RI Sen. Charles Levesque (D-Bristol/Portsmouth) and Rep. Peter Palumbo (D-Cranston) have introduced legislation that would keep expired teachers’ contracts in place until they are replaced by new contracts. The Senate passed the measure and it is now waiting in the House (see the proposal here) for consideration. Why?
Levesque said the intent is to help clarify the issue so a community’s resources, financial and otherwise, aren’t wasted.
“I believe that the proposal codifies the current understanding of the law,” he said. “I do think it is wise to do, so that the community will move on to resolving the issue, and not [spend] hundreds of thousands of dollars on finding out that a court will rule that existing contracts do continue. Even if they are successful in destroying that principle, what would the School Committee have gained?”
Simple question: so why would any teacher union–or anyone–ever see the need to renegotiate? The yearly COLA-like increases (2-3%/year) would be locked in. The currently generous benefits would be locked in. Heck, who wouldn’t want that deal? As explained by the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition
“This obviously removes any incentive for unions to negotiate, and comes close to transferring the largest element of town budgets from town councils to the unions….Unions could run forever with their current contracts without town governments having any ability to modify the terms, other than by declaring bankruptcy.
“This law would set a precedent for other government unions and thereby lock town and state budgets into permanent cost-of-living increases, minimal health-care co-pays, and the other lopsided union benefits that could no longer be negotiated because the existing contracts would remain in force forever, regardless of their nominal end dates.”
I can’t blame the unions for trying to lock in in perpetuity. Heck, that’s their purpose: to get the best deal for their membership. And it’s supposed to be the job of our politicians to take into account the best interests of ALL of their constituents. But we know how that works around here.