Union Reverse Tautology and Arbetrayal
The rhetorical dance of the East Providence teachers’ union is so flowing, it’s easy to miss the essential argument:
“The School Committee’s solution to their self-inflicted fiscal problem is to blame it on the teachers’ contract and to shift the entire burden of paying off that deficit to the teachers,” union representative Jeannette Woolley countered in her opening statements. She also said the district had opportunities to implement health-care cost sharing before with past contracts but the school board members at the time “dropped the ball.”
In addition, Woolley showed the teachers conceded scheduled raises three years ago when the district needed help, and the committee and school administration didn’t raise the issue of health-care cost sharing then, either.
“So the bottom line from our perspective is that this school district is not in its current condition as a result of what the School Committee likes to term an overly rich contract,” she said. “The facts suggest that the School Committee simply hasn’t taken care of business over the years in this school district.”
Got it? The School Committee didn’t negotiate tighter contracts over the years, leading to the currently unaffordable one, so that contract can hardly be said to be “overly rich.” The lessons for children are manifold: That overweight child could have forced himself away from the potato chips and the video game console at any time, so it can hardly be said that he ought to change his behavior now that he’s obese!
The worst part is that the tie-breaking “neutral” arbitrator apparently bought the argument, at least sufficiently that his panel issued a decision that the school committee clearly can’t accept — thus illustrating what a scam the arbitration process is in Rhode Island:
Mr. Ryan continues:
“The Union urges that comparability (to other district contracts), not ability to pay, should be the panel’s paramount consideration. The School Committee insists that it has no choice but to pay its FY08 debts and adhere to its budget for FY09. School department deficits are unlawful under R.I.G.L. §§ 16-2-9(d), (e), & (f); 16-2-21 (b) & (c); 16-2-21.4; 16-2-11 (c); and 16-2-1. These interlocking enactments prohibit school departments from incurring or maintaining a deficit or engaging in deficit spending.” …
Mr. Kinder commenting on his dissenting vote said: “The award is useless because the School Committee is prohibited by law from accepting it. The award is useless because the School Committee cannot meet the award’s costs in the first year of its 3-year term, let alone in the second or third years. Those are facts. Those facts were placed before the panel. The panel’s award ignores these facts and provides modest changes that, if adopted last year, might have served to avert this year’s financial crisis. But, last year, when the Teachers’ Union was asked to accept similar, modest changes in order to avert a $3.2 million deficit, the Union refused. In consequence, the School Department will end this year with a deficit of well over $8 million, if nothing is done.”
Will’s got the entire School Committee press release up on Ocean State Republican.