February 9, 2010

Reminder: Teacher Pink-Slips Don't Actually Mean Layoffs

Marc Comtois

Pink slips are flying at teachers in Woonsocket, East Providence and Lincoln and probably soon in your town, too. Two points:

1) State law dictates that all layoff notices be sent by March 1st. Why then and not later, say mid-May? Could it be that it is more politically beneficial for some to have teachers and parents upset at layoffs during the budget-making season of late winter/early spring rather than later.
2) Aside from the fact that laying off anywhere from 1/3 to 2/3s of all of the teachers in a district is frankly impractical (if not impossible), most teacher contracts cap the number of layoffs allowed each year. For instance, in Warwick (p.48 of document), only 40 layoff notices can be sent and only 20 teachers can actually let go in any given year.

Now, this isn't to say that laying off teachers is the way to go by any means. But so long as the teacher union leaders refuse to renegotiate their contracts, this is one of the only ways left to school committees and administrators to cut costs. (Often due to their own shortsightedness!).

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Though there are exceptions, labor unions generally would rather lose younger members (recall that everything is based upon seniority).

The union leadership is older, and would rather keep their pay and benefits.

The union bosses justify their existence to the rank and file by "negotiating" higher pay and benefits -- those who lose their jobs to maintain those don't vote in union elections when they're gone.

That's one reason why the UAW has lost hundreds of thousands of members over recent decades, even as it's maintained well above market pay and benefits for the (remaining) members.

Labor unions are essentially inter-generational Ponzi schemes.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at February 9, 2010 1:46 PM
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