East Greenwich Teachers’ Union Contract Negotiations Update: School Committee Stays Focused on Priority #1, Educational Programs for Children
This official statement from the East Greenwich School Committee has been distributed to the media and updates us on the NEA teachers’ union contract negotiations:
The School Committee and the East Greenwich Education Association met last evening for over 5 hours with the assistance of a state appointed mediator. Unfortunately, we were unable to settle our contract differences.
The Committee is not able to grant teachers the salary increases they are demanding. Funding those increases would require even more layoffs and program cuts than are already anticipated. Multiple factors, including the recently enacted tax levy cap and double digit increases in pension cost, have contributed to a tight budget situation.
Indeed, we have asked the teachers to pay a slightly higher portion of their health insurance premiums to help defray the high cost of healthcare for the district. Our proposal would also provide every teacher a net increase in salary for each year over a three-year period. However, it will still necessitate teacher layoffs and program cuts in order to balance the budget.
We recognize that this is one of the most difficult financial periods ever faced by Rhode Island public school districts and communities. We will continue to ask the teachers for their understanding and to work with us and the East Greenwich community to deliver a quality education program for our children during this difficult financial environment.
More from the ProJo here.
Congratulations to the East Greenwich School Committee for focusing first on the educational programs which are so important to the town’s children. Doing that in a fiscally responsible way that looks after the interests of the tax-paying residents they were also elected to serve is very much appreciated.
In spite of the NEA’s rhetoric, the School Committee is also treating the teachers more than fairly. For example, if you look at Table II in the analysis linked in the Extended Entry below, you will also see how the School Committee’s latest proposal offers $4,080-7,224 or 8.1-11.2% in annual salary increases to 9 of the 10 job steps in 2007-2008, before the offset from any higher health insurance co-payments. In fact, many of us think those salary increases are far too high. Step 10 teachers would receive a $1,675 or 2.4% increase, before any offset.
(Note: Some of us would be willing to offer a higher salary increase to Step 10 teachers but only on the condition that the 8-11% annual increases for Steps 1-9 are brought down substantially. That approach, which the NEA does not appear willing to endorse, would require an overhaul of the existing 10-step salary schedule.)
Separately, you may have noticed how Anchor Rising stopped the “pay cut” analysis hostage day count on September 30. There was no reason to continue. None of us expected a substantative response from the NEA and that 9-day series of posts was done for the express purpose of making that point publicly.
So we made our point, town residents now know the real story, and that is all that matters.
At some later time, I will pull together all the lessons learned from these developments into one summary post. It will remind everyone how many other NEA myths – besides the “pay cut” claim – were busted along the way.
See the Extended Entry below if you want to review the analysis showing how there were never any “pay cuts” for East Greenwich teachers in contract proposals from the School Committee.
THE “PAY CUT” DEBATE:
Here is our blog post describing how there is NO “pay cut.” It even includes spreadsheets with documentation of data sources and assumptions for public scrutiny.
In response to prior questions about the model presented on Anchor Rising, I previously offered these points for your consideration:
Some analyses are built on assumptions about assumptions and are, therefore, subject to analytical manipulation. We all would do well to be skeptical of such financial models.
However, this analysis which debunked the “pay cut” claim was most certainly not that kind of model. Which meant that anybody could have independently confirmed every primary assumption used in my analysis. And the analysis itself could have been done by any student who successfully passed Finance 101.
- I copied 10 historical salary numbers for 2006-07 from 1 salary table on page 34 of the recently expired and publicly-available contract.
- I copied 2 historical co-pay percentages for 2006-07 off page 45 of that same contract.
- I asked the East Greenwich School Department for publicly-available information on the actual 2006-07 and 2007-08 costs of family and single person health insurance premiums for teachers, a total of 4 additional historical numbers.
- At my request, the School Department provided me with its assumed annual growth rate for health insurance premiums during the next two years, another 2 numbers.
- I took the latest School Committee 3-year offer for salary step increases (3 numbers, 1 for each year) and co-pay percentages (3 more numbers, 1 for each year), as quoted previously in a public newspaper, and used them after confirming they were accurate.
Those were the ONLY essential pieces of information needed to do the analysis and derive the NO “pay cuts” conclusion.
24 confirmable data points, 16 of which were documented historical data, all of which came from just 3 public sources. It didn’t come any more easily verifiable than that!
Instead of responding with cogent arguments, all the opposition did was engage in name-calling. Meanwhile, as many of the blog comments showed, the public noticed their evasiveness and kept asking for a meaningful counter-argument from the NEA. In other words, the public asked the NEA and its supporters to stop with their dismissive tone toward East Greenwich residents where they declared the Anchor Rising analysis wrong without any analytical support and without having shown in a substantive way why they disagreed. At the same time, the NEA continued to propagate their false claim that the teachers are being asked to take a “pay cut.”
This was never rocket science. Think about what the opposition could have done if they were genuinely interested in engaging in a meaningful public debate: Confirmed the 16 publicly available historical data points and the 2 projected health insurance cost increase numbers central to my publicly available analysis. The good news was that nobody had to file any legal paperwork to get the information I used in the model because all of it has been publicly available to concerned citizens. An earnest call/meeting or two – like I did – was all that was required.
Plus, once those 18 data were in hand (and I assure you they would be identical to mine) and using the latest publicly-disclosed School Committee offer, anybody could have then gone back to my model available here on-line for review. Walked through each table of the model to see how the confirmed data formed the basis for the analysis in it.
And, for a sensitivity analysis, nobody even had to stop there: They could have varied the step increase numbers and copays for the 3 years using less favorable numbers that all of us were told were discussed – for example, step increases of 2%, 1.75%, and 1.75% with a 20% copay in all 3 years, which had been publicly disclosed in the media as the School Committee’s original offer – and shown how even that did not yield a “pay cut.”
For anyone willing to make that effort, I stated with certainty that they would have been pleased to confirm the validity of the Anchor Rising analysis and reporting.
So the issue remains clear:
The NEA made its “pay cut” claim central to its PUBLIC relations campaign in East Greenwich during the current contract negotiations time period. Their “pay cut” claim has been shown to be false here on Anchor Rising, using verifiable data from public sources – not just unverifiable words like the NEA preferred to use. Anchor Rising invited the NEA to back up their public claim with facts, even to post it on this blog site. They refused. If the NEA really had the data which discredited an outspoken public critic, why did they hold back sharing it publicly? Could it be that maybe – just maybe – their “pay cut” claim is false and they knew it?
Or, to have a little musical fun here and if you know your music history about the great blues master Robert Johnson and his “deal,” the NEA remains at a crossroads.