“It’s an abuse of power”

“It’s an abuse of power,” said Frank Flynn, President of the RI Federation of Teachers (RIFT?).
He’s referring to a situation in Woonsocket where the school committee gave notice to all school department employees that they could be laid off this year, similar to what Providence did last year.
Now, I agree that it is silly to do this to 100% of your workforce. We all know that Woonsocket will have schools next year and they will need teachers, so why all of them? There is a minimum they will need, so why not only notify the remainder?
That being said, I find the Flynn’s comment pretty funny. Why is it that when the unions exercise their rights to the full extent of the law, they’re just “playing by the rules” but when the school committee does the same, “it’s an abuse of power”?
What makes this even more egregious is Flynn and others, like Deborah Gist don’t like the March 1 deadline for these notices. They complain about how it hurts the morale of the teachers and causes so much stress right in the middle of the school year. However, it was the teachers’ unions who requested this date so the affected teachers could have plenty of time to figure out how to go forward and start looking for a new job.
And, it could have been prevented.
Projo writer Jennifer Jordan also explains:

Last year, teachers’ unions lobbied for the General Assembly to pass binding arbitration for teachers, saying if they gained that power, the notification deadline could be moved back. The Senate passed the measure, but it failed in the House and the deadline remained March 1

The part that gets me is “could be moved back”. What? Does the General Assembly need the unions’ approval to pass a law? Jordan implies that this stress that the Woonsocket teachers are now feeling could have been resolved, but their own union heads prevented that from happening? Teachers, were you aware of this? Are the teachers’ union lobbyists always working for the best interests of their members at the State House? In this instance, it sounds like that answer is “no”.

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Dan
Dan
12 years ago

You have to give credit where credit is due. The unions are very skilled at creating problems and then shifting the blame to others to open the door for advantageous “solutions.” If teachers were given reasonable compensation and merit-based promotions, and if the pension system was solvent and the schools were dong well, then none of the union leadership would have jobs left, now would they? I don’t see the “unique” skill sets of Crowley, Liedecker, Rainone and the like being in very high demand to organizations that have to voluntarily transact with others.

Joseph Fazio
Joseph Fazio
12 years ago

I’m just wondering who you are going to get to teach? The current atmosphere in RI is one where the problems of poor parenting, lack of a stable homes, teen pregnancy, and the inflated sense of self worth have created legions of children that do not want an education. Hence the battle cry of “blame the the teachers” is the most convenient thing to do. Have you ever taught? Volunteered in an inner school? Spent time with a teacher in Providence, Woonsocket, or Central Falls. Until you do I think you are just painting with the same broad brush as every other near sighted person in this state is doing. I know of many first year teachers that are leaving for other occupations. Young teachers hear what the people are saying, and the lack of support in the classroom, and the lack of professional courtesy out in public. Don’t blame unions for instinctively protecting the membership. If I were you I would say…thank goodness the NEA isn’t the Teamsters. I’m sure the vocal critics would hate to find a dozen truckers outside their nice homes with picket signs.

Dan
Dan
12 years ago

Have you ever taught? Volunteered in an inner school? Spent time with a teacher in Providence, Woonsocket, or Central Falls.

Yes, yes, and yes.

If I were you I would say…thank goodness the NEA isn’t the Teamsters. I’m sure the vocal critics would hate to find a dozen truckers outside their nice homes with picket signs.

Is this a joke? NEARI is one of the most, if not the most, radical unions in the state and works very hard at maintaining that image. At least one of their union leaders worked for the teamsters before joining and has been arrested for radical protests. Another was recently convicted of cyberstalking a state representative and was promoted as a result. A third was recently caught on tape threatening a politician in a courthouse. On and on and on. As for “taking it to the enemy,” union-unfriendly RI politicians have long received disturbing anonymous labor-related letters in the mail and offensive signs have appeared on their lawns overnight. Nothing can be proven, of course, but everyone knows who’s behind it – they make sure of that.

Dan
Dan
12 years ago

Nobody is “blaming the teachers,” by the way. This is a total mischaracterization. On the other hand, many rightfully blame the unions for opposing useful reform, opposing school choice, creating obstacles for removing poor teachers and rewarding good teachers, and perpetuating all of the wrong incentives in the schools.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
12 years ago

Joe,
If teachers are powerless to be effective, just why are we paying them as though they are?
Sounds to me like they should be paid baby-sitter wages if what you say is true.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz
12 years ago

I’ve said before, if I were a superintendent or school committee member, I would issue 100% layoff notices (or warnings of potential notices of possible layoffs) every single year. After year one, everybody would understand the significance (or lack thereof) of the move.
If desirable, I would then offer a second round of notices to those who really, seriously might not have a job the next school year.

DavidS
DavidS
12 years ago

I’ve said before, if I were a superintendent or school committee member, I would issue 100% layoff notices (or warnings of potential notices of possible layoffs) every single year. After year one, everybody would understand the significance (or lack thereof) of the move.
If desirable, I would then offer a second round of notices to those who really, seriously might not have a job the next school year.
Posted by Justin Katz at February 25, 2012 2:43 PM OH!!
IF I WERE KING!! OH HOW GOOD IT WOULD BE!! JUST AND FAIR TOO!! YOU CAN COUNT ON THAT!! Too bad we have this bullshit system of government. By the way Justin, good luck and good wishes to you regarding your new career.

Patrick
Patrick
12 years ago

Joseph, first, thanks for visiting Anchor Rising and commenting.
I think the others have touched on a few of your points, but I do wonder if your comment was seriously directed at my post or was just some other general point you’re trying to make. Can you point out where I blamed the teachers for anything? It seems as though you just wanted to rant about something that bugs you and found the first post with the word “teacher” in it and fired it off.
Next, your question about whether I have ever taught (I have) and whether I have ever volunteered in an inner city school (I have not). But what does that matter. Are you a sports fan at all? If you are, have you ever criticized them? Have you played a single day in Major League Baseball or the NFL? Or have you ever criticized any RI governor? Have you been governor for a single day? Get my point? You don’t necessarily need to have walked a mile in someone’s shoes to critique things about their performance. However again, I didn’t even critique the performance of the teachers.
Finally, you wrote: “Don’t blame unions for instinctively protecting the membership.” This one I find the most surprising. Did you read what I wrote? It is the exact OPPOSITE of what my post was about. The post indicates that the union did NOT protect the membership, instead it did the opposite. Ask the teachers in Woonsocket if they’re happy about their pre-March 1 notices. It’s your union that prevented that law from being changed.
Thanks Joseph, I’d love to hear a response from you.

Contrarian View
Contrarian View
11 years ago

David S, with his rabid, drooling sneer, demonstrates the accuracy of Patrick’s original post.
There was nothing in Justin’s post about being “king”, only a proper use of the management authority given to the superintendent by statute.
DavidS loves it when government uses (and abuses) its power to advance his political ideas, but can’t stand it when others do the same.

Max D
Max D
11 years ago

Patrick,
You just wasted too many minutes responding to a comment that is an NEA canned speech on blog after blog. None of Joseph’s points, which he spews whenever possible, had any relevancy to your post. As far as his comparison of the NEA to the Teamsters, so we should be happy with the thuggery we’ve seen because it could be worse? Is that supposed to be a positive spin on thuggery from a person of higher education?
“I’m sure the vocal critics would hate to find a dozen truckers outside their nice homes with picket signs.”
Apparently he also believes freedom of speech shouldn’t come without penalty…and he is teaching our kids?

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

Patrick, “he jests at scars, that never felt a wound” Laverty – Shakespeare’s nice way of saying you don’t have any idea of what you are talking about.
It’s an abuse of power when you dictate a 100% layoff. If you can’t see that, you are beyond the reach of reason.
You’ll have to show me how a school committee action handing out mass punishment is equivalent to a union calling for a strike to protest specific grievances.
OldTimeLefty

Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

OTL, lemme help you with your selective reading skills:
“Now, I agree that it is silly to do this to 100% of your workforce.”
-me, in the post above.
However, the unions advocated for this law and the town is merely playing by it. It’s not “abuse” if it’s legal.
“You’ll have to show me how a school committee action handing out mass punishment”
Punishment? No one ever said anything about punishment. This is merely the school covering themselves within the law. If they didn’t notify people or didn’t notify enough, you know the union lawyers would be all over it. It doesn’t work both ways.
” is equivalent to a union calling for a strike to protest specific grievances.”
Wrong, wrong, wrong. One is within the law and the latter is not.
And while we’re quoting Shakespeare:
“The [OTL] doth protest too much, methinks.”

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

“I’m just wondering who you are going to get to teach?”
That’s a good question from Joseph Fazio. Who would want to be fired each year even if the mass firings are part of the new strategies by management. Patrick calls this “silly”. Gist calls it “disruptive”. I have no idea what Justin calls it even though it sounds as if he endorses it. I would call it “an abuse of power” as did Frank Flynn of RIFT. (not the NEA)If you were beginning to pay a mortgage on a home along with college loans how long would you want to be subject to a management policy that would fire you without cause because it can. You would likely look at other opportunities that seem more stable. Who would remain and what might the morale be of those who do stick it out?
For those who want more management rights for school committees and mayors, is this the way you wish to see them exercised. Firing people for no reason. That sounds like something Mitt Romney would do.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

Phil – You’re either missing the point of Patrick’s post or deliberately distorting (most likely you are with a teachers union since your “company” is fake and you exclusively post in these threads). These boards don’t faux-fire all the teachers every year for laughs or as a scare tactic. It is done out of practical necessity because of early notification requirements pushed by the unions. The fact is that they don’t know in March which teachers will actually have to be let go, so they notify everybody to preserve their options later. If they didn’t notify in March, the unions would waste no time challenging the layoffs on that basis. The management, teachers, and most of the public know how it works at this point, so why are you having such a difficult time with it? If the unions agree to push back the notification requirement, these mass layoff notices will end.

Contrarian View
Contrarian View
11 years ago

Dan, how naive of you to think that anything Phil posts is in good faith.

Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

“If the unions agree to push back the notification requirement, these mass layoff notices will end.”
And therein lies another problem. The Assembly was looking to do that last year but the very same unions opposed the move, so it is actually people like Flynn who helped cause this stress for all the Woonsocket teachers. All 600 who got a pink slip should be calling the RIFT offices and ask why the bill didn’t pass last year. They should call their local Reps and Senators and ask why it didn’t pass. If the date is changed, many fewer teachers will get the notices and much less chaos will ensue.
But this is how the union management wanted it.

Ray L
Ray L
11 years ago

Hey RI-ers wake up … it wasn’t the teachers in the classroom that caused our educational problems; it was the teachers,union officials,and politicians in the state legislature who passed self serving laws under the premise “its for the children”.
Well, just look at how those laws are helping our kids receive a “quality education;” the results, I believe, are insulting to all RI taxpayers.
Fixing this problem dosn’t begin with laying off teachers. It begins with fixing the root cause of the problem … In RI a population of One Million people, there are simply too many school districts; cities, towns and municipalities can no longer support their growing school budgets. Compounding the school problems are their “closed shop” unions; teachers (and employees of cities, towns and municipalities) should have the right to pay or not pay union dues.
No one said it would be easy but here’s a thought for all Ri-ers and RI legislators … change to county government, after all there are 5 defined counties in RI, and within those defined county boundaries are our 39 cities and towns … so no one has to change their name or their boundaries. The biggest change here … we go from 37 school districts to just 5.
County Government is how many US cities, towns and municipalities “pool” resources to provide taxpayers with police, fire, school and other local services.

Max D
Max D
11 years ago

Fazio, OTL, and Phil are like flopping soccer players when they get bumped and fall to the ground writhing in pain as if they’ve been mortally wounded. The unions wanted this date because it falls long before municipalities have a clear picture of their budgetary needs for the upcoming fiscal year. It’s protection from the budget hearings and financial town meetings where sweeping cuts can occur.
Punishment??? As usual OTL is talking hyperbole. His next line will be, “You just don’t get it.” That’s because there is no punishment. This is another RIFT fraud perpetrated on the taxpayer in an effort to portray the teachers as under attack.

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