January 13, 2009

What We're Up Against

Justin Katz

So parking has already spilled over to the supermarket parking lot across the street, and it was clear from conversation that the women standing at the crosswalk with me were teachers from another district. As we crossed, the policeman directing traffic told them to "be loud — my wife is a teacher." (There's a six-figure household.)

Barely had I sat down when the unionist who had complained to me in the men's room of driving down from Boston for a recent Tiverton School Committee meeting accosted me, suggesting that I "get a real job — you loser." I tried to be friendly, but he didn't seem interested. Subsequently, he walked around pointing me out to the other side.

Fun, fun.


At least there are some good guys here, some wearing t-shirts that read: "Teachers and Union Reps BIG Difference."

ADDENDUM (7:36 p.m.):

The teachers are screaming like kids at a rock concert for the benefit of a television camera. This should be required viewing for all citizens of the state.

ADDENDUM 7:39 p.m.:

It's sort of that old comic book cliché of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, isn't it? There simply is no money, and yet, one out of six Rhode Islanders is being prodded by union organizations to get out and demonstrate against necessary adjustments.

Do they not understand what is happening, or do they not care? (Or does their union organization strive to keep them misinformed and maleable?)

ADDENDUM 7:44 p.m.:

I saw Pat Crowley strolling up the aisle along which I'm sitting, and I prepared myself to shake his hand, should we make eye contact. A friendly quip came to mind for the moment after skin contact: "See, reality didn't explode." Instead, he kept his shaking hand in his pocket and handed me a business card with the following quotation from a Boston Globe letter:

Why are we the pigs? The public employees I know are social workers who care for abused and neglected children. Or they work with mentally ill and mentally retarded adults and adolescents. They find homes for the homeless. They keep the roads repaired and clean. They open and close the bridges. They run the 911 emergency system. They teach our children. They keep the city and state hospital systems working. They run state prisons. Public employees are police officers and firefighters. Public employees help keep you healthy and safe.

But nobody disputes any of this. We who wish reform have a variety of roles that benefit society. Were I in a poetic mood, I'd list some of the more sympathetic among private sector jobs, but you can certainly come up with them yourself. Rhode Island simply cannot afford to keep leading with its heart, because those people who do all those wonderful things — along with coaxing the system to pad their wallets — are pulling the entire state into the quicksand.

ADDENDUM 7:56 p.m.:

True to the usual maturity of these audiences, the teachers booed as the school committee walked toward the stage — one of them a young lady who's probably a student.

ADDENDUM 8:02 p.m.:

Vicious "boos" as Anthony Carcieri walks in room. Unbelievable. And intended to intimidate.

ADDENDUM 8:05 p.m.:

Boos and heckling as soon as Committee Chairman Carcieri tried to speak. I cannot believe adults think it's appropriate to behave like this.

ADDENDUM 8:08 p.m.:

Even the Pledge of Allegiance became a bit of protest theater in their hands.

ADDENDUM 8:16p.m.:

Despite quips and harangues from the audience, the school committee is just moving forward with the agenda.

Pay attention, teachers: this is what courage looks like.

ADDENDUM 8:19p.m.:

As a few teachers continue to shout out, and the rejoinders from the crowd for them to "shut up" increase, I do wonder whether any of the teachers are embarassed that they are asked to join these mobs. Or did those teachers decline to come out tonight?

ADDENDUM 8:23p.m.:

Mr. Carcieri has skipped an item or two on the agenda, requiring others at the table to correct him. There have been a couple of snickers from the crowd, but one really must appreciate the anxiety that his position engenders, just now — even those who disagree, I would think.

ADDENDUM 8:31 p.m.:

During a review of a district-wide analysis, an administrator mentioned a couple of instances in which teachers are volunteering time and working after hours. The teachers cheered, as well they should.

They're also cheering as she describes that some deficiencies aren't the teachers, but the supplies and tools that the district provides. As I'll be pointing out in a graph in the near future, a significant reason for that development is that more and more of RI districts' money has been going to pay teachers' salaries and benefits.

ADDENDUM 8:36p.m.:

Some heckles to "speak up" and "use the microphone." A woman called out, "Scared?" If she were closer to me, I might have called out in return: "Wouldn't you be."

Perhaps the most astonishing thing, coming from teachers, is the utter lack of empathy that they exhibit. I imagine they do better with the students, but it's disconcerting to realize that they believe school committee members to be The Enemy, and therefore undeserving of some basic respect.

ADDENDUM 8:40 p.m.:

A mention of an anti-bullying program brought what I'd describe as cackles from the audience. It's like a movie set in Medieval times.

Now their screaming "out door voice." Really.

ADDENDUM 8:43 p.m.:

It's a good thing that we've gotten to the public comment section. I don't think the audience could stand to sit still much longer.

ADDENDUM 8:46 p.m.:

Local union head Valerie Lawson wants them to accept the arbitration. "Let the teachers get back to teaching the students."

You mean they're not?

ADDENDUM 8:49 p.m.:

Comments from the crowd around me suggest that the teachers intend to run the clock.

One just gave a reasonable speech and said that she "has no problem not getting a raise for the next five years" if the school would admit the problems.

The next speaker got up and introduced himself as a taxpayer. He was jeered.

ADDENDUM 8:53 p.m.:

The union is declaring "point of order" that the speaker is bringing up issues that aren't on the agenda. Heckle. Heckle. Jeer. Jeer.

But this isn't an agenda item. It's just a statement from an interested member of the public.

The school committee declared that the meeting is getting out of hand and called it a night.

ADDENDUM 8:58 p.m.:

Very loud boos as the school committee prepares to leave.

Any teachers who read this, I implore you: Take a moment to consider why it is reasonable for these town officials to be nervous. Think of the environment that you create at these meetings — not just this one, but every big and small town in the state. Is this who you want to be?

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

I just can't believe that such unprofessional, greedy people have anything at all to do with children. Frightening.

Posted by: thinkaboutit at January 13, 2009 7:45 PM

the policeman directing traffic told them to "be loud — my wife is a teacher." (There's a six-figure household.)

Actually, with benefits, they are EACH good for six figures.

"get a real job — you loser."
She's right. You are a loser. All of us not on the state tit are losers.

Now, we'll you recognize that the ONLY answer is the complete dismantlement of the "public" schools?
Both K-12 and college.

Posted by: Mike at January 13, 2009 7:54 PM

Maybe it would just be better to give them all they want and just have the city go bankrupt?

Posted by: thinkaboutit at January 13, 2009 7:58 PM

Hi , I don't believe in your ideals, but thanks for the play by play. I wanted to be there tonight but couldn't make it. Thanks again.

Posted by: jeff at January 13, 2009 8:13 PM

>>"See, reality didn't explode."<<

Yeah, but your hand might've fallen off afterward.

Posted by: pitcher at January 13, 2009 8:18 PM

So the "professionals" are out behaving "professionally" eh?

I suppose that this is an example of that storied "work," that we are supposed to be so impressed by, that they claim to do "after school" - which closes at 2:00 p.m.

Posted by: Tom W at January 13, 2009 8:33 PM

I don't think that anyone would be happy with a pay cut near $6000 per year.

Posted by: Phil at January 13, 2009 8:38 PM

Hey Phil,

#1 - what was their pay INCREASE the last 3 years?

#2 - in case you weren't aware, most people are happy to have a job these days. The nation has the highest unemployment since the end of WWII. RI's unemployment far exceeds the nations. Dig your head out of the sand and get real. The Union orgy is over. And we don't give a rat's whether they like it or not.

#3 - And for the chicken-crap whiners that don't like it, they are more than FREE to go get a job elsewhere.

For once, the Union is not negotiating against a bunch of hand-wringing "Do it for the Children" dim-wits. Poor Bow W. & Co. ...they aren't used to going up against common sense. Too bad so sad.

Posted by: George Elbow at January 13, 2009 9:06 PM

>>I don't think that anyone would be happy with a pay cut near $6000 per year.>>

Maybe not, but it's better than a 100% pay cut, which is the other option for some.

Posted by: pitcher at January 13, 2009 9:07 PM

>>I don't think that anyone would be happy with a pay cut near $6000 per year.

Perhaps not.

But then again, if I had:

1) a part-time job paying me a six-figure package of pay and benefits; AND

2) the prospect of a lifetime pension @ 75% of my highest consecutive three years' salary plus 3% COLA's; AND no minimum retirement age to start collecting if I was hired before 1995; AND

3) Taxpayers subsidized retiree healthcare (fully paid for by taxpayers in some districts); AND

4) Seniority and tenure, meaning that I didn't have to worry about doing a good job, or even a mediocre job and still maintain my employment; AND

5) I was doing so in an increasingly poor state, most of whose taxpayers have no pension whatsoever, and for increasing numbers will never be able to retire, and in which many of those now retired are losing their homes because they can't afford the property taxes necessary to pay MY compensation package, AND

6) Was doing so in a state whose public education system is ranked well below average in the United States, which itself is ranked well below average compared to other industrialized countries, THEN

I'd count my blessings and lay low - not go out in public, behave like English soccer fans and prove to the world that me and my peers are not professionals, but spoiled, greedy pigs!

Posted by: Tom W at January 13, 2009 9:07 PM

Does EP not have a police force to maintain order at public meetings?

If a multitude of angry taxpayers showed up and acted in this manner, I'm rather certain that they would be removed for "Disturbing the Peace" or "Disorderly Conduct"

-Bri in NC

Posted by: Bri in NC at January 13, 2009 9:07 PM

No kidding Phil, ya think? Pay cuts happen all the time in every community across the country. Some even lose their job, never mind the 6 Gs! Yet how many get to behave this badly in public in protest?

I'd like to think that the teachers are earning their pay cut right now by losing the respect of their fellow citizens and shedding the label of "professional" that clearly does not apply to many of the rank and file.

Posted by: Frank at January 13, 2009 9:08 PM

No kidding Phil, ya think? Pay cuts happen all the time in every community across the country. Some even lose their job, never mind the 6 Gs! Yet how many get to behave this badly in public in protest?

I'd like to think that the teachers are earning their pay cut right now by losing the respect of their fellow citizens and shedding the label of "professional" that clearly does not apply to many of the rank and file.

Posted by: Frank at January 13, 2009 9:09 PM

Tell Pat "I've never had a real job a day in my Life" Crowley we thank his Union hacks for all the wonderful things they do by giving them a paycheck each week.

Then tell him to quit his whining, to quit with the persecution complex and instruct his mindless flock to start paying their fair share of their Healthcare and Pension costs.

Posted by: George Elbow at January 13, 2009 9:14 PM

Some other comments:

"During a review of a district-wide analysis, an administrator mentioned a couple of instances in which teachers are volunteering time and working after hours."

Oh spare me. Guess what I'm doing right now? Working. I work 7:30 to 4:30 every day, then head home to be with my family and then after my kid is asleep, I pick up where I left off. Why? Because I'm a professional, I'm on salary, and there's a job that needs to get done. And I'm not in any union. I do it out of self-pride and professionalism. So save me the "we work extra time for no extra money". Yeah, that's called being a professional on salary.

>>A woman called out, "Scared?">>

Probably the same one who locks her car doors when she's driving around after dark and won't answer door bell after dark. Why? Because she's scared and doesn't have a mob around her to protect her. Gotta love the mob mentality. I think what people need to do if there is another of these big meetings is get the students there too. Let these teachers sit side by side with their students and see how the teachers act. I think that will greatly cut down on the sniffly, pity-filled letters to the editor from 15 year olds about how their favorite teacher is getting screwed.

>>it's disconcerting to realize that they believe school committee members to be The Enemy, and therefore undeserving of some basic respect.<<

Not only that, but the School Committee is their supervisor and their employer. Who else can treat their employer the way those people did tonight and have zero repercussions? Disgusting.

Posted by: pitcher at January 13, 2009 9:16 PM

I hope that somebody from "our side" - i.e., those of us who work in the real world and on a net basis pay taxes rather than consume taxes - videotaped this meeting.

I couldn't attend, but would sure love to watch the YouTube of "'Professionals' Gone Wild" and revel in the "professionalism" of Pat Crowley's flock of sheep.

Posted by: Tom W at January 13, 2009 9:22 PM

As someone that periodically gets scolded over my "tone" with respect to Union hacks, I would respectfully ask that the next time I am to be scolded, that the scolder please first recall the "tone" of this meeting and ask themselves if the "leaders" of this mob of idiots (e.g. NEA Assist. Director Patrick Crowley) did anything to help the "tone". Did Bob Walsh stand up and implore his flock to behave professionally? Hmmmmm.

Indeed, the Union and the "leadership" set the "tone" long ago and to play footsy with these morons is a fool's game.

Posted by: George Elbow at January 13, 2009 9:29 PM

Touché Mr. Elbow!

Posted by: Tom W at January 13, 2009 9:34 PM

All I can say is unreal. I had to make concessions this year and am happy to do so to 1) ensure I have a job to go to, and 2) to ensure my employer sticks around because I like my job.

Stick with the me first attitude and you'll be sorry in the end. Concessions NEED to be made.

Posted by: Steve at January 13, 2009 9:40 PM

I work in the real world & in my job we were told months ago that nobody would be getting raises this year (not even a cost of living increase) due to budgetary issues. My husband also works in the real world; we have our medical insurance through his job & the co-pays have gone up 10% this year. Then again, neither of us are EP public school teachers; we're not worthy! They are clearly delusional that we, the residents of EP, have money trees growing in our backyards!

If either of us pulled the kind of unprofessional crap at our places of employment that happened at the meeting tonight we'd be out of a job. What part of "there is no more money" do they not understand? Screaming insults at the taxpayers & the school committee who have no more to give will not make you friends!

Posted by: Stephanie at January 13, 2009 10:01 PM

I also find it interesting that the head coward Pat Crowley didn't also liveblog this event. I guess it's just not as much fun to blog "BOOOOO!" and "wow, go Sally go, let 'em have it!"

Posted by: pitcher at January 13, 2009 10:04 PM


The point is to be better. If we let them set the tone, then we take their behavior off the table as an issue.

This isn't a wrestling match — or even a shouting match. It's a battle of ideas... and of presentation. Neither side will subdue the other, but third parties will judge between them, and those within the union ranks who see a disconnect between the behavior that they demand of their students during class and during assemblies need to see more maturity in those of us who are presenting arguments that they're understandably inclined to resist.

Posted by: Justin Katz at January 13, 2009 10:05 PM

Thanks to the Anchor Rising 3 for coming to East Providence. Always a pleasure. Hope you all made it out of the parking lot safely. ;)

It would certainly appear that the teachers (most of whom in the audience did not appear to be East Providence teachers) don't realize the extent of the city and school department budgetary crisis, and that they are a huge part of solving it. Again, the teachers contract represents over 50% of all city spending and about 87% of the school budget. You can't address the problem without addressing that. When schools start closing and people start getting laid off, then maybe it will kick in.

The teachers were worse than childish. I was really embarrassed for them, especially the way they repeatedly tried to shout down the school committee members, as well as one of the public speakers. I've never been to a meeting like that, though of course, I've heard of similar ones occurring elsewhere. They use intimidation as a tactic, and as anyone watching could see, the school committee didn't take the bait. Good for them.

They acted like a mob, and as often happens to mobsters, they got whacked by the school committee tonight.

PS The police are another issue altogether in East Providence. Obviously, they are unionized as well. They're just mad that the city council wants to take away some of their precious police cars, and are considering a major reduction in their overall budget.

PS $6000 pay cut? There was 5% cut in pay, and a 20% co-pay imposed ... Just do the math. Are you making over $100,000 a year? Remember, the $5,100 "buyback" for not taking the free health care, is not part of your pay.

PS Pat was just being Pat tonight. Rabble rousing is what he's paid to do.

Posted by: Will at January 13, 2009 10:20 PM

I wonder how many attending the meeting are plants to create discord if the described actions did occur?

After all, we are only hearing Justin’s interpretation and description of the events.

And Justin, you’ve already boldly projected your total dislike for anything related to unions and public teachers,

Posted by: Ken at January 13, 2009 10:29 PM


Obviously, you were not there. By any rational standard of decorum, the teachers were way out of line. If they were "plants," they were union plants. We know who most of them are. It's usually the same folks at these things.

Posted by: Will at January 13, 2009 10:40 PM

"Is this who you want to be?"

Yes, this is exactly who they want to be.
What you are seing unfold is the raw panic of pedators who realize there is no longer enough prey to sustain them.

Posted by: Mike at January 13, 2009 10:42 PM

What a shameful display by the teachers. And there was Pat Crowley, playing journalist, sticking a camcorder in the face of Anthony Carcieri. He couldn't live blog because he was too busy documenting his merry mob of union plants. And Valerie Lawson has the nerve to question why they ended the meeting early, citing free speech, when they were being disorderly and impeding governmental process.

Posted by: BonDotts at January 13, 2009 11:14 PM

Who among us would not react if we were told we'd have to take a $6,000 pay cut?
If a criminal defendant is found not guilty on court, does the prosecutor get to throw him in the pokey anyway?
Each side is doing what it thinks is right. The School Committee has every right to act as it did, but does not have the right to demand that the teachers take a pay cut sitting down. If you're going to take action, you're gonna have to deal with the reaction. That applies to both sides.
I thought WWE Raw aired on Monday nights.

Posted by: rhody at January 13, 2009 11:17 PM

I was at tonight’s meeting and will tell you my story. I bought T-shirts to pass out that said on the front, Teachers and Union Reps Big Difference. On the back, Support our School Committee. A couple of teachers I was not familiar with approached the box of shirts and walked off with a few (they must have assumed they were union shirts). Once they read what was on them, one teacher ripped it to pieces. I then approached him and told him that he had to pay for the shirt. He proceeds to tell me he is a taxpayer. I then explained to him that taxes were not used to purchase the shirt and that I purchased them and demanded he pay. “See me after the meeting” was his response. I then called the police and reported the incident. The dispatcher told me to locate an officer who was stationed at one of the doors, I thanked him and said I’ll do just that. At this time another teacher (who also had taken a shirt that she subsequently returned unharmed) sitting in front of this fine upstanding individual offered to pay for the shirts. I accepted. As I was walking away another gentlemanly teacher told me to trip and break my neck or something similar to that and I told him that I wished him the very best. Where do these people get off thinking that this kind of behavior is ever acceptable? I absolutely saw a new low in my (and I hate to use this term) fellow man. The mere thought that these people are teaching our children brings chills to my spine. This last thing says it all, the members of the School Committee received police escort for fear they would be harmed. While Mr. Cacieri leaving the auditorium, he was confronted by an angry teacher. Of course Mr. Cacieri showed great restraint while this madman rambled on.

Posted by: bobc at January 14, 2009 12:09 AM

Yeah, I saw that loony guy haranguing Mr. Carcieri near the door, too (it wasn't Pat), but it's awfully hard to intimidate a 6' 6" man. I sure hope he wasn't a teacher, because I don't want people like that near children.

I was very pleased that when Mr. Carcieri was asked by the TV reporter afterwards, whether or not this showing by the teachers tonight changed his mind, he said, no, it reinforces it (meaning, he's even more determined than ever).

PS When the teachers were doing the "teachers, teachers" chant, we said "t-shirts, t-shirts". :)

Posted by: Will at January 14, 2009 12:42 AM

Will, you beat me to it with your recollection of Carcieri reaffirming his position.

I give credit to anyone who attended that meeting in defense of Mr. Carcieri and the rest of the panel.

I went through the very same type of situation many years ago working for a very large firm in Massachusetts. While we weren't ask to take pay cuts, we were asked to contribute more to our healthcare copays AND we were level funded for the next five years in terms of pay raises.

It wasn't pleasant but at least we were able to keep our jobs.

For college educated people with a minimal Bachelor's Degree, they were sure acting stupid or to put it in terms so appropos to another current matter, they were acting like parents of Barrington High students....

Posted by: Roland at January 14, 2009 1:42 AM


I like your comments. Sorry you had to make concessions at your workplace.
Too bad the teachers have not been given a chance to make concessions since from day one the school committee has appeared to want to force a confrontation.


So what if you're not worthy of being a teacher. What I don't understand from your comments are after saying what you and your husband have had taken away (I'll bet it does not equal $6000) why do you want to impose this on others. If in your "real world" workers don't recognize the need to organize for better pay and conditions and then when the unpleasant side of not being represented appears all you want to do is make sure that others suffer too. Sorry no weak sisters for me in my world.

To the rest of you paragons of temperance

I listen to you squawk about matters that involve a lot less than 6 grand.

Posted by: Phil at January 14, 2009 6:18 AM


Are you for real?

Your mindset is one in which the employer needs to seek the permision of the employee with respect to what the employer can afford and/or is willing to pay.

Is that how it works in the real world? Answer: NO.

Only in the make-believe fantasy world of Public Employment does it "work" like that. And the results are obvious ...disasterous, unless you are a Union leech.

How about simplifying the process:

1) Employer makes an offer of what they can AFFORD to pay.

2) Employee decides whether they can afford to stay and "work" at the price being offered. If they can NOT afford to stay, then they are FREE to leave and go find a job / employer that is willing and able to afford what they foolishly demand.

Isn't that a better model than having the employee(s) assemble as a mob in an attempt to artificially impose their will, disrupting the business?

Clearly, if the Employer is not offering enough compensation they will not be able find enough employees to meet their requirements and, therefore, they will adjust upward their offer.

For once, I'd love to see the Pat Crowleys and Bob Walshes of the world own and operate a legitimate business that creates real jobs, and run it the way they are suggesting (or should I say ...demanding). We'd see how long they could sustain it.

Lastly, where do you get your "$6,000 pay-cut" figure. Please explain, as facts do matter.

Posted by: George Elbow at January 14, 2009 7:56 AM

>>Too bad the teachers have not been given a chance to make concessions since from day one the school committee has appeared to want to force a confrontation.>>

Hey Phil, why don't you use the other blog to spread these lies. It holds about as much truth as "these teachers are asking for a 50% raise in their next contract and the school committee is trying to only give them 10%. Look at the teachers' reaction to only being offered a 10% raise. Support the school committee as they fight the ridiculous demands for a 50% pay raise next year.

Equal amount of truth in both statements.

And >>I listen to you squawk about matters that involve a lot less than 6 grand. >>

Squawking is fine. Utterly disrespecting and making a spectacle of yourself and your organization? Unacceptable. Glad to see that the teachers are represented by "professionals" as on display last night.

Posted by: pitcher at January 14, 2009 7:57 AM

>>Lastly, where do you get your "$6,000 pay-cut" figure. Please explain, as facts do matter.>>

George, I think where he's getting that number is from the pay cut AND the 20% of health insurance. I think it costs about $10,000 for health insurance, so if they now have to pay $2,000 of that, then the other $4,000 is a 5% cut off of what, $80,000?

I think that's the math, but at the same time, if I'm making $80,000 and someone wants to take $6,000 back, I'm not going to be happy, but I don't think it'd push me to the actions we saw last night.

But it is interesting that a number of people have asked for justification on that $6,000 figure and he can't offer one. I guess it's the old thing where if you keep saying it enough times, it becomes true.

Posted by: pitcher at January 14, 2009 8:09 AM

>I listen to you squawk about matters that involve a lot less than 6 grand.

It's not a matter of 6 grand.

It's that they are already grossly overcompensated for what they do, given the rudimentary training involved (this isn't to be insulting, but it's well known that education colleges are diploma mills and that education degrees are notorious for the lack of rigor involved in obtaining them) ...

And given the part-time nature of the job (only "x" hours actually spend in a classroom, 20-ish "sick days" a year out of only a scheduled 180-ish "work year") ...

And given the low standards of performance required to keep the position (seniority and tenure and contractual procedures to terminate mean that job performance is optional since it's nearly impossible to fire a grossly incompetent teacher, much less just the mediocre). Google the "rubber rooms" in the New York City public school system for an interesting illustration of this ...

This results in average performance being brought down. Which is why Rhode Island's public schools are ranked below average even as against the already low standards of U.S. public education. Rhode Island's teachers are doing a lousy job.

As for the red herring about non-union people in the public sector should get a union instead of trying to pull you down, it's apples and oranges.

In the private sector unions have resulted in job loss - just ask the hundreds of thousands of formerly highly paid UAW workers who are now unemployed. That is because in the private sector the employer is subject to competition and market forces - including having to offer a product or service that a consumer will voluntarily pay for, and a price that a consumer is willing to pay - and when unions overreach market discipline imposes its inevitable result.

The public sector extracts its "gross revenue" at the point of a gun via the taxman. It's "products" have little or no competition, and do not need to be of quality or efficiency to continue in operation - hence our government bureaucracies, potholed road and lousy public schools, all funded with some of this country's highest tax rates.

FDR (who enacted the National Labors Act promoting private sector unionization) was opposed to public sector unionization, for the very problems we see today. That is that, besides being insulated from market forces and gaining revenue through forced taxation, public sector unions "elect management."

Your fat compensation package is not a result of "collective bargaining" but of public sector unions gaming the political system in their favor. Your largesse has come from the back rooms of the General Assembly, not at the "negotiating table."

Posted by: Tom W at January 14, 2009 8:31 AM


I don't "want" to impose anything on others; I get no joy from the fact they are facing a pay cut & have to pay a bit for their insurance. The reality is most non-public employees in the state (the few that are left) have paid for at least part of their insurance for a good long time. Every job I've ever worked since being in college I've had to pay something towards my insurance.

"Organizing for better conditions" is not the answer to budgetary issues. Quite frankly, I don't want to pay union dues to an organization that claims to represent me when I may or may not agree with their policies. I work where I work because I need a job; if something better comes along, so be it. But I don't want to be bullied by hacks who think the union is more important than financial solvency for a city.

Finally, what you care if what my spouse & I have had taken away from us in terms of not getting a raise & having our health insurance cost go up does or does not equal $6k? Are you really that socialist that everyone on the planet should have to have the same exact cut in pay? I sat down & did the math; it's just over $4k. Would my sending you a check for the $2k difference make it up to you? I'm sure you could spend it well during your 2 1/2 month summer vacation while we have to show up at work every day.

Posted by: Stephanie at January 14, 2009 8:38 AM

And all this started when the committee refused to hold negotiations in executive session.

Posted by: Bill Felkner at January 14, 2009 11:42 AM

I attended the school committee meeting (near riot), last night. There were alot of outside rabble rousers there last night. If a student acted the way they did last night, they would get a note sent home to their parents about their unruly behavior, or have detention, or with the vulgar mouths, be suspended. I felt bad for the student liason being subjected to this unruly mass. She was clearly nervous.

Elderly sitting the audience in support of the school committee were harrassed by these union organizers. One older woman said she was fearful the city would go bankrupt. The union organizer said the city had resources and money they were hiding. What???

I talked my neighbors into going to the meeting. He is retired military. He thought he was at a terrorist convention rather than a meeting with all the foolishness last night.

Alot of other cities and towns are going to be busy with negotiating contracts. I guess the union folks want to try to make an example out of us to instill fear in other cities and town. Stay strong school committee. Remember, you don't negotiate with terroists.

Posted by: kathy at January 14, 2009 12:28 PM

Mr. Carcieri, you have reaped what you've sown. If you want to go on talk radio and attack teachers, are they supposed to sit down and take it?
Both sides need to take a chill pill. But the inflammatory rhetoric has come from BOTH sides.
Including you, Elbow, as long as we're all calling each other out here, mmmkay?

Posted by: rhody at January 14, 2009 2:47 PM


I'm not sure how much you know about the reality of the situation that East Providence is in. This is no longer about the teachers, if it ever really was. This is only about stopping the city from going under.

"Mr. Carcieri, you have reaped what you've sown."

First of all, Anthony Carcieri has been the chairman of the School Committee since December 1st -- 6 weeks. He's been a school committee member for 6 months. The problems that our city faces go back many years, so quit the scapegoating.

No, the teachers who have lived off of the rest of the city for most the last generation have reaped what they have sown! And a good number of the "East Providence teachers" don't even live in East Providence! They got treated great when times were good, and now that times are not good, they act like economic reality shouldn't apply to them. They work half a year, get great pay, were getting free top-notch healthcare, were getting a $5100 buyback, and a very generous lifetime pension. Then when they retire in their 50s, they get to go enjoy it in sunny Florida like everyone else with half a brain.

Nearly 10% of the workers in this state are unemployed, and they are squawking over a pay raise rollback and having to pay for 20% of their health care costs? If they think we couldn't find 500 teachers in need of employment, they're in for a big surprise (please strike, pretty please).

All the school committee did was to roll back a 5% raise the teachers gave themselves last year, and imposed a cost-share for their free health care benefits. They did that because financially, they no longer have a choice, and can't keep ignoring the bills that are past due. The city owes real money. The city does not have a "rainy day" fund. By the way, I say "gave themselves," because they controlled the leadership of the old school committees gave away the store and more (two of the members, including the past chair, also were the past presidents of the teachers union). We knew this going back to 2002-2003, that this was going to be a problem in the future - and they ignored us then. The future is now.

"If you want to go on talk radio and attack teachers, are they supposed to sit down and take it?"

He did not and he has not attacked teachers. He has pointed out that the union currently representing the teachers has been less than truthful, as to its negotiating position. Why does every time that someone points out reality, that it's taken or construed into an attack? The city is broke, in fact, it is worse than broke and they've offered NOTHING that will help to REDUCE the deficit. They're so-called "concessions" would actually increase costs to the city, not do anything at all to help solve the budget deficit.

Does anyone realize that we already owe $4.5 million dollars in unpaid bills? Can someone please acknowledge that reality, just for a minute?

I don't have a problem with "rhetoric" as long as it's truthful. The teachers union I believe is deliberately misrepresenting the facts. The city is functionally bankrupt already, and arrangement which may be formalized in the not so distant future.

Posted by: Will at January 14, 2009 5:46 PM

Any chance of you providing us with the details that comprise the "$6,000 pay-cut" that asserted? Or was your comment just the usual Union "rhetoric"?

Just once Rhody, give us some facts as opposed to just pithy Union talking points.

NEA Asssistant Exec. Director, Patrick Crowley, recently wrote "is it a successful business model to lower your prices year after year even if your production costs rise each year?"

The answer to this intellectual giant's Rhetorical question is "NO".

That is why we must have our spoiled Union members begin to pay their fair share of the ever INCREASING cost of THEIR health-care.

I hope you are not suggesting that you would define as a "pay cut" the act of someone paying their fair share of an increasing cost. Tell us you are not that dumb and naive. Mmmmkay.

Posted by: George Elbow at January 14, 2009 10:26 PM

Elbow, since you love to personalize policy debates, my stove isn't big enough to reheat your stale talking points (I don't think there's a church stove in this state big enough, really).
If it's okay with you to ignore the word of arbitrators and judges, and don't mind living in a completely lawless society, more power to you. But remember, that shoe fits on both feet. The outcome in EP may be fine and dandy with you, but some other outcomes in other areas of society...you might not be so thrilled.

Posted by: rhody at January 15, 2009 5:28 PM

Is it too much to ask that you provide some facts or data to support your assertions.

Explain your "$6,000 pay cut" assertion.

A few facts are always helpful in a debate, unless you are not interested in debating, but rather more interested in making unsupportable pithy comments.

Lastly, I am not keen on a single Judge or an Arbitrator making a decision that affects thousands of taxpayers, particularly when the arbitrator ignores an entity's ability to pay and instead bases a decision on what another community can afford to pay.

What I prefer is for the employer to make an offer and then let the individual employees decide whether they can afford to accept the offer, as opposed to the employees engaging in mob extortion.

Posted by: George Elbow at January 15, 2009 10:37 PM
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