Usually when it comes to municipal contract negotiations, the parties remain silent until either an agreement has been reached or talks break down.
Some might think George Landrie, the new president of the Warwick Teachers Union, is already breaking with tradition. In interviews last week, Landrie talked about his vision for the union and, surprisingly, was particularly candid when it came to what he’d like to see protected in a teachers’ contract.
But then, talks between the School Committee and the union haven’t started. For that matter, the committee hasn’t responded to the union’s letter of last December.
It would appear Mr. Landrie isn’t talking out of school. Teacher talks haven’t started, and for that matter haven’t even been scheduled even though the current three-year contract expires at the end of August.
One has to wonder whether the lack of communication on the part of the School Committee is part of their strategy. Is the committee looking to bring this to the 11th hour with hopes of gaining union concessions so that teachers can start the year with an agreement? Or could it be they want to prolong talks and have the union extend the terms of the existing contract until a new one is reached? Or has the committee just not gotten around to considering a contract and compiling a list of issues it would like to address?
We’re not pretending to know what the story is.
But we can safely say we’re in agreement with Mr. Landrie’s goal of a quality school system. That is a sound objective, and one we doubt the committee disagrees with.
As experience has shown, that objective can become contentious when costs are applied to the various components of a plan as defined by a contract.
Until the parties start talking, however, there won’t be common ground, and rather than harmony, which Landrie strived for as a music teacher, there will be discord. And that doesn’t promise to further quality education.