Chariho Starts Down the Path Blazed by East Providence
In early 2009, finding itself at the end of its fiscal and negotiating rope, the East Providence School Committee “unilaterally” set the new terms of employment for teachers.
In due course, their decision was upheld by Superior Court.
Now the Chariho School Committee finds itself in a similar position with the teacher contract that expired five days ago. So, even as it prepared to enter into mediation with the NEA RI following upon eight months of negotiations, the Chariho School Committee
decided that until a new collective agreement has been signed, salary increases as well as other provisions in the expired contract — bonuses for longevity and for teachers with advanced degrees, for example — will be suspended.
“Other provisions” including specifically the step increases. Chariho teachers are not taking this sitting down.
The National Education Association-Chariho has filed a complaint with the Rhode Island Labor Board, accusing the Chariho School Committee of breaking the law in not honoring teachers’ scheduled salary increases. NEA-Chariho says it will also file a complaint with the Rhode Island Department of Education.
The old contract, which expired Aug. 31, contains a salary schedule of 12 “steps” or levels of pay. Salaries for 2012 for the district’s 342 teachers ranged from $38,564 at step one to $75,600 for teachers at the highest level, step 12.
On Aug. 21, after eight months of bargaining, the school committee decided that until a new collective agreement has been signed, salary increases as well as other provisions in the expired contract — bonuses for longevity and for teachers with advanced degrees, for example — will be suspended.
Chariho correctly points out that there is no contract in effect.
“That contract expired on Aug. 31, so there is no contract,” countered Chariho Superintendent Barry Ricci, who is also a member of the district’s negotiating team. “The school committee decided that everyone was going to freeze in place salary-wise, until the contract was settled.”