A Cause of This Effect

Things don’t look good in West Warwick:

There are no solutions to their immediate fiscal problem. In fact, their current deficit is projected to balloon into a $10-million deficit in the years ahead if nothing is done.
So school officials have worked “seven days a week” to come up with a three-year plan that would gradually wipe out the growing deficit.
It requires a supplemental tax hike in the current year to raise an additional $2-million. In future years, a hodge-podge of reductions, from health-insurance savings to staff cuts and eliminating sports, would gradually wipe out the deficit. It would only work with substantial union givebacks, they say.

Conspicuously absent from the story is a recollection of the work-to-rule action back in late 2007. The school committee, if you’ll recall, had followed the appropriate procedure to opt out of the last year of the contract, which would have left it up for negotiation after this school year. Witnessing the damage that the teachers were doing, however, the committee backed down and extended the contract through next year:

The next day [after the school committee’s vote not to extend the contract], the union announced it would take a “work to contract” stance that discouraged teachers from performing any duties not explicitly required by the contract. Union members began sporting pins that proclaimed “We Keep Our Promises,” and let their actions speak for themselves.
As the school year got under way, the resignations rolled in, affecting classrooms at all grade levels. Field trips and teacher participation in the school-improvement and teacher-support teams halted districtwide. At the elementary level, there were no yearbook advisers, book fairs, learning walks or teacher involvement in fundraising. Teachers shunned a Saturday-school program. The National Junior Honor Society adviser at Deering Middle School resigned as well.
Advisers for the French, Italian and Spanish clubs at West Warwick High School resigned, as did the summer school director, Academic Decathlon adviser and the credit-retrieval program coordinator. The band and choral calendars were scant. Community members and school administrators stepped in to fill vacancies, chaperoning school dances and volunteering to lead summer school programs.

And now the union has the upper hand as the town struggles and tears itself apart trying to balance its budget. The well-paid grownups got theirs, and now the question is how much they’ll deign to help the givers.

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Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
12 years ago

I’d say it’s high time the school committees and taxpayers started employing these same scorched earth policies that the teacher union pigs do.
The East Providence School Committee seems to get it. We need more just like them.

Frank
Frank
12 years ago

Well said Mike. That’s the amazing thing here – the EP school committee “gets it”. We need more like them. If I had young kids in the West Warwick school system I would move out now, it’s not going to be pretty.

Patrick
Patrick
12 years ago

Mike-
Why is the teachers’ union a “pig”? Why do you blame them for getting all the benefits that they do? I don’t blame them in the least any more than I would blame a 2 year old for eating candy til he puked, if the parent sat there and kept feeding it to the kid. Why do we blame the unions for getting all this stuff? Who gave it to them? It’s the school committee morons that handed over the store. If I want to give you a million dollars, are you going to say no, you don’t want it? And if you do take it, are you pig for doing so?
I don’t blame the unions. It’s a negotiation. You try to get all you can. It’s up to the each side to get the best deal for themselves. If someone’s going to give you something, you’re not a pig for taking it.
Let’s start putting the blame where it belongs, on the school committees.

Tom W
Tom W
12 years ago

>>I don’t blame the unions. It’s a negotiation. You try to get all you can. It’s up to the each side to get the best deal for themselves. If someone’s going to give you something, you’re not a pig for taking it.
The largesse enjoyed by public school teachers (Rhode Island’s nouveau riche) is not the result of a “negotiation” when tenure, step increases and pensions are all established by statute (thanks to the teachers unions “negotiating” in the back rooms of the General Assembly).
The largesse enjoyed by public school teachers (Rhode Island’s nouveau riche) is not the result of a “negotiation” when school committees are stacked with teachers from other districts, spouses of teachers and retired teachers, none of whom are deemed to have a conflict of interest by our cooperative ethics commission. Particularly when those “negotiators” know that the higher the package they “negotiate” the higher the comparison will be when the package in the community in which they teach is up for “negotiation.” You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
It is not a “negotiation” when the system is intentionally designed so that school committees are not responsible for raising the funds, and so are steered toward taking the path of least resistance, i.e., by cratering to the teachers unions.
The teachers unions have used their political influence with the Democrat Party to game the system. So let’s talk about reality instead of hiding behind the skirts of a mythical “collective bargaining” process and mythical “negotiations.”

kathy
kathy
12 years ago

It’s the union’s job to advocate for their members, and the members of the school committee are supposed to advocate for the students and taxpayers.
It is fact in E Providence as I am sure it is the same in most cities and towns, that the deck is stacked when you have former teacher, and secretary union presidents running the committee. It’s impossible for the taxpayer to get a break when public union members, past or present run for these offices and breeze in with the help of these unions. The students get pinched, because money that should be going toward supplies, books, technology, and safe schools, go into overgenerous contracts. Talk about conflicts of interest.
Take at good look who runs this state (into the ground), the public sector unions have done the majority of the damage. They have our general assembly, who are from the public sector quaking in their boots, if they don’t do their bidding.
These union members who say the contracts were bargained in good faith have to remember, you can’t have a fair contract when you don’t even have a financial impact statement to back up these contracts. These unions knew exactly what they did when they put their fellow union members in. So the complaining that it was 10 yrs of mismanagement, you’re darn right, you were part of the mismanagement.

Patrick
Patrick
12 years ago

“hanks to the teachers unions “negotiating” in the back rooms of the General Assembly”
And who put those General Assembly members in office? The unions?
“when school committees are stacked with teachers from other districts, spouses of teachers and retired teachers”
And who voted those school committee members into office? The unions?
“the deck is stacked when you have former teacher, and secretary union presidents running the committee. ”
And who voted these people onto the committee?
Again, how can we call the unions “pigs” and blame them when they’re simply better at the game? If we don’t like the game or the rules, let’s change them. Let’s run for school committee, get good, strong people on there and oust the insiders. Why sit back and call names and complain unless we’re going to do something about it. I’m not pointing a finger at kathy or tom, just saying in general. We, the people sick of it all, need to step up and put our time where our mouth is and successfully run for school committee and get other like-minded people on the committee. When that happens, we’ll have change.

Tom W
Tom W
12 years ago

>>And who put those General Assembly members in office? The unions?
Yes.
Just ask any former Democrat General Assembly member who dared cross the unions and then faced a union-hack primary challenge. Not to mention ask just about any current Democrat General Assembly member who provided the funding and “volunteers” for their campaigns.
>>And who voted those school committee members into office? The unions?
Ditto.
One can make an argument for unions in the private sector.
But not in the public sector.
Unions elect their own “management” with whom they “negotiate.”
The source of funds is obtained through coercion (taxes), so there is no market discipline to help put a constraint on the greed of the unions (greed is not confined to “management” or to “the rich”).
Similarly, government doesn’t go out of business, so again nothing to constrain the greed of unions.
Government does not have to provide quality services, nor necessary services, for it is a monopoly.
We in the Northeast and Rustbelt are living the consequences of public sector unionization.

Patrick
Patrick
12 years ago

>>And who put those General Assembly members in office? The unions?
Yes.
=============
Huh? Only the unions get to vote in RI? News to me. I’m not in a union and I got to vote. I’m guessing there are others not in a union that also got to vote and I bet many of them voted for the union and other special interest hacks in office.

Tom W
Tom W
12 years ago

Yes other (non-union) people vote. Gee, what a revelation.
The fact remains that the public sector unions have gamed the system in their favor, particularly using the primary system.
Yes, their “job” is to seek as much as possible for their members.
That is exactly why unionization should be prohibited in the public sector, for the reasons already expressed.
Having elected officials “negotiate” with public sector unions is an inherent conflict of interest.
That said, until the day when we can return to a union-free public sector, I agree with your (unspoken) premise that every citizen that isn’t feeding off of the public teat should vote against any candidate that is endorsed (or otherwise supported) by a public sector union.
Similarly, any school committee candidate that is an “educator” should be voted against. Talk about the foxes guarding the henhouse!

Bri in NC
Bri in NC
12 years ago

I agree that alot of the anger directed at the unions in RI is misplaced. The union bosses do their job well and get the most they can for their members.
Where the problem lies is with the voting public. Too many either don’t show up, or will vote for one party without thinking or even knowing who the candidates are. If you really want to fix these problems, take a cue from TCC and take back the ballot box. When the taxpayers demographic casts more votes than the union group, things will change.

Frank
Frank
12 years ago

Let’s not forget that in RI, since it is not a “right to work state”, union dues is taken from all workers in unionized entities whether or not they wish to be in a union. Then most of that dues gets funneled into the political arena, not the day to day operations of the union. Nearly every penny of the political monies goes to the democrat party (the rest to a few RINOs), again, without the permission of the dues paying members (some of whom are, no doubt, independents and republicans). Unions use not only their money but also their organizational structure and manpower to assist in campaigning. The unions are the engine behind the democrat party here in RI. As Tom W has claimed, the unions and dems have gamed the system. Without the unions the corrupt RI democratic party would not have a leg to stand on. For that the unions deserve all the “anger” that gets thrown their way.

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