UPDATED: Excuse me, but this is NOT how to win friends & influence people in East Greenwich
Are East Greenwich teachers being asked to take “pay cuts” by the School Committee? The NEA says yes but cannot and will not prove it. What follows below is an analysis which shows the “pay cut” claim is a lie and that can only mean the NEA is intentionally misleading East Greenwich residents.
In five previous and core blog posts, I have made my case about the various economic issues in the East Greenwich teachers’ union contract negotiations – including debunking the NEA’s quite public claim about “pay cuts” for teachers. You can find links to all five at the bottom of this post.
In aggregate, they represent a highly visible, public set of multiple analyses ready for anybody to critique. However, nobody at the NEA has offered any tangible criticisms of the analyses that withstand even just elementary scrutiny. The analyses were developed with publicly-available information provided to me by both school department and town officials. More on that below.
I have offered multiple times to post the NEA’s own analysis on Anchor Rising and let town residents compare the two. Let the two analyses withstand simultaneous public scrutiny and may the most accurate and precise analysis carry the day! I have even said I will publicly apologize if my analysis is proven inaccurate or wrong. Nonetheless, the NEA refuses to engage in a rational public discussion and offer its analysis to prove its “pay cut” claim. What are they afraid of?
In the end, this comes down to economic tradeoffs. How do we live within the budgets of the working families and retirees of East Greenwich while offering a reasonable total compensation package to the town’s teachers? The NEA’s actions thus far have shown how it doesn’t care about the family budgets of town residents and it is not interested in negotiating a reasonable package for teachers.
So let’s review some of the economics: For starters and to refresh your memory, look at this salary-only Excel spreadsheet for East Greenwich teachers with Masters (about 60% of the teachers in town). Perhaps the NEA can tell the residents of East Greenwich how one $1,675 salary increase for step 10 and other salary increases ranging between $4,080-7,224 for job steps 1-9 represent a “pay cut” for 2007-08. For the less analytically inclined, this analysis is actually far easier to grasp than a first glance might make you think:
- The far left columns present job steps 1-10 and their salaries from the last contract. No judgment required there, only enough skill to copy ten salary numbers off one of the exhibit pages to that old contract.
- Then the latest proposal by the East Greenwich School Committee included a 2.4% salary increase. So the 2007-08 numbers for job steps 1-10 are determined by the simple arithmetic of multiplying 2006-07 contractual numbers for each of the 10 steps by 1.024.
- Then recall that each job step 1-9 teacher moves 1 step higher in 2007-08, except for each job step 10 teacher who stays as a 10.
That’s it! No judgment calls required anywhere. No higher mathematics necessary either. Just all basic and verifiable facts. And there simply is NO “pay cut” anywhere to be found.
Net Changes in Total Cash Compensation
This is a new section as of September 24. It presents a more complete financial model showing net changes in total cash compensation for teachers in all 10 job steps.
To be complete though requires going beyond just salary and that means the next question which must be asked is: What happens to net changes in total cash compensation for teachers when the School Committee’s latest offer of 12%, 15% and 18% co-pays are introduced from 2007-08 through 2009-10, up from the current 5% (job steps 1-3) and 10% (job steps 4-10)? Still NO “pay cuts.”
Here are the data which support that claim:
This updated section of the post contains a new and second Excel spreadsheet which presents projected changes in net cash compensation for all 10 job steps for teachers with Master’s degrees based on the latest offer. Previously posted analyses on Anchor Rising showed only steps 5 and 10 as examples.
Not surprisingly, there are NO “pay cuts” anywhere to be found – even after deducting the incremental after-tax expense of a higher health insurance premium co-pay. (Bob Walsh of the NEA argued previously on Anchor Rising that there were “pay cuts” if the analysis was performed on the original School Committee offer. To address his concern, I ran the same analysis as here with those revised numbers and showed that his claim was false. It is documented in this earlier post.)
The bottom line is this: Even AFTER including the negative cash impact of higher co-pays as proposed by the School Committee beginning in 2007-08, Table VIII in the spreadsheet presents the net salary increases – in $ and % – as realized by teachers over the 3 years of a proposed contract, assuming the latest School Committee offer:
- Job step 1 with family health coverage: $3,395-3,755/year or 7.5-8.1%/year increases.
- Job step 1 with single health coverage: $3,823-4,065/year or 8.1-9.1%/year increases.
- Job step 2 with family health coverage: $3,506-3,824/year or 7.1-7.8%/year increases.
- Job step 2 with single health coverage: $3,934-4,134/year or 7.7-8.7%/year increases.
- Job step 3 with family health coverage: $3,580-3,885/year or 6.8-7.4%/year increases.
- Job step 3 with single health coverage: $4,008-4,195/year or 7.4-8.3%/year increases.
- Job step 4 with family health coverage: $3,659-3,952/year or 6.5-7.1%/year increases.
- Job step 4 with single health coverage: $4,088-4,262/year or 7.1-7.9%/year increases.
- Job step 5 with family health coverage: $3,939-4,190/year or 6.3-7.6%/year increases.
- Job step 5 with single health coverage: $4,203-4,340/year or 6.8-7.9%/year increases.
- Job step 6 with family health coverage: $4,003-5,465/year or 6.4-8.0%/year increases.
- Job step 6 with single health coverage: $4,267-5,775/year or 6.8-8.4%/year increases.
- Job step 7 with family health coverage: $4,341-6,750/year or 7.1-9.1%/year increases.
- Job step 7 with single health coverage: $4,491-7,060/year or 7.3-9.5%/year increases.
- Job step 8 with family health coverage: $954-6,682/year or 1.3-9.2%/year increases.
- Job step 8 with single health coverage: $1,264-6,947/year or 1.7-9.5%/year increases.
- Job step 9 with family health coverage: $954-6,998/year or 1.3-9.8%/year increases.
- Job step 9 with single health coverage: $1,264-7,148/year or 1.7-10.0%/year increases.
- Job step 10 with family health coverage: $954-1,449/year or 1.3-2.0%/year increases.
- Job step 10 with single health coverage: $1,264-1,599/year or 1.7-2.2%/year increases.
So take a deep breath after reviewing these numbers and ask yourself: How could the NEA tell the residents of East Greenwich that the School Committee is trying to force teachers to take “pay cuts?” It is a grossly dishonest claim and the NEA should be ashamed of themselves.
A few observations: There are some very hefty salary increases in those numbers. They help to clarify why some of us believe strongly that the School Committee should be making no offers with co-pay percentages below 20% in any of the three years. Even with that higher co-pay assumption, re-running the model shows there are simply NO “pay cuts.” The magnitude of these salary increases also points out why there are some fundamental structural problems with the existing job step format on which salary schedules are based.
This second spreadsheet is an indepth analysis and will take careful reading. But, with some concentration, it is possible to follow the logic in it as I have tried to explicitly identify all major assumptions and data sources on a step-by-step basis. After which, I believe people can only conclude both that there are no “pay cuts” and that there are too many rich salary increases spread across these job steps.
(Thanks again to the East Greenwich School Department which provided me with publicly-available information upon my request.)
The NEA Engages in Personal Name-Calling Instead of an Open Public Debate Based on Facts
Meanwhile, nobody who says there are “pay cuts” is capable or willing to offer the residents of East Greenwich any analytical proof of such alleged cuts. They just declare it is so and, presumably, expect the residents of East Greenwich to click their heels and say “Of course, master, whatever you say.” Sorry, NEA, but this is 2007 and you are insulting the intelligence and decency of town residents.
Into that milieu, the following exchange occurred between a teacher named Ann – whose husband she discloses later is an East Greenwich teacher – and me in the Comments section of this prior post. Note how throughout the exchange she simply refuses to be factual or respond to facts. This is my whole point – either the data support the “pay cut” claim or they do not. I have put forth an explicit analysis for public review while the NEA has not and continues to refuse to do so. What are they afraid of? Instead they resort to name-calling in an effort to make it personal instead of factual. And then, in a truly Orwelllian twist, they try to turn hard-hitting fact-based answers into illegitimate responses:
Donald, Your figures are wrong, in fact they’re off by hundreds of dollars. But, I am going to assume you were mistaken, not that you are a liar. I don’t know where you got them or why you didn’t confirm them. Wait, yes I do. You enjoy trashing teachers too much to care if you’re accurate or not. An angry zealot with a little information and/or MISinformation is dangerous and sad. It only creates an avenue for these individuals to spew more venemous statements about your teachers. The teachers are not lying. They know how much they pay for insurance. If you confirmed your numbers you would see that it is indeed a paycut. Now, do teachers realize that times are tough? Of course they do, they’re tax payers too. But you can’t reach an agreement if one side only offers a paycut to some of its employees. Would you agree to that???? Teachers are very willing to get creative and structure a contract that’s fair to everyone. But I’m sure you don’t (or aren’t willing) to believe that because you seem to be one dimensional on this issue. You’re too busy name calling, making accusations, and going out of your way to villify teachers. They’re actually very good people you know. They deserve better treatment than this (and I’m not referring to salary). Your remarks are rather typical of a junior high gossip fest. Step back and take a breath please. Maybe you’ll gain some understanding of both sides of the issue if you do. In fact, usually people go out of their way to understand both sides of an issue so they don’t appear to be ignorant.
My, oh my. I am afraid you are the one who comes across as the angry zealot here. The kindest thing that can be said about your invective is that its logic is specious and and its tone is demagogic.
As a result, my blunt challenge to you is this: I put all of my analyses in full public view, even the supporting spreadsheets. I offer links to many 3rd-party documents to support other claims. Nobody to-date has offered any tangible proof that there are any errors in any of the work. (For goodness sake, nobody has even offered a tangible counter-proposal of any kind!) So demand that your NEA union reps do exactly the same as what I have done – Demand that they conduct a similar analysis, provide 3rd party sources to justify other claims they make, and then put it all out in full public view for the same level of scrutiny.
So far all they have done is what you have done: Whine endlessly in public about pay cuts and offer NO proof. That is demagoguery, plain and simple. Prove it or shut up!
Heck, I will even post their analysis on Anchor Rising if you send it to me.
I am not afraid of any such debate. But I think they are. And here is why:
Dare them to prove it to you because I predict that they can’t prove it – without errors. Why? Because what you probably don’t know is that when your union reps were challenged in the negotiations to show the School Committee members where there were pay cuts, I am told that the union reps admitted there were no pay cuts. Hmmm. Are you sure your NEA leaders are telling you the truth?
Think about that: The NEA union reps won’t show any proof of pay cuts in public and they can’t show any proof in private.
Unlike your reps, I have been tracking these issues since 2000 when I first joined the East Greenwich School Committee. In this most recent effort, I have taken data off salary schedules from legally executed contracts – and posted the schedules for public review. I have gotten official town and school summary budget information in FTM documents from the Town Manager’s office – and posted the documents for public review. I talked directly to the Town Finance Director to confirm the contract terms mentioned for town employees covered by an NEA contract – and posted the information for public review. I met twice with the School District’s Director of Administration to review current budget and historical school spending data for salaries, health benefits and pension costs – and posted the information for public review. All my statements about salaries, healthcare, and pensions come directly off documents generated by the school department in response to my requests for information that is available to concerned taxpayer citizens. Where it was necessary to conduct an analysis of raw data provided to me, I subsequently asked certain school officials to critique my work – before I posted it for public review on Anchor Rising. All of that makes for some junior high gossip fest! And, with all that information, go reread your specious claims that you don’t know where I got the figures and I did not confirm them because I don’t care if I am accurate or not. During 7 years of making public statements, nobody at the NEA has ever proven me wrong on any substantive analytics. Period.
And spare me the nonsense talk about “trashing” and “vilifying” teachers. I don’t but you are too angry to notice. I do distinguish between teachers and the NEA. I readily – and happily – admit to trashing the NEA and their union hacks who brainlessly repeat the NEA’s misleading and outright false claims. Good grief, the Soviet model is a proven failure; why is there any desire to replicate old-time Kremlin disinformation practices here at NEARI!?!
I conclude with a challenge to the teachers: Throw off the yoke of NEA servitude and declare yourselves true professionals. Decertify the NEA in East Greenwich and I bet all sorts of creative things could start to get done on both educational policies and compensation practices. Let’s create an educational revolution that lets principals and teachers really run their schools like they know how to do. Let’s find ways to reward great teachers without any upside caps on what they can earn financially or what they can do in their classrooms. Let’s get rid of the weak teachers and bring in more strong ones. Let’s figure out how to become a model school district for American education.
My,oh my. More misinformation that you wish to hang your hat on. If you’re not sitting in negotiations I wouldn’t be so quick to comment on them, just as I won’t. But I do pay a percentage of my insurance premium and I know that your numbers are incorrect. Unfortunately, you repeatedly take SOME information and spin it to your own personal satisfaction. You are now comparing the NEA to the Soviet Union? And calling teachers liars? Have you ever stopped to think that maybe you are the one being fed false information?
I’m trying to maintain a positive attitude with all of this negativity surrounding the teaching profession. This kind of conversation makes that almost impossible and goes nowhere. Appreciation is shown in the form of a fair salary in other fields. Stock options, bonuses, etc. also come into play. Teachers are not part of that kind of a system, and don’t expect to be. But we would like a fair and reasonable salary based on the average around our state-nothing more. The NEA happens to be the only group that supports this idea. Maybe if you came around and supported us we wouldn’t need the NEA. Just a joke to lighten things up-don’t worry. I won’t hang my hat on that idea. It’s hard to be happy and positive with this kind of negativity in the air so I’m done conversing for now. I’m off to my students and plan on having a wonderful day with them!
Of course, the numbers are not going to tie to what is in Ann’s paycheck – because she is still paying 5% or 10% co-pays from the last union contract and getting her 2006-07 salary.
The false “pay cut” claim has nothing to do with what is in her current paycheck and it is a scary thought that anyone would think so.
It has everything to do with PROSPECTIVE & INCREMENTAL pay dynamics when two likely events occur:
- Base Salary Increase: A base salary increase in 2007-08 results from an increase to the 10 steps in the salary schedule, which I have assumed to be 2.4%. As shown in the spreadsheet in this post, that 2.4% translates into 8.1%-11.2% pay increases for job steps 1-9 – or $4,080-7,224 annual salary increases. It is a 2.4% or $1,675 annual salary increase for job step 10.
- After-Tax Cost of Higher Co-Pay: The salary increase is offset by the incremental after-tax cost of implementing a higher co-pay, which I have assumed to be 20%, which yields an estimated incremental after-tax cost in 2007-08 of $550-989 per teacher.
Neither of these two events has happened yet. Which means you have to do some analytics. And, I reiterate again: No matter how you slice the numbers, there is no “pay cut.”
If some teachers are that unclear about how to measure the alleged “pay cut,” then it is not at all surprising that they reach the wrong conclusion. The starting point for the teachers should be a straightforward one: Demand that the NEA prove quantitatively to them where there is a “pay cut” in the future. Make the NEA earn its dues money! Before offering baseless criticisms of other people’s work, get your own house in order.
Which means, the rest of us are still waiting…
For someone on the NEA’s side to put the same kind of tangible analytical information like I have put into the public domain for scrutiny by all.
I will even post it on Anchor Rising, if you send it to me. Let’s have a real and public debate.
Until you do, whining loudly about unproven “pay cuts” only decreases your credibility by the day.
Show us…if you can…
Happy to debate substantive issues in a meaningful way…
Completely unwilling to listen to whining without any analytical backup…
Oh, it’s not done! Keep reading in the Extended Entry below.
Donald, Again you’re wrong. You assume that one can’t calculate numbers because they don’t agree with you. I am figuring the cost of the contribution accurately. It’s a very simple equation actually…IF you have the correct figures to begin with.
Now, you consistently call teachers “whiners” when they state their view, opinion, or even the mere facts of a situation. Are we not aloud to speak our views in your world Donald? And did you really call Tom a Dunce???? This is the very problem with trying to have a discussion with someone like you. And don’t you think you’re whining??? So no, I won’t continue to engage you so you can keep whining and twisting information to sensationalize this situation any more. I’m quite confident in myself, my numbers, & my collegues. I don’t need to prove anything to you. It’s not worth the effort. It’s really quite sad that this is the only thing going on in your life.
But then again maybe you’re right. In fact, if you think being a teacher is such a great deal why don’t you enroll in school and become one? Surely one such as yourself could never pass up such a financially rewarding profession.
See you in the classroom…
To Michele, You’re right on that issue and everyone involved agrees. Health insurance to those that receive the buyback would cost any school system much more. But don’t take my word for it. Apparently “The Donald” is the only one with the right answers!
Geez, this debate is like dealing with the emotional and intellectual sophistication of a petulant toddler.
You say: “Again you’re wrong…I am figuring the cost of the contribution accurately. It’s a very simple equation actually…IF you have the correct figures to begin with.”
I respond: Okay, I repeat, prove it. Don’t just stomp your foot and say the words. Instead prove it with real and verifiable numbers that tie to contractual salary data and actual health insurance premium costs, etc. Just like my analysis did. It is not lost on readers that you are vehemently protesting that my numbers are wrong while simultaneously failing to identify exactly how my analysis is incorrect.
You say: “You assume that one can’t calculate numbers because they don’t agree with you.”
I respond: Really, where did I say that? Nope, what I actually said was send me your financial analysis showing there really is a “pay cut” and I will post it on Anchor Rising for full public scrutiny. Right next to my analysis. And may the most rigorous and precise analysis carry the day!
You say: “Now, you consistently call teachers “whiners” when they state their view, opinion, or even the mere facts of a situation. Are we not aloud to speak our views in your world Donald?
I respond: No I don’t call teachers whiners. I do call union hacks – some of whom are teachers – whiners when they both cannot and will not substantiate their “pay cut” claim with publicly visible analytics to justify their argument. And, for goodness sake, nobody is trying to squelch your free speech. In fact, I am rather delighted that you are posting these comments – without supporting documentation – because they make your side look really evasive to the public and that is destroying your credibility with them.
You say: “This is the very problem with trying to have a discussion with someone like you. And don’t you think you’re whining??? So no, I won’t continue to engage you so you can keep whining and twisting information to sensationalize this situation any more. I’m quite confident in myself, my numbers, & my collegues. I don’t need to prove anything to you. It’s not worth the effort…”
I respond: Okay, now we are in full petulant toddler mode – You can’t say exactly how my publicly-visible analysis is wrong, you won’t offer any explicit analysis of your own as a counter-point, but you are confident you are right and with that declaration, you are storming off to your room. Oh, that is a sophisticated move certain to persuade the taxpayers of East Greenwich! And you think this is helping your cause? You completely miss the point if you think you have to prove anything to me. No, you have to make your case to the town residents and, trust me, you are making a case alright. Just not the one you think you are making.
You say: “See you in the classroom…We’re waiting…Still waiting…”
I respond: Instead of offering reasoned financial analyses to show a “pay cut,” you resort to word games. Not even imaginative ones at that since they only mimic mine.
To all readers:
What you have here in the exchanges between Ann and me is the essence of the NEA’s public relations strategy – before it ran amok. We all know the importance of teachers. So the NEA puts teachers out as the first line for public viewing while they do the gutter fighting over outrageous and unaffordable contract terms behind closed doors. And then, this year, the NEA took it a step further and put out the “pay cut” story to garner further sympathy for teachers. And, in the old days, it all would have succeeded.
But not anymore. What is not lost on readers is that Ann and the rest of her NEA sycophants still have not produced the first quantitative financial analysis to prove there is a “pay cut.” But they want the taxpayers of East Greenwich to believe them without providing any supporting arguments as proof – and believing them means caving into the NEA’s one-sided contract demands. Those days are over.
Meanwhile, nobody at the NEA has explicitly documented and proven any logic errors in what I have posted publicly. All while their own analysis remains hidden from public view, assuming it exists in the first place.
Some of us are not afraid of a public debate. I am confident in the quality of my analysis. That said, I am not afraid of being proven inaccurate or even wrong. I repeat my offer to post competing analyses from the NEA – if and when I get them.
It gets down to some basic ethics of how we all approach important public policy issues. Thomas raised an earlier issue about long-term trends in salary versus healthcare premium costs. Fair question, so I wrote the EG school department and asked if there was any available information which I could post. If they can find it and get it to me, I will share it on Anchor Rising. Michelle asked another question earlier about buyback dollars. Well before Ann’s latest diatribe over Michelle’s question, I had already written the school department again to ask for thoughts and data on that point.
Which all brings us back to my fundamental point: If we are going to do right by our children as well as the teachers and taxpayers, we have to understand the financial and educational issues in greater detail than usually happens. Careful analyses are a necessary first step so there is meaningful information on which to base a public debate about what is the best course of action.
I believe I have proven how the “pay cut” argument is false. And, as a result, I think East Greenwich residents have learned a lot about the NEA’s intentions since they discovered how willing the NEA is to pitch a false story to manipulate the residents – and keep pitching it after it has been discredited.
Donald, Again…you’re wrong. Instead of listening to the message and considering it you continue to whine and name call. I guess it’s “shame on anyone that doesn’t agree with you” in your world. It’s really getting rather funny to listen to you. However, there is a point where one has to stop putting themselves in the position of letting an individual (that is incabable of “considering” their point of view) attack them continuously. That is why no one will give you numbers. You accept what you want and toss the rest. We discuss the numbers with those individuals that are in the position of negotiating the contract. That’s what a bargaining unit does.
So have fun name calling, whining, and spewing your nonsense. I have more important things to do. I know the school day is over, but I have papers to correct, plans to get ready, parents to contact, grades to record, a parent volunteer schedule to prepare, forms to fill out,portfolios to organize, a curriculum guide to read through, materials to prepare, open house packets to create, rubrics to create,and meetings to prepare for next week. Am I whining? No, I love my job. But I do realize you have no knowledge of what it takes to be a teacher. I’m just stating the facts.
What are YOU doing this weekend?
Wow! I rest my case. I could not have scripted this debate better even if I spent days creating Ann’s words out of thin air.
Excuse me, but this is NOT how to win friends and influence the fine residents of East Greenwich.
Here are the 5 prior blog posts which provide the key analyses of contract terms and related issues:
Another Lie by the NEA: East Greenwich Teachers Would Take Pay Cuts Under School Committee Proposals
The NEA in East Greenwich: Reflections On The Week That Was
Quantifying the Trend Which Led to the 3050 Tax Cap Law
UPDATED: The Entitlement Mentality of Certain Union Teachers & Their Leaders
East Greenwich Pendulum Viewpoint: Clarifying the Teachers’ Union Contract Debate With Facts