October 28, 2008

Unionists Like the Shadows

Justin Katz

The shadow that unions cast over our education system never ceases to sting:

[East Providence's] current contract with its teachers expires on Friday, and talks are at a deadlock. The sides can't agree on ground rules and the sticking point is the School Committee's demand that the bargaining be done in public.

"The union representatives say open negotiations will cause 'grandstanding' and 'political maneuvering,'" City Councilman Robert Cusack said last week.

Well, yeah. That's the point. Open negotiations would enable the public to offset the grandstanding and political maneuvering at which the unions are so proficient. In other words, not only do the unions involve teachers in the bullying of local communities, but they put them in the position of preferring that the other side not be able to fight back — or even to know what's going on.

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Being from East Providence (as well as a K-12 public school attendee from there), I have a direct stake in the outcome of the negotiations. Keep in mind that this single teachers' contract accounts for over half of all city expenditures. We've facing an approximately $4 million dollar current year deficit, and a $9 million cumulative deficit, with no real ability to remedy the situation, without directly dealing with out of control personnel costs. We need to dramatically cut spending, not just nibble around the edges.

We have about 500 teachers in the city, spending approximately $100,000 for each of them in salary and various benefits. That's the cost each, not what they actually "take home," although their take home pay is quite substantial. Currently, they pay NOTHING towards their health insurance, and get a buyback of about $5100 for not taking the free insurance. It's outrageous.

What shouldn't be lost here, is what is actually being asked for. The school committee is asking that one of the following be allowed: that the negotiations be held in a public forum, that 1 or 2 members of the media be allowed to observe and report, or that a transcript be made available to the public. We want openness and transparency, not business as usual. It's exactly what's bankrupting our city. Make no mistake about it, that's exactly where out city is heading (the plus side, is then we can have all the union contracts negated by the courts), but let's not go there just yet.

What we don't want, is what too often happens: the taxpayers of East Providence (and other towns) getting whacked by professional negotiators behind closed doors, only to find out what they're getting stuck with until it is too late to do anything about it.

We've been bamboozled and bullied far too many times before. It's time to take a stand for the taxpayers, even if it might lead to a strike. Let them strike. In fact, I'm insisting on it. Please. P-A-T-C-O, P-A-T-C-O...

Posted by: Will at October 28, 2008 7:17 PM

For the 73rd time-the solution:

1. Seperation of School and State as the Founders envisioned. Get the kids OUT of the hands of the communist, atheist, pedophile infested (just google the words "teacher sentenced" and prepare yourself to be sickened) teacher unions.
2. Vouchers go to LEGAL parents for their kids. Illegal parents-go back to Tacoland.
3. Vouchers go up each year for COLA's and not a penny more.
4. No teacher pensions, health care or benefits put on the backs of the taxpayers. No Caroulo act.

"When school children start paying union dues, that 's when I'll start representing the interests of school children"
Albert Shanker

Posted by: Mike at October 28, 2008 9:24 PM

>>We have about 500 teachers in the city, spending approximately $100,000 for each of them in salary and various benefits. That's the cost each, not what they actually "take home," although their take home pay is quite substantial

For 181 contractual 6.5 hour days (not all of which are actually spent in the classroom), or about 1177 hours per year / about $85 per hour.

Compared to about 2000 hours per year for the average worker.

Which at $85 per hour means that EP teachers total compensation is equivalent to $170,000 per year for a full time worker.

All this and tenure and a pension too!

As "Jeff Spicoli" said in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High": "RIGHTEOUS BUCKS!"

Posted by: Tom W at October 28, 2008 10:14 PM


Which is it ... are the teacher unions seeking to publicly grandstand or stay in the shadows.
The title of your piece is Unionists Like the Shadows. But the last few lines seem to contadict: Open negotiations would enable the public to offset the grandstanding and political maneuvering at which the unions are so proficient.

You need to clear up your writing and for good measure the thought behind it.

Also I notice that Mike has attempted to follow up yesterday's inflammatory comments with more of the same. I truly hope there's help out there for the person who signs these comments.

I would pay you to stay away from the classroom.

You said all you want is openess and transparency. Fine. What about your Governor taking the lead in that regard and sharing his finances with the public. Then we could judge if the special interest he seems to favor is not his own.

Posted by: Phil at October 29, 2008 8:03 AM

Everything I say is either fact based-just google the words "teacher sentenced" for yourself- or a valid, usually majoritarian opinion-such as NOT supporting the children of illegal aliens.
If you want inflamattory I suggest you visit the fast food millionaire's son's blog where one of his favorite posters-WOW-regularly calls for burning Christians alive and has said he wants to see Joe Bernstein's name on a tombstone. Or the rantings of the now missing "Bobby O" who bragged about using violence to force dissidents to leave the state and regularly stated he wanted to kidnap and assault the Governor's wife.

Posted by: Mike at October 29, 2008 8:49 AM

Stop playing stupid Phil. Teacher unions grandstand in public about the contract negotiations, especially when they are not getting what they want. The negotiations themselves, as you must know, have always been secret. Justin seemed pretty darn clear to the rest of us.

Teacher unions would never want the nonsense and illogic that they use during closed negotiations to become public. The public would catch on pretty quickly to their absurd demands and most of the community support they now enjoy would disappear.

Posted by: Frank at October 29, 2008 9:12 AM

"Unionists Like the Shadows"

Except when it comes to voting on whether a shop should unionize. Then it should be all out in the open.

(Shame on Senator Obama for supporting card checks, by the way.)

Posted by: Moniq at October 29, 2008 2:37 PM

Re-the missing braggart "Bobby O". Most opinions seem to be of the sort expressed in the Dixie Chicks song "Goodbye Earl":

"Well the weeks went by and
Spring turned to Summer
And Summer faded into Fall
And it turns out he was a missing person
who nobody missed at all"

Posted by: Mike at October 29, 2008 9:15 PM
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