January 22, 2009

East Providence Teachers' Union Denied

Justin Katz

The East Providence School Committee just won the day in court — at least to the extent that the judge denied the union's request for an injunction against the imposition of the School Committee's remuneration change.

Decision: PDF
School Committee Press Release: PDF

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Congratulations to the EP School Committee and the EP Taxpayers Association!

The only "irreparable harm" that been occurring is to property tax payers forced to cough up after school committees bent over to the greedy teachers unions, year after year, decade after decade.

Today was "one small step for EP, one giant leap for taxpaying-kind!"

Posted by: Tom W at January 22, 2009 7:04 PM

Needless to say, I am very pleased.

The legal standard for these types of requests is “irreparable harm,” so in that sense, this really should not have surprised anyone. However, this is Rhode Island, hence the unnecessary and prolonged drama.

Hopefully, this will nudge the union to come back to the table and offer real concessions, not make another bait and switch proposal. The school committee is absolutely serious about needing $3 million in concessions. Frankly, it needs more, but thought $3 million was proportional to the need.

Assuming the governor's supplemental budget request goes through as is, the city is going to be over $10 million in debt by the end of this fiscal year, if nothing changes. Payroll and benefits constitute the overwhelming majority of city and school expenses. Something has to give, otherwise, the next steps are going to be truly draconian.

PS Although the Projo story today about EP missed mentioning it, and focused mostly on the teachers which spoke, the East Bay newspapers story did not. The city council on Tuesday mentioned that they are going to be meeting with a bankruptcy attorney shortly regarding options available under Chapter 11. I want to make it clear that they have NOT said they are going to file for bankruptcy, because it truly is the last resort, but they need to know all the options available to them, and the potential ramifications of such an unprecedented action, should the need ultimately arise.

Posted by: Will at January 22, 2009 7:13 PM

Chapter 9 NOT Chapter 11.

Posted by: Mike at January 22, 2009 8:47 PM

It seems the court managed to release a draft of the opinion rather than the final version. See page 7 on which someone commented in the margin, "Maybe 'likelihood of success on the merits' should be discussed." The Judge ultimately rejected the suggestion, stating, "It would be an abuse of the Court's discretion to undertake that inquiry [regarding the merits of the charge] when original jurisdiction regarding that issue resides with the SLRB and no irreparable harm would result to the Union membership during the pendency of the matter before the SLRB."

Posted by: Jon at January 22, 2009 9:32 PM

Mike is absolutely correct that municipal bankruptcy comes under Chapter 9 of the IRS code. The discussion of Chapter 11 at the meeting had to do somewhat with which section such a filing would be done under, would it ever to occur, because the City of East Providence is "incorporated," meaning a corporation, and usually corporate bankruptcies are done under chapter 11. However, Chapter 9 does specifically cover municipalities.

I'm sure whoever they plan on consulting will point that out to them in more detail. I'm really hoping it doesn't get to that point.

Posted by: Will at January 22, 2009 10:41 PM

So it'll be 9/11 in EP?

Posted by: Tom W at January 23, 2009 6:57 AM

Collective bargaining is the bedrock of the American labor movement and the situation in East Providence is not a dispute over compensation or co-pay. East Providence teachers never asked for a raise and are more than willing to pay a percentage of their health care premiums. Imposition of a contract without "good faith" bargaining is the question at hand. East Providence teachers are willing to make concessions but the school committe is unwilling to bargain. Unions have not crippled the American economy. They make up only 18% of the American workforce. Corporate greed, de-regulation, supply side nonsense, and a 1 trillion dollar war in Iraq have contributed to the worst economy in 80 years. Reagan revolution my ass. You conservative nut bags are the problem not the solution.

Posted by: veritas at January 28, 2009 1:15 AM

The fiscal problems within the School Committee and City Council's lack of ability to manage money. They have talked for over a year about consilidating services, and have not acted. HR Director Barham and City Manager Brown testified that the School Committee knowingly has run deficits since 2000, which was $219,131 until 2008, estimated $4.5 million. The deficit is the result of ten years of ignornace. Teachers are the current scapegoat, not the problem. The test scores are rising. Try the truth for a change.

Posted by: Katherine at January 29, 2009 7:40 PM
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