Teachers Shouldn’t Be Bullies

This is a plea to the teachers of Tiverton: Please step back for a moment and consider the depths to which your union is bringing you:

Tiverton teachers plan to picket the workplace of School Committee Chairwoman Denise deMedeiros on Monday afternoon and have notified the president of St. Anne’s Hospital in Fall River, Mass., where deMedeiros works as a nurse, that she is the target of their informational demonstration.
DeMedeiros said she learned of the intended action Monday after the hospital president, Robert E. Guyon Jr., received a letter from Patrick Crowley, assistant executive director of the National Education Association-Rhode Island, notifying him of the plan. …
Other School Committee members may be the target of informational picketing in the future, [NEA-Tiverton President Amy] Mullen said.

I’ll even make a plea to NEARI head Bob Walsh: Please rein in your attack dog. You’re poisoning our community.
Whether it’s The Finger‘s brainchild or not, the tactic isn’t “informational.” It’s intimidational picketing. People who see the protest won’t know (or care) that it has to do with a school, let alone one in another state. People who read about it in the news will merely say, “Huh. Another teacher protest.”
This is all about putting negotiating heat on an elected official of the town by creating difficulties in her workplace. It’s a new low, reached for the reason that a unionized group — with members already well remunerated — wants to squeeze more blood from the taxpayer stone.
The union has crossed the line. Which is something that (in another sense) teachers should begin to do. I wish I weren’t facing such dark financial circumstances, myself, or I’d take some time off to counterprotest with a sign reading:

Teachers Shouldn’t Be Bullies

If they persisted campaigning in this manner, I’d stand outside a different school each morning and afternoon to yell:

Teachers Shouldn’t Be Bullies

If I didn’t need my vehicle for work, I’d park it in front of the schools with a sign in the window, so parents, students, and neighbors could read that:

Teachers Shouldn’t Be Bullies

The unionists and teachers have worked it into their job-lives to organize and to protest. To picket and to scheme. So they’re in a position to take advantage of the fact that part-time, small-town officials must have outside lives by which to survive, which makes them vulnerable to attack. And the citizens must work regular hours, which makes them dispersed and weak.
Such are the hallmarks of bullies, which teachers shouldn’t be.

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Siva
Siva
13 years ago

“plan to picket the workplace of School Committee Chairwoman Denise deMedeiros on Monday afternoon”
Harassing someone at their place of work is soooo professional! And doing it in the afternoon when most people with non-union, non-180 day a year, part time jobs are working just proves how out of touch they are with reality!

msteven
msteven
13 years ago

Someone I work with has a 2nd grade daughter who was in a striking school district. The day before the strike was supposed to start the teacher told the kids that people who were criminals would be their teacher and not to help out the new teachers in ways such as showing them where things were, etc. The daughter came home in tears.
Based on what I’m reading here, that’s par for the course in teacher union/school district negotiations.
The high road – not taken.

Monique
13 years ago

“This is all about putting negotiating heat on an elected official of the town by creating difficulties in her workplace.”
Exactly. You won’t give us what we want. So we’re going to harass you at your job and either get you fired or get you to step down from the School Committee. Whoever said this is an informational picket knowingly and egregiously lied. (By the way, as this is clearly harassment and not information, does this open the NEA and teachers up to a lawsuit or at least a restraining order?)
In any case, now it is clear that citizen government is fine with the NEA as long as they get what they demand. No matter how unreasonable.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

If Denise deMedeiros or St. Anne’s Hospital aren’t in court requesting a restraining order against the union after this they’re begging for the harassment to continue.
I hope the press shows up in droves to watch The Finger and his crew’s thuggery.

John
John
13 years ago

I’m sorry…I’m confused. Why would anyone expect anything but this kind of thuggery from The Finger and his gang! They are a gang, aren’t they? They sure don’t act like professionals!

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Since the NEA is clearly too thick-headed to NOT go through with this we can all rest comfortable in the knowledge that the news footage will be woven into every single “I’m (Insert Republican Name Here) and I approve this message…” commercial, followed by something about releasing the stranglehold that the unions have on the taxpayers.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
13 years ago

>>Since the NEA is clearly too thick-headed to NOT go through with this we can all rest comfortable in the knowledge that the news footage will be woven into every single “I’m (Insert Republican Name Here) and I approve this message…” commercial, followed by something about releasing the stranglehold that the unions have on the taxpayers.
Well, not any Avedesian commercials, or …

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

I stand corrected.

ally
ally
13 years ago

So instead of fighting, teachers are supposed to sit back, not stick up for themselves and take a pay cut? Would YOU take a pay cut? Doubt it! The teachers are teaching children that they should stand up for what they believe in and if you truly believe in something then fight for it. There are two sides to this story you know.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

You can fight. But at some point you’re going to have to realize that you’re going to have to seriously negotiate and that’s nothing remotely like intimidation and harassment like this.
I think it might be time to hire a monkey for Mr. Crowley’s back. Someone to follow him everywhere he goes for a few days just to let him know what he’s trying to do.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>So instead of fighting, teachers are supposed to sit back, not stick up for themselves and take a pay cut? Would YOU take a pay cut? Doubt it! The teachers are teaching children that they should stand up for what they believe in and if you truly believe in something then fight for it. There are two sides to this story you know.
Define this supposed “pay cut” that you’re talking about.

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

This move, potentially disrupting a hospital’s operations because of the conduct of just one of its employees, is not anything I’d ever endorse. Does neither side any good.
But where are you going to get the replacement teachers from? What college kid is going to enter a profession where he or she will come under attack the first time they’re ever involved in a tough contract negotiation?
There’s too much bullying on both sides to go around.

mikeinRI
mikeinRI
13 years ago

I am a unionized teacher (thankfully AFT) and thoroughly embarrassed by the behavior of Mr. Crowley. The NEARI leaders must realize the long-term damage Crowley is doing to all teachers, at least from a public relations perspective.
Mr. Crowley might be better suited for work with the Teamsters.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

Ally,
There’s no pay cut. Most people deal with the lesser raise that teachers are resisting so inappropriately every year.
But to the point, anyway: if the town is strapped, if people are having to sell their homes, perhaps teachers should consider that their massive annual raises might be worth sacrificing so that the children aren’t made to suffer and so that their fellow teachers aren’t let go altogether.

WillP
WillP
13 years ago

>>You can fight. But at some point you’re going to have to realize that you’re going to have to seriously negotiate
Greg,
Correct. But it is the school committee who refuses to do this. They had a handful of meetings (most of which they were ordered to by a judge) and then stopped. They now refuse to negotiate at all, instead choosing to wait 3 months for nonbinding arbitration. While I don’t agree with the workplace picketing, it seems borne out of frustration that the committee won’t do exactly what you suggest. And has Justin commented, it is poisoning the town in the mean time.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

It all depends upon what the “definition of ‘negotiating’ is” (to paraphrase that Democrat Party hero).
The teachers’ unions definition of “negotiating” is not about arriving at a fair compensation package, but “how more are we going to get compared to the existing contract?”
We don’t need unions to give teachers a fair compensation package. Indeed we should compensate teachers commensurate with other professionals – in return for entrance and performance requirements commensurate with those of other professionals.
But the teachers can’t have it both ways (though some seem to believe so). If you want to unionize and act like low-skilled factory workers, and be paid notwithstanding your performance (good or bad), then don’t complain when your esteem in the community plummets.
If you want to enjoy the esteem (and compensation) of skilled professionals, then start acting the part.

WillP
WillP
13 years ago

Tom,
But this town needs a real solution that will get this done now. So either you agree to binding arbitration or you keep talking. Several other towns still don’t have contracts, but none have become as combative and personal as the fight we have here. It is hurting the town. I am not saying give in, but the “I am just not going to talk to you” approach isn’t realistic or helpful.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

WillP,
Experience has shown that the unions want binding arbitration because the arbitrators ALWAYS give them something more (they don’t want to get blackballed from future gigs). The union officials then get to tell the rank and file how “hard” they “fought” and they end up with something more (so they look good to the rank and file and so keep their six-figure dues-funded salaries) – so it’s a no-lose for the unions.
I can’t say one way or the other, but strikes, bullhorns outside of offices and demonstrations outside of third-party workplaces would lend some credence to the school committee’s reluctance to “negotiate.” They’re probably also assuming that the non-binding arbitration will propose something less than what the union is demanding, giving them the moral high ground.
The bottom line is that the taxpayers of Tiverton (and RI) are tapped out. We are among the highest taxed in the country.
Meanwhile the teachers in this state are among the highest paid in the country – both as to salary and benefits (the most notable being the incredibly generous pension and health care benefits). And the public school system isn’t doing its job – RI’s schools rank below average for the U.S., which in turn ranks below average in national comparisons.
So the teachers already have a generous compensation package, and one that is unjustifiably generous given what they are “accomplishing.”
The game is changing. The general public is not only tapped-out, but is catching on to the teachers unions and the negative impact they’re having on communities, children, parents, taxpayers and the future economic competitiveness (and standard of living) of this country.
The school committee isn’t tearing the community apart; if anything it’s (finally) defending the community from the rapacious demands of a harmful special interest group.

WillP
WillP
13 years ago

>>unions want binding arbitration because the arbitrators ALWAYS give them something more
>>They’re (SC) probably also assuming that the non-binding arbitration will propose something less than what the union is demanding, giving them the moral high ground
So your suggesting that a licensed, professional arbitrator is neither impartial nor fair but renders their decisions based upon whether his terms will be binding or non-binding? My research (especially in CT) does not show that, but I have the feeling that is not really your point.
I guess whether this community agrees with your assessment of the school committee’s actions will bear out in time.

Monique
13 years ago

Yes, WillP, it is common knowledge that in Rhode Island, binding arbitration during stalled school contract negotiations favors the public labor union. “The bottom line is that the taxpayers of Tiverton (and RI) are tapped out. We are among the highest taxed in the country. Meanwhile the teachers in this state are among the highest paid in the country – both as to salary and benefits (the most notable being the incredibly generous pension and health care benefits). And the public school system isn’t doing its job – RI’s schools rank below average for the U.S., which in turn ranks below average in national comparisons.” I echo all of these comments and would add that it is pointless for a group of professionals to “get” raises out of a binding arbitrator (or a school committee less conscientious than Tiverton’s) when they cannot be funded. And while the new raises might actually be paid in the short term, it will be at the expense of other commitments. Not commitments to others in the community. Commitments to teachers. When teachers get control of their profession again, one of the many critical items on their to do list is their pension. If they expect to receive a pension, they need to re-open their contracts for at least the last two rounds and put, at a minimum, their raises towards their pension. They then need to put a gun to politicians heads (sorry to get violent) and tell them to put their raises and their pensions in a lockbox. I am not familiar with the actuarials but more than raises may be required to secure teacher pensions. This also assumes that Rhode Island’s economy does not worsen, which may be overly-optimistic. See, while it looks like the politicians and the teacher unions are acting… Read more »

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