Warwick Teachers Union Balks at Talks
The Warwick Teachers Union (WTU) leadership continues to look for and (surprise) find reasons to not meet with the Warwick School Committee to help resolve the district’s $8.9 million budget deficit. As reported by Russel Moore in the Warwick Beacon, the School Administration had proposed to consolidate and eliminate some department head positions in the City’s schools (estimated savings of $300,000), which “infuriated union members.” Enter WTU President James Ginolfi:
“We were more than willing to sit down and talk until they took that unilateral action. It’s like they want to talk right after they violate our contract,” said Ginolfi….[U]nion members…wanted to address the budget deficit through negotiations. Ginolfi said it would be illegal to eliminate the department heads without the union’s consent because the positions are contractually protected. The union has since filed a grievance….Meanwhile, the school committee had scheduled a meeting with the union’s executive board last Tuesday. The purpose of the meeting was quite open-ended, Ginolfi said.
“[School Committee Chairman Christopher Friel] said that we were going to talk about everything. What does that mean? I wanted to set some parameters before we met,” said Ginolfi.
Ginolfi then notified the school committee that unless they rescinded their plans to eliminate department heads — there would be no meeting, at least so far as the union was concerned. No progress was made and neither side would budge. The school department wouldn’t rescind the notices and the union didn’t show up. Tuesday came and went without a meeting.
Apparently, the WTU leadership isn’t able to multi-task. Ahh, that’s not really true. It’s all about perception and rights and contracts, you see. Gotta save face, show power, get your agida up over being “insulted” or slighted. Ginolfi was also upset that the Administration had publicly stated that all school employees should have a 20% health care co-pay before coming to the WTU. It’s not exactly a newsflash that co-pays are on the horizon, whether you’ve been officially informed or not. Grow up and get in the room and talk. Sheesh.
Meanwhile, there still doesn’t seem to be any negotiation movement between the School Deparment and the Warwick Independent School Employees Union (WISE), whose members have been working under the old contract for 4 years, which means no raises but also no health care co-payments. Makes me wonder if the East Greenwich model is being looked at for implementation in Warwick.