February 25, 2009

Comparing Warwick Contracts

Marc Comtois

For perspective (which ever way that you, dear reader, wish to take it), here is a quick comparison of the re-negotiated Warwick contracts. Warwick Mayor Avedesian and his administration re-negotiated the fire, police and municipal contracts (pending City Council approval this Friday) and extended them to 2012. (In September 2008), the Warwick School Committee and Administration re-negotiated the teacher contract thru 2011.


* For Fire, Police and Municipal workers, this is the effective annual raise after salary give backs for the last four months of Fiscal Year 2009, which amounted to 5% for police, 3.5% for firefighters and 3% for municipal employees. The teachers renegotiated on the heels of their new contract just taking affect. This took them from their original 3.5% raise to a 2% raise with differential deferred.

Health care co-pay is for individual/week and is a set dollar amount, not a percentage.


1) Health care really needs to become a percentage of salary, not a flat dollar amount.

2) Don't forget the STEPS. Raises are built into step increases.

UPDATE: I took some time and, utilizing the "Transparency Train", looked at the current contracts that are being extended. Currently, the Police (p.14) and Fire (p.36) have this step increase structure built in:


Now, these aren't year-to-year steps--as with the Teacher contract (p.107)--and the impact isn't as great. For example, those in the middle years of each step are really just getting the publicized raise (0% and then 2.25%). Those lucky enough to make the jump will receive more. (The municipal union contract--p.72--is similarly structured ).

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With all due respect, your teacher numbers couldn't be any more wrong. And I can't figure out for the life of me why people are still reporting things this way. The 3.5% that you cite is from one year to the next on the *same step*. No teacher who is a step 2 one year is a step 2 the next year. They move up to step 3. If they stayed a step 2 year after year, they would only get a 3.5% raise according to the old contract and the numbers you cite going forward. The average raise in 2008 was 10.8% and in 2009 it will be 9.2%. I'm looking for someone to tell me I'm doing the math wrong, but according to the Transparency Train web site, where I found the Warwick Teachers' Contract, here are the 2008 salaries for the 10 steps:


So then, I simply added 2% to those for 2009 and I get:


So then if we take the difference between step 1 in 2008 (39,128) and what a step 2 teacher would make in 2009 (44,012), that is a 12.5% raise.

Let's look at a teacher at step 9 in 2008 (65,701) and step 10 in 2009 (73,610). The difference there is a 12.0% increase.

And this is not a Warwick thing. This is how all the teaching contracts work in this state.

So unless teachers really do stay at the same step year after year and truly only see a 2% increase in their gross pay, the numbers you're showing are way, way off. And again, this isn't an attack at you, everyone in the media reports the numbers the same way, because that's how they're presented by the mayors, school committees and unions. Imagine if Avedesian had to tell the people of Warwick, he just gave the average teacher a 9.2% raise in 2009. That could get ugly.

If my methods of calculating these numbers are incorrect, I'd be very happy to be proven wrong.


Posted by: Patrick at February 25, 2009 8:00 AM

Patrick...thanks...I was working on some further explanation just as you posted the comment!

Posted by: Marc at February 25, 2009 8:07 AM

I agree with Marc's follow up points. For the life of the contract, keep the steps, but just one schedule, except for the top step people. Then simply give them the 2 or 3% raise as advertised. For example, this Warwick contract with the four years that Marc is showing should only have one. Let's use the 2010 column. A step 1 teacher going to step 2 would then get the $2,500 raise, not the $3,231.

However if we still do the math on this contract, and that teacher who is getting the $2,500 raise from step 1 to step 2 is getting an 8.3% raise.

But a teacher starting in 2010 and moving to step 2 in 2011 will get a 10.8% raise.

Where are these 0% and 2.25% raises that Avedisian is talking about? Bottom line on what a raise is can be determined by the employee's gross salary, not some spinning numbers in charts.

This is probably the greatest secret never told to taxpayers. If people were made aware of this, there'd be revolt for sure.

Posted by: Patrick at February 25, 2009 8:27 AM

Patrick, thanks again...It's important enough that I've spun off a "tutorial" to cover it (hopefully) more adequately. Thanks for the "inspiration".

Posted by: Marc at February 25, 2009 10:34 AM

What I find a bit troubling is the fact that although Marc indicates that we should consider his numbers at face value, he's neglected to provide the numbers for the years 2003 through 2008.

I think this would provide a better picture of what actually transpired.

I believe Warwick Teachers did not receive any raise for one of those years. For the others, their increases were substantially lower than Police, Fire and Municipal employees.

Anyone can skew the numbers to reflect a certain position but in the interest of preserving AR's integrity, let's report ALL the numbers, shall we?

Posted by: Biagio at February 25, 2009 4:10 PM

Hey Biagio, I'm guessing you're just going to slither off into the ether after throwing that bomb, but I don't see why you can't provide the numbers to back up your assertion. I can virtually guarantee that there was no year that the teachers didn't get a raise. I'd be more than happy to present the numbers from 2006-2008, which is the only contract that I know of being available online at the Transparency Train. You're welcome to find those numbers there as well. Let's leave out the fact that the teachers actually got TWO raises in 2006. Yeah, you don't want to mention that and destroy any "integrity" that you might have had either, eh? If there's a place where the '02-'05 numbers are available, other than going through the usual fight with the school department to get contract info (if you've ever tried, it ain't easy), I'd love to see them too. Just point it out and back up your claims.

Posted by: Patrick at February 25, 2009 6:22 PM

Biaggo, there's no "face value" about it. Where do you think those links I provided go? That's my support for any of the numbers I presented (the Teacher contract link goes to data for 2006-2008, as Patrick indicated).

As you indicate, there was no contract from 2003-2006. But it's simply not true that there was "no raise". Actual teachers still progressed thru the steps received the same built in pay pay increases while working to rule. Here's a post I did on that in 2006, when the new contract was ratified (it includes a link to the ProJo story), which included retroactive pay, too. Here's an editorial from the Warwick Beacon. And just for the heck of it, here's one of the original, "unreasonable" contract offers from the School Committee back in Sep. 2003.

And going back further, for 2000-2002, take a close look at my "Step Tutorial" post....

Posted by: Marc at February 26, 2009 7:40 AM
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