When Management Acknowledges Its Own Cards

Two factors are obvious in making Rhode Island school committees behave as if authority over the jobs is ultimately a weak card in negotiations: Some members see giving as much money as possible to teachers as one of their rightful objectives (whether they’re teachers, themselves, or have some other reason for alliance), and other members are people who see their positions as a matter of community service, and they entered them not expecting to have to stand against organized, bare-knuckle negotiators.
Of course, Rhode Island has also set up a series of implied rules and what one might call “legal insinuations” that have led motivated school committee members to hesitate. That’s why it took East Providence’s challenging those insinuations — and winning — before its school committee could arrive at this point:

While it seems one-sided, the pact secures teachers’ salaries and benefits. The School Committee imposed its 2009 salary and benefit cuts after the previous contact expired.

Read the article for the details, but the point that I wish to highlight, here, is that running the school system is not exactly a powerless position, when it comes to negotiations. It’s well past time for Rhode Islanders in positions of authority to stop shirking their responsibility to think and act independently of the deadly, draining illusion drawn for the benefit of the state’s public sector unions.

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