Thursday, August 23, 2007

Teachers in Middletown & Tiverton Play the Waiting Game

**Update in Tiverton.** Union leader Amy Mullen has released a letter that schools will start on time, although hope for a new contract is quickly fading. The School Committee is stalling talks and this will be the second year that Tiverton teachers have no new contract. Last yr. they were in a similar position & it was decided to roll-over the current contract. I am not sure exactly how that translated, but oftentimes it means that salaries are frozen. The Tiverton teachers are disappointed, to say the least, especially after "[coming] up with an alternative health care solution that will provide a significant decrease in health care costs to the School Department.
Having been through this myself all too often, it makes for strained relations and staff could well fall back on "working-to-contract" meaning that they refuse to do anything not specifically mentioned in their agreement.
Tiverton is facing money worries, and this is the future of all the towns/cities in our District. The town & the Union need to speak with each other.

Tiverton still has no contract. This is not a good sign.
When I first ret'd a few years ago I took a summer ceramics class at the Art Museum. There was a Ct. teacher there who spoke to me about R.I. who always seemed to have these pending strikes every year in some town/city. In Ct. they have State-mandated arbitration. She said that a lot of people in R.I. were against it & they had been in Ct. also. They feared that decisions would lean too heavily towards labor. Not true, she said. They were pretty fair & even-handed & decisions favored both sides - labor & management.
But we haven't gotten to that point yet. School committees are against it & that seems to be the bottom line.
The current process is not fair to school staff, students, & parents. And, more importantly, it often just does not work.
In Middletown we still have 14 staffers who have not yet been recalled, though they still may. School committees tend to rehirer fast than they did when I was laid off because they now have to pay Unemployment. And that's costly for them.
I still do not have the names of any of the Middletown layoffs, & if anyone would like to furnish them, I'll print them. This is the first time I've ever seen that names weren't made public. Why?
Some of these problems have to be attributed directly to the State Lege which seems to be playing a yearly game of chicken with the Guv regarding the funding of education & social services. This year the Lege played the part of the heavy, while in other years it was the Guv. And some years they actually played well together.
It may be noted that Rep. Rice voted to increase the education budget. Sen. Gibbs did, too, but I don't count that for much since in other years she has not.
**If someone in either town wants to keep me updated, like Ross Perot, I'm "all ears."
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