August 21, 2007

Lack of Strikes Would Be No Surprise

Justin Katz

According to 7 to 7, none of the teachers' unions in the eight districts that are currently without (or soon to be without) contracts are planning to strike:

With Rhode Island schools scheduled to start opening next week, teacher unions in eight districts have not signed new contracts -- including Providence, the state’s largest district, with 26,000 students and 2,100 teachers.

Contracts in Burrillville, East Greenwich, Exeter-West Greenwich, New Shoreham, Providence and Tiverton are due to expire Aug. 31. Teacher contracts in Jamestown and the Ponaganset regional district shared by Foster and Glocester expired June 30. ...

So far, no district is threatening to strike. Representatives of the state’s two teacher unions, the National Education Association of Rhode Island and Rhode Island Federation of Teachers, say they think teachers will report to work as usual, even if a new contract is not in place by the time school starts, although they emphasized that decision is up to individual districts.

Putting aside the fact that teacher strikes are illegal, with the state flat-funding schools and the public mood increasingly hostile to the status quo, it would be unwise to pick highly visible fights, just now. Of course, I can't speak to the possibility that school committees aren't pressing this negotiating advantage hard enough.

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Striking is an outdated tactic - I once belonged to a union that went 4 1/2 years without a contract, but striking was never seriously considered. A public relations strategy, with informational picketing when appropriate (while continuing to do the professional job you were hired for, particularly in the teachers' case), is the best way to move talks forward.

Posted by: rhody at August 21, 2007 11:10 AM

What we really need to do is move the end of these contracts to JUNE instead of days before school starts.

Posted by: Greg at August 21, 2007 11:18 AM

The good thing about contractors is that you don't have to pay them all those expensive benefits.

No wonder they don't want a contract...


Posted by: Marty at August 21, 2007 9:15 PM
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