A Union Gotcha in the Contract
Given recent developments, I thought I’d review my notes and the audio from the Tiverton School Committee meeting at which the members approved a largely retroactive contract. Several townsfolk warned the committee that approving the contract in the current economy was reckless. I specifically suggested that, former Vice Chair Mike Burk’s suggestion to “hold the line” with the subsequent contract notwithstanding, the union would have every incentive to avoid negotiations at this time. But four of the five committee members thought it would be the fair, community-minded thing to pass the contract (PDF) and move on to negotiations for the next one — which should cover the upcoming school year — in a spirit of collegiality.
Well, the union must have been snickering behind its hand, with Article 31 of the approved document (carried over from the previous contract) in mind:
The provisions of this Agreement shall be effective as of September 1, 2007 and will continue and remain in full force and effect until August 31, 2009. Said Agreement will automatically be renewed and will continue in full force and effect for additional periods of one (1) year unless either the School Committee or the Association gives written notice to the other not later than December 1 of the year prior to the aforesaid expiration date, or any anniversary thereof, of its desire to reopen the Agreement and to negotiate over the terms of a successor Agreement.
Never mind that the contract wasn’t approved until after the deadline, the union is insisting that notice was not given, so the contract remains in force until next year. As the Newport Daily News reports, that serves to keep all salaries where they are — with step increases continuing, of course — and prevent the school committee from realizing the increase in healthcare contributions for which it had budgeted.
Even union-friendly committee member Sally Black was “surprised” by the move. Gotcha.
See, to the union, talk of community, fairness, openness, honesty, education, and the good of children is merely a pack of cards to play. It’s all about the adults and their remuneration and their benefits and their occupational comfort and soaking taxpayers for the maximum amount possible. If I were a teacher, I’d be ashamed to be associated with such an organization. As a taxpayer, I’ve certainly got my eye out for school committee candidates who won’t be so easily fooled.
As services for students begin evaporating and taxes go up, parents and their neighbors should be careful to allocate blame where it belongs: With the calculating, manipulative union that represents the single largest expenditure in either of the town’s budgets.