October 21, 2014
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Teacher talks in limbo, mediator named

After almost a year, the Warwick School Department and the Teachers Union appear no closer to a contract and it is doubtful an agreement will be in place when school opens Aug. 29.

Unless some understanding is reached, union president James Ginolfi has said, the contract extension reached last year expires Aug. 31, along with a 20-percent health care co-pay, which would mean an additional $2 million in costs this year.

Talks have been in limbo since this spring. Within the last month, the sides have agreed on mediation and selected mediator Vincent Ragosta, although a first meeting has yet to be scheduled.

“This is 11 months later and we haven’t met with the union, and it’s an abomination,” School Committee member Eugene Nadeau said Friday. Nadeau sees the sword cutting both ways.

When the current contract extension expires, Nadeau reasons, not only does the 20 percent co-pay cease but so do other provisions, including limits on layoffs, class size and – what Nadeau particularly wants to see eliminated – seniority.

“To me a contract ends when it ends,” he said.

Nadeau says the health care co-pay, which Ginolfi said would revert to $11 a week if an agreement isn’t reached by the end of August, shouldn’t be reduced but increased.

“What I want is 25 percent,” he said.

He said he looked at a study of 13 major companies that found, on average, employees paying 37 percent. He said that, considering wages and benefits, the department is paying $100,000 a year per teacher.

“Prolonging the contract is not good for the school department and I want it to end,” he said.

Nadeau said he prepared a list of contract revisions he wanted to see addressed some time ago, but so far nothing has happened. Nadeau didn’t share the list, but he said seniority has got to get out of the contract.

“Seniority rules in the system,” he said.

He said it dictates promotions and fails to recognize those most qualified for the job.

“It keeps those that perhaps are not doing the job in the job for a lifetime,” he said.

He acknowledged that, under the state Department of Education, schools are in the process of implementing a new system of teacher evaluation. Warwick is one of two communities that implemented the system last year with the purpose of trouble shooting it before being introduced statewide.

Thus far, the system has been criticized for being burdened by paperwork and consuming time that would be better spent in classrooms and on administration. The union that played a role in evaluating the new system said the department of education is doing what it wants regardless of union input. Ginolfi made that charge when the state released a summary of the program a couple of days before the Warwick panel submitted its report.

As for the chosen mediator, Laura Hart, spokeswoman for the Department of Labor and Training, said Ragosta has served as a mediator for the past decade and mediated talks in North Smithfield, East Greenwich, Johnston and Bristol/Warren. She said the department pays $5,000 of the cost of mediation.

As for the process, Hart said, mediation goes on “until such time that a contract is worked out, or there is a stalemate and they go to arbitration.”

Each party would select one arbitrator and the American Arbitration Association would name the third.

While expiration of the current agreement is less than 40 days away, Ginolfi doesn’t see reaching an agreement as impossible.

“It always comes down to meeting together,” he said.

So far this summer, that hasn’t been happening.


Comments
3 comments on this item

Thank you Mr. Nadeau....you are correct in your assessment. The scores of Warwick schools is shocking and deplorable. There has got to be a better way.

You have to start by purging members of the school administration starting with Rosemary Healy. She wants to maintain the status quo and not alienate the teachers union. Remind her she works for the school committee who report to the taxpayers.

Clean house in the school administration and let Jimmy know the staus quo is finished. The taxpayers want changes and we want them now.

Mr .Nadeau is part of the problem. How can a man get suckered in to vote on a pay increase and a certification change for the Math position that is open. He then hires the secondary directors son who now happens to be certified with only 4 years teaching at 95000 a year. The interview team was hand picked by Mrs. Healy and Mr. Mullin. How About Mr. Nadeau voting yes to hire a rehire a man who was called the interim assistant to the superintendent for 4 years and didn't show up 50% of the days he was scheduled to work.He will now run Aldrich as interim how fair is this to the kids.There must be some young people out there who would have been a better hire. Mr.Nadeu why have you not sat down with these teachers this summer they do have summers off. Will my poor kids have to go through work to rule because they have no contract for 3 years while you play games.Teachers please Strike work to rule is like a slow death. Mr. Nadeau please don't run again may kids need an education not a dog and pony show from you.

Nadeau is spot on. Teachers making $100,000 compensation is WAY TOO MUCH which is why we are bankrupt. On top of that, these hacks through coercive bargaining and a stupid taxpayer base, got themselves protections allowing poor quality to persist. The well is dry and it is time to ROLL BACK the pay A LOT. For example, private teachers get about 1/2 the pay and yet the private schools have NO PROBLEM hiring even better teachers. This is nothing more than organized crime with these union teachers and now the sheriff is on scene due to no more money among the public. This IS going to be interesting!

As to "danpub", you make some good points if true about why hire people with a poor track record, I agree. Let Nadeau put an end to the union highway robbery where you pay way more and get way less, right that wrong, and maybe you can forgive him for a couple poor hiring choices?

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