Teachers dismiss mediated pact offer

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The Warwick School Committee is ready to agree on a new mediated contract, which would end over two years of bitter disputes between the school administration and the Warwick Teachers’ Union (WTU). However, the union maintained on Wednesday that it is simply ready to return to the negotiating table, not commit to a deal brokered by mediation that still doesn’t address some key areas of concern.

The school committee voted 4-1 in support (with Karen Bachus opposed) on Tuesday night to accept a mediated contract agreement that was proposed following a meeting on Friday, July 7 with independent mediator, Vincent F. Ragosta, and Mayor Scott Avedisian.

The deal, if agreed to by the union, “would provide teachers with 3 percent pay raises each year in 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2019-20” and would include compromises on teacher evaluations, after-school meetings, the filling of coaching positions by seniority, report card grading systems, sick days, common planning time, staff reductions and class sizes.

“After two long years and many hundreds of hours spent at the table, we have a settlement that I think is fair,” Beth Furtado, Chair of the Warwick School Committee said in a statement. “The district didn't get everything they wanted, the union didn't either and in the end I believe it's something that we can all work with. I appreciate the efforts Mayor Avedisian and Vin Ragosta put forth in assisting in this process. We need to move forward from here.”

However a press release sent out by the Teachers’ Union on Wednesday shed doubts that this mediated agreement would lead to the long-awaited final form of a new contract.

“In a letter dated July 3, 2017 and sent to both the Warwick Teachers’ Union and the Warwick School Committee, mediators Vincent Ragosta and Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian state the following, ‘We fully realize that some further negotiation will take place on finances and perhaps some other subject matters,’” said Darlene Netcoh, President of the Warwick Teachers’ Union, in the release.

“The Warwick Teachers’ Union Executive Board reviewed the non-binding advisory opinions of mediators Ragosta and Avedisian and agreed that, while the mediators’ findings brought the parties closer together, there are still a number of issues that are unresolved and need to be negotiated,” Netcoh continued.

Those unresolved issues, according to the press release, include but are not limited to: “language that governs class size and the assignment of special education teachers to classes with students who need extra support.”

“The needs of students are of paramount importance to teachers, and this language needs to be finalized before the WTU Executive Board takes the advisory opinions of the mediators to the membership,” said Netcoh. “The WTU stands ready to resume mediation/negotiations.”

The press release from the union also called into question why the school committee has refused the union’s offer to make terms – offered by an impartial mediator stemming from statutory interest arbitrations – binding. The two sides had met in statutory interest arbitration 16 times between December of 2015 and January of 2017.

“Every taxpayer in Warwick should wonder why the Warwick School Committee would reject the neutral arbitrator’s decision, after they and the superintendent are the ones who chose this route and have spent a year and a half and close to a quarter of a million dollars on interest arbitration,” said Netcoh.

Superintendent Philip Thornton stated in the administration’s press release that the ultimate goal in these negotiations should remain clear.

“Like any negotiation, one side get some things it wants and the other side gets some things it wants,” Thornton said. “In reviewing the overall mediator’s award, I think this is fair and equitable, and more importantly, allows us to focus all of our attention on our mission – educating students.”

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richardcorrente

The Warwick Teachers Union and the Warwick School Committee seemed to agree on a much anticipated new contract. That sounded like great news. I thought "Many congratulations to all parties involved". Then I read it again. The School Committee, in their judgement, agreed on this new agreement, but NOT the Warwick Teachers Union. Then I thought maybe this is just a cleverly worded cover story. The School Committee is "ready to agree" but it doesn't say the Teachers Union is.The comment "which would end over two years of bitter disputes" makes it sound like the School Committee has made a great accomplishment. But the truth is they haven't! They didn't reach an agreement with anyone but themselves! Folks. That is NOT an agreement. Who do they think they are fooling?

Here's an idea.

Agree on just one thing.

Agree to negotiate the new agreement for four hours a day, EVERY DAY until a new agreement can be reached. Announce that to the public and both sides will gain support. That's what I would have done.

Darlene Netcoh, President of the Warwick Teachers Union, said "Every taxpayer in Warwick should wonder why the Warwick School Committee would reject the neutral arbitrator's decision, after they and the superintendent are the ones who chose this route and have spent a year and a half and close to a quarter of a million dollars on interest arbitration."

I would add that the "quarter of a million dollars" spent was the taxpayers "quarter of a million dollars" and 80,000 taxpayers deserve better. So do their children.

Happy Summer everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Friday, July 14 | Report this
CrickeeRaven

Corrections to the prior comment by tbe fake "mayor," for readers who value accuracy and honesty:

-- "The Warwick Teachers Union and the Warwick School Committee seemed to agree on a much anticipated new contract." - There is nothing in this article that suggests anything of the sort. At least the fake "mayor" admits his error further down in his comment.

-- "I would add that the "quarter of a million dollars" spent was the taxpayers "quarter of a million dollars" and 80,000 taxpayers deserve better." - No independent verification of that figure has been provided by the union; the teachers union has also spent money on its role in the contract dispute (including court filings and other maneuvers) that it has yet to disclose. Those funds are union dues paid by teachers from their taxpayer-funded salaries. Warwick residents "deserve better" than a failed candidate who continues to refer to himself by a fake title.

He will certainly continue to embarrass himself in his future comments.

Friday, July 14 | Report this
richardcorrente

Dear CrickeeRaven,

You say that there is nothing in the above article that suggests that the two sides are "ready to agree on a new mediated contract". Really? How about the first sentence? Did you not read it?

You then said that there has been "no independent verification" of the money (a quarter of a million dollars) spent.

HA!

You know why CrickeeRaven? Because the School Committee won't let anyone audit them you idiot! WHEN that day finally arrives I bet it will be a lot MORE than a quarter of a million dollars, but until then can we at least agree that whatever the amount is, it came out of the taxpayers pocket? Even someone like YOU has to admit that!

CrickeeRaven, (Can I call you CR?) You need a life.

Now go ahead and attack me. You seem to enjoy that a lot. You call me a "fake" when I call myself "The Taxpayers Mayor", a name I self-imposed because I feel that I am a servant of the taxpayer. I submit my "Corrente Plan" to improve Warwick openly, honestly, and I give my real name. You, on the other hand, have never offered one intelligent thought; not one money saving, or quality-of-life improving idea and then you criticize my ideas and hide behind your own "fake" name.

So have at it my unhappy friend, and when you're done, please go out and get a life.

Because...

You really, really need one.

Happy Summer CrickeeRaven.

Happy Summer everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Saturday, July 15 | Report this
CrickeeRaven

For someone so intent on maintaining a legitimate campaign, the losing failure fake "mayor" clearly has no idea of how to accomplish it.

As he has so often, he will no doubt continue embarrassing himself on this site.

Saturday, July 15 | Report this
CrickeeRaven

One further correction to the prior comment by the fake "mayor" for readers who value accuracy:

-- "You, on the other hand, have never offered one intelligent thought; not one money saving, or quality-of-life improving idea..."

- I have consistently proven the falsehoods, tax delinquencies, and baseless claims made by the fake "mayor," who lost the 2016 election by a 65-35% margin. That result saved money and improved the quality of life in Warwick when thousands of honest, taxpaying voters decided to reject his candidacy.

Saturday, July 15 | Report this
Justanidiot

between the general assembly taking their ball and going home and the Warwick teachers and administration doing pretty much the same thing, the message we are sending are kids is that all you have to do is act like a kintergardenre and hold your breath until you get your way.

Monday, July 17 | Report this