Providence Teacher Layoffs: The Era of Cutting Begins?

It’s been explained again and again that the pink slips are a technical response to fiscal realities. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped the hyperbolic rhetoric from continuing to flow from Providence teacher union leadership once the pink slips were issued. (I guess once we heard the Pearl Harbor reference, we shouldn’t have been surprised). To act like this technical maneuver is an actual firing of 1,900 teachers is completely disingenuous, never mind saying its union busting. Both the mayor and superintendent have stated most teachers will be hired back. This is nothing more than crying wolf and amping up the rhetoric to a fever pitch. All for what? Power? I don’t know.
Look, it’s just a bad situation that has been allowed to get worse and worse due to myopic kicking-the-can-down-the-road on the part of union leadership and Democratic politicians in Providence for decades. Now the chickens are roosting and contemporary teachers are paying for the sins of the past. I can understand the frustration and the fear and paranoia, but private sector workers deal with those worries regularly and still manage to function as professionals.
For instance, I’ve heard complaints that the administration is going to cherry-pick the senior teachers–regardless of performance–to save more money. Guess what? It routinely happens in the private sector, particularly amongst the same professional class that teachers are part of. Middle-management? They are ripe for salary pruning all the time.
My point isn’t that misery loves company, it’s that this is the new reality. Much like the 1990’s were a “vacation from history” (a la Fukuyama), unionized public employee unions have had a vacation from “economics” for a few decades. The private sector and general public paid for that vacation and have told elected officials we can’t pay anymore. So, the cutting has begun.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
34 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“[P]ublic employee unions have had a vacation from “economics” for a few decades. The private sector and general public paid for that vacation and have told elected officials we can’t pay anymore. So, the cutting has begun.”
Either Michael or Pat can tell us about how the private market sets wages incorrectly, and how only top-down central planning backed by government force can correct its invalid outcomes. They’ll even be happy to recommend the types of people to fill these enlightened despot roles.

michael
11 years ago

All I can tell you is this: My pay and benefits are comparable to private sector trades such as nursing, electricians, finish carpenters and other trained fields. I started with the PFD in 1991 at minimum wage for six months, 32,000 for a year 36,000 for another year then something like 42,000 until I made rank. Right now I’m a lieutenant on Rescue 1, base salary 58,000. Overtime is availabe, not by fraud or deception by by a minimum manning provision of 92 firefighters per shift. Argue about that all you want, and scoff and ridicule it, but the fact is that it takes that many to do the job. I wish we had more. Mutual aid companies are in Providence daily because we cannot handle the call volume. The city hasn’t hired anybody in years, our numbers have shrunk from nearly 500 in the nineties to 425 or so now, I really don’t know the exact numbers. I can retire after twenty years. The reason for that is because after twenty years as a firefighter, the ability to do the job diminishes. I’ve seen and done a lot. It is grueling. This is a hard job. I signed on to do it, and have done so. This is probably my last year. I’ll get half my pay, no overtime or other tricks, half my base pay. Any one of you could have done the same, but chose not to. You are looking for reasons we have cheated and lied and stolen and fleeced the taxpayers. We have not. Unions are not perfect. Politicians are not perfect. The union that represents me presents economic data, and comparisons with other professions and other fire departments and begins negotiations. It is a long process, not at all a giveaway. You are completely… Read more »

Tim
Tim
11 years ago

Providence Fire Dept. is close to NINE MILLION DOLLARS over budget.
‘Nuff said!

michael
11 years ago

Did it ever occur to you, Tim that budgeting 10 million or whatever the number for a 20 million dollar job is doomed to fail?
I think I’ll budget fifty bucks for my electric bill then tell National Grid that they are one-hundred dollars over budget.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
11 years ago

michael,
We need people to do the job. We don’t need you or your union. You cry about having gone from 500 or so to 425. Maybe if the pay and benefits was more reasonable, you’d have more people.
Nonetheless, you need to get your head out of your union butt. Your job is no more grueling than many others. You job is not all that dangerous, compared to many others. You have been brainwashed with your union’s talking points.
The fact is, there are many willing and able to do your job for less money so stop your sanctimonious whining – it’s really tired and pathetic.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

Michael, this is actually the most reasonable commentary you’ve posted in weeks and I applaud you for it. If you always presented your ideas this way, I doubt we would ever have any contentiousness. I agree with much of what you’ve said. The base salaries are not outrageous. It is the excessive overtime that leads to outrageous compensation on the individual level. If we can’t agree that no firefighter should make over 100k a year, then we really have nothing to talk about, but it sounds like we’re on the same page there fundamentally. Maybe we disagree about how best to put a stop to it. The disability fraud is a HUGE elephant in the room for your department and union. It sounds like it’s been largely dealt with in the newer generations of firefighters, but you really have to acknowledge the current and past disability pension fraud taking place at face value to have any credibility. This is why firefighter commenter Tom Kenney is a total joke here – he claims to have “never” witnessed any fraud at the Providence Fire Department – yeah right. On a separate but related issue, doofuses like the two firefighters who tried to game the system through demotions need to be promptly and publicly shamed by your union – not defended. Solidarity shouldn’t extend to fraudsters and cheats. You don’t need to associate with those types. I don’t know what you mean by “you need us.” I was given the option to join a union at my work and I refused. I’m better off for it. Our union is self-destructive and only leads to a neverending black hole of despair filled with grievances upon grievances that its members never extricate themselves from once they start down it. They are the least productive, laziest,… Read more »

michael
11 years ago

My job is much more grueling than most. I’ve seen more in twenty years than I ever expected. Not dangerous? It is extremely dangerous. But that is not what I get paid for. I get paid for my knowledge. Everybody is replaceable. Most people I know could do my job. I could do most of theirs. We all do what we do and get paid for it.
Do me a favor, Mike, and read some of your commentary, then mine, then ask yourself who the whiner is. If you answer me, they you are lying to yourself.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
11 years ago

Not even in the top 12 michael.
People do far more dangerous jobs for much less money. Your union has brainwashed you.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/galleries/1500/1/?redirectURL

michael
11 years ago

Oh, good, I thought I had a dangerous job. That darn union, setting all those fires, hiring those actors who attack us in the rescue, faking the contagious diseases we get, staging the vehicle accidents. Now I can rest easy knowing its all a set up.

michael
11 years ago

Hey, wait a minute! Out of the millions of job descriptions, firefighter is # 13, and you say it’s not dangerous? What are you smoking?

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

No question firefighter is a dangerous profession. My only question is why >95% of the holier-than-thou proseletyzing and moaning comes from firefighters while we don’t ever hear a peep out of electricians, fishermen, sanitation workers, and construction workers who are the real hardcore risk-takers in our society. It really is a cult in many ways, where fire has been given some sort of supernatural vengeful deity role that only the firefighter paladin’s personal sacrifice can appease. And really, if I hear the “everyone else is running out while we are running in” catchphrase one more time I think I’m going to puke.

michael
11 years ago

It’s a brotherhood, and sisterhood. Dan. That’s just the way it is. You will never understand it until you have lived it.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

No, I had plenty of experience with fraternities in college. I get it. The whole thing is just very juvenile to me. I choose my companions in life based on their character, not their choice of profession. And I would never defend somebody defrauding innocents the way your union does. I just don’t need to build a mythology around my profession in order to feel good about myself and what I do. But then I’m not a religious person either.

michael
11 years ago

We don’t build it, or talk about it, or even think about it. It simply is.
Other people do the talking. The press loves it when a firefighter dies, or saves a kid or does something extraordinary. Flames make great video, and everybody loves a hero, good for ratings. It’s not us doing the hero thing. And if you or anybody else enjoyed the same pride in their field I wouldn’t give it a second thought.
And again with the indecipherable gibberish. What is defrauding innocents supposed to men?

Tim
Tim
11 years ago

“Did it ever occur to you, Tim that budgeting 10 million or whatever the number for a 20 million dollar job is doomed to fail?”
Did it ever occur to you, Mike that waste and fraud are budget busters for the Providence fire dept? The city of Worcester with a larger population and twice the square miles spends millions less for fire services that Providence. Why is that Mike?

michael
11 years ago

No Tim it never did occur to me, because I’m out there doing the job, and know first hand what it entails, and how it is done. Providence handles EMS, Worcester does not.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“What is defrauding innocents supposed to men?”
Fraudulent disability pensions, demotions to get COLA, any other dirty tricks. I thought it was pretty clear.

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
11 years ago

Plenty of jobs like fishermen and truck drivers are far far more deadly than that done by our crybaby fireman.
The difference?
None of those more dangerous jobs give out six figure pensions at 40-43 years old. Plus compounded COLA’s. Plus free health care (Cadillac Plan) for life. Plus uniform allowance, etc.

triplerichard
triplerichard
11 years ago

Tommy, which of those dangerous jobs do you do? Sign up to replace one of the retiring firemen. I bet you would not even get past the first week of training, but I am sure that you think they don’t need training to do such a cakewalk job, I await your nasty and vindictive response.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

TripleR – why do you trot out the same old tired fallacy again and again? Whether Tommy “can” or is “willing” to or “should” become a fireman has nothing to do with whether the total compensation is reasonable or not. His argument is not that he wants the job or the compensation, his argument is that it’s too much of a burden on the taxpayers and the state pension system. I personally have no interest in being a firefighter, not because I’m a “scaredy cat” but because it would make no sense for me. Why can’t you address the issues?

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

3R-what do you do for a living?
I have a great deal of respect for firemen-the amount of danger may be somewhat less than fishermen,railroad workers,or some others,but one has to take into account the good they do also-and especially when EMT is included in the job.
You have a habit of sneering at people here-calling them out as “cowards”when you don’t know what they do or may have done.
We’re obviously not disagreeing about firemen,but don’t be so quick to assume others don’t have dirty or dangerous jobs.
I thought the nine years I spent working drug cases was kind of dangerous,particularly since I participated in executing over 800 search warrants during that period(actually that number is a low estimate)and I wonder how you’d enjoy hitting a door not knowing if you were going to catch a shotgun blast in your face.
And having to keep your discipline at the same time so as not to shoot a non-threatening person by mistake-operating under constant fear isn’t good for you.
If you have no fear,you better get another job because it’s a good way to get a fellow officer or yourself killed.
You just have to function through it.
It’s hard to explain.
Being under fire in a war is another experience where you really have to learn to react fast and put aside whatever you’re thinking-I was not a combat soldier,but I was under rocket/mortar fire enough times to react without having to decide what to do.People who didn’t learn that got hit.

glockster
glockster
11 years ago

I think it’s a little bold to compare fire fighters to nurses.
Truth is cops and fire fights are very much overpaid. I will agree that both are VERY dangerous jobs but neither requires much of an education. A registered nurse requires far more training PRIOR to landing a job. This isn’t the case with police and fire. Most of the training is funded by taxpayers.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Glockster-your thesis certainly is interesting- an RN,not to mention a doctor,dentist,etc.require much more formalized training than LE or friefighter jobs.
Fact is,though,that those jobs carry a heavy responsibility-saving lives for a firefighter or potentially taking lives for LE.
I don’t think it’s a competition-I would never resent a doctor or nurse making more than I did-I really don’t resent anyone doing something useful making more.Who cares?I thought I got paid enough and I liked doing a good job for the public.Frankly,I never applied for promotion after being made a senior Agent because I didn’t want to push paper or supervise anyone.My choice and no regrets.
What I do resent is political hangers on and parasites raking in the dough.
People like Bob Walsh and Pat Crowley and George Nee make big bucks for creating turmoil-and they pale in comparison(after all,they do represent actual workers)to complete scum like Peter Asen or Shana Kurland who represent those who just take,take,take,and never give back anything to society.
And where is Asen now?That Alinskyite POS is working for Gordon Fox.
I wonder why Fox has an open borders internationalist as his new right hand.

michael
11 years ago

Glockster, you think it bold to compare firefighter/EMT to a nurse? You should have been with me last night, when I treated a gunshot victim, worked a cardiac arrest code on a fifty three year old,, spent an hour prying two critically injured people out of their car-during which I started three IV’s administered morphine, epinephrine, narcan, atropine, and then treated a nice lady in her home with some some D-50. Oh, and then I got to look in the other car and see and declared dead a twenty-eight year old. If you actually cared enough to learn what we do, you would not make generalized statements that are not true.
Sorry you think I’m overpaid, fortunately, most people do not. And you don’t judge peoples opinions from the reactions here, this cheapskate party is no indication of real world experience.
Dan, last I looked, those demotions were vigorously opposed by the union, and ultimately rejected and give some proof about “fraudulent disability pensions,” with specifics if you can. Slander is not very nice.
A lot of people read this blog and very few comment. Thanks Glockster, Dan, and Tim, and a big thanks to Tommy Cranston and Mike Capelli for helping illustrate the irrational hatred firefighters and public sector unions face on a daily basis. You make it easy for me to tell our side of things, and while a lot of the readers don’t necessarily agree, at least they can read for themselves and make up their minds about which side they would prefer to support.

Rich
Rich
11 years ago

Now, Ive said and Michael have said the wo dont think our job is holier than thou. Its dangerous. period. As to our number in a ranking, I’d say if you have one of the 25 most dangerous jobs in the country out of 10’s of thousands of job descriptions, you deserve a fair wage, decent benefits and a means of earning a comfortable retirement. Those 12 jobs that are statistically more dangerous all deserve all of those, just as number 13, firefighting does. I know for a fact that I dont see many posts on here where firefighters themselves are heros or generally acting like we lil angels who float in a save the world. We are just people doing a job. Most of you probably could do it too. I think the difference seems to be that when one of us dies, we honor them. We put on big funerals and we play bagpipes and we lament their passing. We do this for the families and for ourselves. Maybe its naiive, maybe it seems holier than tho, but we arent doing it for you. We are doing it the familiy and for ourselves. Civilians make youtube videos honoring the profession, the sacrifice. They dont do it for fisherman and construction workers. I dont know why but they deserve it just as much. But because we honor our dead in an elaborate manner, does not mean we think we are heroes every day. I dont run around here posting Im a hero, I say the opposite so please, stop accusing us of thinking we are annointed by gods own hand to be the saviors of mankind. We are familiy men an women doing a job you pay us for. We just want what everyone deserves. A fair wage for… Read more »

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

Michael, you admitted that as recently as the Cianci administration 80%+ of your department was going out on fraudulent disability. That means that there are numerous pensioners right now receiving fraudulent disability pensions. What has your union done about this? Absolutely nothing. Somebody else’s problem now, as usual.
You misunderstood Glockster’s entire point. His reasoning was that nurses are compensated well because they pay out of pocket for the training and education required for their job. This doesn’t translate over to firefigther salaries because fire departments hire right out of high school and train them on the taxpayer’s dime. It has nothing to do with “the horror” you face on the job one way or the other.
“Sorry you think I’m overpaid, fortunately, most people do not.”
Actually, most people do. You’re out of touch. Look up some recent polling data – most people want public employee salaries cut before pretty much anything else in government.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

Rich, if you’re concerned about the image of the department and “policing your own,” then perhaps you could tell firefighter Tom Kenney to take it down a notch with his completely over-the-top rhetoric about the firefighting profession. Incidentally, said blog poster has a book out called “Working Class Hero” about his experiences as a firefighter.

michael
11 years ago

Depends on which poll you look at Dan. And I never said 80% are fraudulent. I never even said one was fraudulent. I said some “shenanigans” may have been going on, I have no proof, nor do you.

Andrew
Editor
11 years ago

I’d be a bit wary about using fatality and/or injury rates as the sole metric for “dangerousness” and especially as a metric for decision-making. By doing so, you can wind up with one of those our planes aren’t crashing, so why are we spending resources recruiting the best pilots or putting them through intensive training social-sciences “paradoxes”.
Also, I looked at one of the lists that had sanitation workers listed in the top 10. The example they gave was of a sanitation worker being killed while trying to repair his compacting apparatus. Not to speak ill of the dead, but I can’t help but feel that in a situation like this, there was some way to get the job done without death resulting, based on the information that was readily avaiable at the time (e.g. the power hasn’t been turned off). I don’t think the same may be said of many of the situations police, firemen, correctional officers suffer injury or death.
One of the lists had travelling salesmen listed as a dangerous occupation, because of transportation accidents. Does this mean that being a trust-fund benficiary who spends his days travelling the world is a dangerous occupation?
And Rich, we do put up memorials to fishermen. I don’t doubt that commerical fishing deserves it’s spot at the top of the list of dangerous occupations, given that the job involves directly confronting the unpredictability of nature.

michael
11 years ago

Well said, Andrew.
When some of the new guys get going about how difficult and dangerous our job is, I tell the story of my closest encounter with death. I was on a roof, three stories high. It was sunrise, the frost had yet to melt, slippery as hell. We had a job to do, we couldn’t wait for the sun to rise and start the melting. I grabbed my tools and got on the roof. Sure enough, I lost my footing and began to slide. I was three feet from the edge, and certain death when Divine Providence in the form of a raised roofing nail lodged into the flesh just below my knee, slowing me down enough to sink my fingernails into the plywood and stop. I stayed there, frozen and petrified for fifteen minutes until somebody threw me a rope from the peak.
I still have the scar. Working as a roofer is pretty darn dangerous.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Michael writes:
” I can retire after twenty years. The reason for that is because after twenty years as a firefighter, the ability to do the job diminishes. I’ve seen and done a lot. It is grueling.”
That is all fine, but why not hold your pension until you reach “retirement age”. In the same way that Social Security does?
“Working as a roofer is pretty darn dangerous.”
Yes it is, that is why ironworking and roofing are listed as more dangerous than Firefighting, which is 17th on the list of “Most dangerous jobs in America
“. Most roofers are injured in falling off a ladder, as opposed to the roof. Why weren’t you wearing a “roofer’s harness”? I do.

michael
11 years ago

“That is all fine, but why not hold your pension until you reach “retirement age”. In the same way that Social Security does?”
Because I belong to a union whose past members fought on our behalf for benefits such as a 50% pension after twenty years. It makes it easier to start a new career or business at the bottom at fifty years old. Benefits like this are unheard of in the private sector, which is why I continue to support labor.
“Most roofers are injured in falling off a ladder, as opposed to the roof. Why weren’t you wearing a “roofer’s harness”? I do.”
Because I was working for a non-union contractor who thought safety rules were “for pussies.” Safety harnesses were not available. Which is another reason I continue to support labor.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Micahel writes:
“That is all fine, but why not hold your pension until you reach “retirement age”. In the same way that Social Security does?”
Because I belong to a union whose past members fought on our behalf for benefits such as a 50% pension after twenty years. It makes it easier to start a new career or business at the bottom at fifty years old. Benefits like this are unheard of in the private sector, which is why I continue to support labor.”
I think “fought” is the incorrect verb. Bythe time pension plans came along the “fighting” was all done. I think the correct term would be “bargained”
“unheard of in the private sector, which is why I continue to support labor.”
This doesn’t make sense. You are not supporting “labor”, you are supporting “public sector benefits”.

michael
11 years ago

Semantics, Warrington. Come on now, you threw the slow curve and I hit it out of the park, it happens.

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.