishing with those dues the members pay … while those former workers thrown under the bus are not mentioned, and aren’t in the picture.
The UAW has now taken to trying to organize casino workers in order to replenish its ranks of members (and thus the dues stream supporting the union bosses) – rather than try to negotiate a competitive contract that would result in more automaker members being rehired, they’d rather keep the unsustainable pay and perks for the senior members, stand by and watch the slow decline, and throw their chips in with organizing other industries in which the workers are gullible.
Follow the money, err, dues … and the self-interest of the senior union leadership. That’s the true “negotiating position.”

Tom W
Tom W
16 years ago

By the way, the Center for Union Facts provides much information regarding the teachers unions (it’s where I first heard about the “rubber rooms”).
Here is a link to its blog page dedicated to teacher union subjects, followed by links to pages with specific information regarding NEA and AFT:

Tom W
Tom W
16 years ago

“A survey released earlier this year comparing the performance of American students to students in 29 other countries found that the performance of American students was ‘broadly unsatisfactory.’ Out of 29 countries participating in a 2003 OECD assessment, America’s 15-year-olds ranked 24th in math; 24th in problem-solving; 18th in science; and 15th in reading.”

Tom W
Tom W
16 years ago

And for you folks in East Greenwich, Barrington and Portsmouth that think you’re immune from teacher union mediocrity, the next paragraph of that article states:
“Lest anyone believe these results were skewed by the performance of a small number of struggling students, the test scores of the United States’ top students was equally poor when compared to the top students of other nations. America’s top math students rank 23rd out of 29 countries when compared with top students elsewhere in the world.”

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