Teachers reject latest contract offer

Pay increase would have included retro payment

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Barring a dramatic shift in positions, Warwick teachers will enter a third year without a contract when school doors open on Sept. 5.

It’s not that the parties have refused to meet, but depending on who you talk with, either the union is holding out for retroactive pay increases of 3 percent for each of the years they were without a contract in addition to 3 percent raises for the next three years for a projected increase of 15.9 percent over five years, or the committee is wiping clean contract language established over decades that would impair students and the teaching process.

Last Wednesday, as the parties convened for the first session since the union rejected a mediated best offer, there was optimism on the part of the school administration that finally there would be an agreement. Fueling such expectation were the “leanings” of the interest arbitrator – a preliminary to findings that could be released next month – that adds icing to the committee’s wage offer.

According to Superintendent Philip Thornton, interest arbitrator Michael Ryan is “leaning” toward granting the union a 2 percent retroactive pay raise for the last year. This would give top step teachers, who make up 86 percent of 896 Warwick teachers, an 11.5 percent pay increase over five years and a salary of $86,386 by Sept. 1, 2019.

School arbitration awards are non-binding on financial issues, but Thornton said Friday the committee is willing to consider the 2 percent retroactive payment, adding that the full arbitration “leanings” don’t give either party everything they want.

“I think it is fair and generous,” he said.

Thornton said the committee position that it is prepared to go along with the arbitrator’s leanings was clearly stated during Wednesday’s mediation and rejected by the union.

On Thursday both sides issued press releases on their take of the events, neither mentioning that, in effect, the committee had opened the door to a retroactive raise that would have the compound effect of making Warwick teachers among the top paid teachers in the state.

Thornton said the committee’s team “made a last-best offer beyond the neutral leanings that provides for 12 percent salary increases over the length of the contract in exchange for the addition of educationally sound contract language.”

He goes on to say, “The School Committee has not withdrawn this offer and remains ready, willing and able to continue to meet with the teacher’s union leadership to discuss minor revisions so that an agreement can be reached prior to the start of the school year. The conversation, however, needs to be a productive and substantive conversation with participation on the part of the WTU leadership. Regrettably, until this happens, we feel the mediation process has run its course and we look forward to the receipt of the interest arbitration ruling due out in the very near future.”

Union president Darlene Netcoh, in a release issued after that from Thornton, said the committee demonstrated its unwillingness to negotiate a successor contract.

“Although the Warwick Teachers’ Union [WTU] was willing to negotiate, the WSC gave us a ‘take it or leave it offer’ in which they imposed a new demand that we drop all impending grievances, some of which affect individual teachers and some that address violations of longstanding language in the CBA. If we were to acquiesce to such a demand, then we would not be able to challenge the WSC’s violations of the CBA and have a neutral arbitrator hear and decide each case.”

She goes on to say the committee has agreed to accept the arbitrator’s leanings that “do not constitute a final decision, which will come at the conclusion of the process after at least the next scheduled meeting of the panel.”

Netcoh says the union presented a counteroffer, which was rejected. Netcoh did not specify the offer, but Thornton said it included two years of 3 percent retro raises followed by three years of 3 percent.

The union further claimed that the figures related to retroactive raises presented by the school committee in their press release were not the actual figures that were presented in their meeting, and that the major hangup in delaying a new contract continues to be related to the contractual language involving class size and the policies on assigning special education teachers.

"Warwick teachers will continue to advocate for learning conditions for our students, and the WTU looks forward to returning to negotiations/mediation," the union press release reads.

According to data compiled by the school administration, the committee’s latest offer would put Warwick teachers fourth in the state in terms of pay. Barrington top step teachers are at the top with $85,265, 20 percent health co-pay and 186 days followed by Westerly at $83,757, 20 percent co-pay and 190 days. Next is Exeter/West Greenwich at $81,969 with 18 percent co-pay and 181 days.

Under the committee’s last offer, top step Warwick teachers would be at $81,427 with 20 percent co-pay and 181 days as of this Dec. 1.

Comments

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richardcorrente

I read the above article and what I get from it is positive. No, we don't have a new contract, but yes, both sides appear to be talking. They may not like what the other side is saying, but both sides are talking. That means we are one step closer. Those that are putting in the extra work to get to the finish line are to be commended. You're making progress.

Keep talking folks.

Happy September everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Tuesday, August 29
Thecaptain

GIVE THEM NOTHING AS THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY DESERVE !!

Tuesday, August 29
DannyHall82

So over 750 out of the 896 would be making 86k per year? Just doing quick math it comes out to 66 Million a year...not including Healthcare and pensions. The pay alone eats 1/3 of the School budget.

Tuesday, August 29
jfraser

Danny, you do realize that salaries are often the largest expenditure of any organization, don't you?

Wednesday, August 30
VoWarwick2017

I don't have an issue with the majority of the teachers making 86k per year, as long as the benefits are not out of control. My major issue with the school system in Warwick is that the whole system is failing the students and it is not a matter of money. It is a matter of organization, curriculum and instruction.

I say let the money follow the student, that will force the public schools to PROVE they have a ability to educate our children. Honestly right now I don't believe that they can/

Wednesday, August 30
MarianneA

Notice in the article "Dr. Phil" refers to the money aspect of the contract and not the Teaching and Learning aspect. That's because money makes headlines! Don't be conned by this. We didn't become teachers for the money! Most single teachers I know can't make ends meet without taking on a second job. We are in this profession to make a difference! We know what is best for out students. MAKE WARWICK SCHOOLS GREAT AGAIN! Listen to the professionals who are in the trenches everyday. Save money by eliminating the PR Firm and top level administrators who don't have a clue what goes on in the classroom! Before judging, sit down and talk to a teacher; or better yet spend a day in the classroom! It's time Warwick taxpayers supported their teachers. People will want to move to Warwick because we have the best teachers who will get the job done if allowed. They are not going to come to Warwick because a PR firm has created a new website (which I might add, our tech students could have done a better job for FREE).

On another note, this administration gets an F on Homework. Consider the consolidation plan. Had they done their homework they would have realized that Gorton, Green, and Francis schools could not be sold. Instead they jumped the gun, closed Gorton and Green, and now are spending big money to repurpose the building!

Wednesday, August 30
davebarry109

Over 80,000 a year for less than 180 work days with weekends and holidays off. Not bad. Especially given the poor results in the Warwick school system.(180 days minus sick days, professional days, vacation days, etc.)

Wednesday, August 30
PaulHuff

Listen Teachers,

We realize you are greedy....thats why you took raises back in 2012 when the rest of the city workers did "givebacks". Now you want a 15% pay raise to make yourselves the highest paid in the state.

If it wasn't about the money you would accept the modest raises, not worry too much about retro pay, not be petrified about being held accountable for your job performance, and accept the deal that your union leadership negotiated for you.

So lets be honest...it is about the money and you guys are greedy. 86K to work 1/2 the year is a good gig.You make more than the cop chasing bad guys through backyards in the middle of the night, more than the firefighter going into a burning building, and more than most other educators in the State.

Stop being so greedy.

Wednesday, August 30
ronloparto

The City of Warwick, School Dept and School Committee had better be Very Careful for the Sake of the Taxpayers!

It is rumored Rep Camille Vella-Wilkinson Is about to step in and Create a new Bill. When you read her Campaign Finance Report, Again you will see how that goes.

Everyone needs to Realize, It's Taxpayers 1st.

Rhode Island Cities and Towns have Always done All they can for Education, We Don't have to be Ordered by Special Interest or Anyone else.

I'm Proud of Our Teachers. Like Warwick Police and Fire, Best in America. Some of the Few Areas we're number one, Not Worst in America.

I have faith in Mayor Avedisian, the City of Warwick (22nd Best City in America ) School Dept and Our School Committee.

Crooked Politicians like Vella-Wilkinson need to "Mind Their Own Business "!

Wednesday, August 30
WarwickFreemason

Warwick needs more charter schools and less unions.

Wednesday, August 30
Thecaptain

To enlighten Marianne A,

Warwick teachers pay is in the top 3% of the country. Warwick teachers benefits are in the top 2% in the country. Warwick teachers product is in the bottom 6% in the country and worst in New England. According to the RIDE report, graduating Warwick seniors have a 17% proficiency in mathematics and an 11% proficiency in science. I'm tired of the teachers whining about pay and benefits. You work 180 days a year, its time to shut up and put out a good product. Where were the teachers at the budget hearings? Absent. Where are the teachers at the finance meetings? Absent.

I don't care whether it is teachers, cops, fire fighters, dpw or otherwise. You only deserve what the community can afford. Period. Right now the community can not afford any more. Get a job in the private sector and see how fast you'd be fired. That's another problem, too many lazy teachers that cant be fired. Shut up and be happy that your inadequacies are not dealt with in the same way that the private sector deals with unproductive workers.

With over 100 teachers absent daily, you mean to tell me that this is not a scam. You guys are running a close second to the fire fighters. No one in the private sector has these kinds of benefits. Count your blessings, shut up and teach, you bunch of whiners.

Wednesday, August 30
Kammy

*Sigh* So nothing new to report, just more of the same with both sides not budging and each blaming the other. How difficult is it for professional adults to come together, negotiate and move forward? If both sides are so interested in negotiating why the heck hasn't this matter been put to bed? What you say and what you do are two very different things.

WTU blames the administration for the failings of the schools/students. We are not in the top 10 schools in the state yet we will be paying out the same amount of money to teachers that the top performing districts pay? How is that getting your money's worth? The SC and the WTU need to stop pretending they are doing any of this for the students and wrap this up. Friends, I dearly WISH I could perform "Meh" and still have the possibility of a 15% pay raise over the next few years. This never happens in private employment. The boss and his money direct how we work and how much we receive. In my perfect world we would scrap out everyone on both sides and start fresh because apparently that is the only way we are going to move past the road block BOTH SIDES HAVE CREATED! Signed: A fed up citizen of Warwck

Wednesday, August 30
bendover

What are we, in the land of OZ? Taxpayers recently learned the unvarnished truth about pension/healthcare unfunded liabilities to the tune of what, $450M dollars with the new accounting methodology...You know what, give them everything they want...Between people moving out and the unsustainable contracts and benefits, Warwick will join Central Falls and a whole host of other communities speeding towards Chapter 9...Happy Summer.....In a pigs eye...This is NUTS!

Wednesday, August 30
VoWarwick2017

Here is a little information for Warwick Tax Payers... Last night I had dinner with a Warwick Teacher (Pilgrim High School) who is angry at the administration for getting in the way of them being able to do their job BUT they are just as mad at WTU because they are bullied into "refusing" good contracts that the majority of the teachers would take - were it not for the fact the union harasses them into voting 'No' (when it even gets that far).

PLUS - may favorite part - we are concerned about waste all the time, right? How about the fact that Warwick Tax Payer dollars are going to the education of kids that don't even live in Warwick! 4% of the kids at Pilgrim don't live in Warwick, they live in Providence, the majority of which are IEP which costs even more AND drags down the higher performing students because the teachers are too busy dealing with a catalog of IEP issues.

Have a great day Warwick

Thursday, August 31
ThatGuyInRI

There are a whole lot of people commenting with strong opinions and none of them have all the facts, me included.

For once I have to begrudgingly agree with "The People's Mayor" that there is a positive here, both sides are talking and moving closer at a glacial pace, this is good by the standards of this mess. Let's hope the progress continues.

Thursday, August 31
allent

Roads are crap, businesses are closed all over the place...the self-centered teachers gumption is quite astonishing.

Hopefully public sector unions get neutered in the next several yeq s courtesy of the supreme Court.

Thursday, August 31