Teachers boycotting accreditation process

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In the ongoing two-year teacher contract impasse, after rejecting a motion to strike according to reports, union members voted Tuesday night to work by the terms of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that expired in 2015. That action includes the decision not to participate in the school accreditation process as outlined by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

“The membership voted to reject the school committee’s final offer because, obviously, more negotiation is necessary,” said Darlene Netcoh, president of the Warwick Teacher’s Union, before headed to her Toll Gate class on Wednesday morning.

The first full day of classes for Warwick Public Schools did not pass by without contract-related activities. The union conducted an informational picket yesterday at Pilgrim High School that coincided with the administration’s “walkthrough” of the building, aimed at showing renovations and upgrades that would be addressed under a district-wide capital improvement program. The mayor, as well as City Council members and state legislators, were invited to participate.

“Until the teachers have a collective bargaining agreement, it is not business as usual in Warwick,” said Netcoh at the picket.

The union organized another picket on Thursday between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. outside Warwick City Hall, where ongoing road construction did not prevent more than 200 teachers and union supporters from showing up to demonstrate their frustrations.

“The mayor needs to get the school committee back to the table to negotiate and needs to use his influence with the superintendent and the school committee to get them to resolve this conflict,” Netcoh said in a statement. “The superintendent and school committee have continually violated this agreement [the 2015 CBA] between the parties and have spent an outrageous amount of money on an outside law firm. This money could have been spent on the children of the Warwick school system.”

In an interview Wednesday, Vincent Ragosta, who has served as mediator with Mayor Scott Avedisian, said he is willing to resume mediation at the request of the parties, although he added, “the School Committee doesn’t have an appetite to do that anymore.”

Avedisian thought resumption of mediation was possible. He has talked with School Committee Chair Bethany Furtado, but as of yesterday morning had not talked to Netcoh.

Ragosta, who has been acting as mediator for the past two years, said, “It has been a long process.” He felt with the union’s rejection of the last best mediated offer, which would have given teachers a 2.5 percent retroactive raise for last year and 3 percent raises this year and for 2018 and 2019, the committee is content to wait for the results of interest arbitration. Interest arbitration that paralleled mediation was finalized earlier this summer.

Arbitrator Michael Ryan shared his “leanings” with the union and School Committee and they were taken into consideration in the offer extended by the committee. The committee rejected the union’s counter offer of 3 percent raises retroactively for two years as well as the three years going forward.

“While interest arbitration may bind on some subjects,” Ragosta said, “It’s not binding on money.” He also noted from experience that “leanings are just that...an indication...and sometime when being written he’ll [Ragosta] will make adjustments.”

Ragosta thought that is “good reason” for the parties to “take ownership” of an agreement.

As to why the parties walked away from the table when there was optimism of an agreement on Aug. 23, Ragosta said that the School Committee limited what they would they would consider to the topics of the last best offer while the union looked to expand the scope of the talks.

“It got antagonistic and they dug in their heels,” he said.

Meanwhile, the union maintains that contract language is the most important element of negotiations for them, and Netcoh reported that she had already heard reports of several grievances from teachers across the district in regards to oversized classes and high percentages of students with IEPs in classrooms that exceeds the allowable amount of the previous CBA, including a Pilgrim class which allegedly had 21 of 26 students with an IEP.

Most egregious, according to Netcoh, are reports that students with IEPs in “various” elementary schools across the district are showing up to classes but are not being recorded on official class rosters, which Netcoh described as “wrong.”

Netcoh confirmed that teachers would engage in the accreditation process “as soon as there is an agreement.”

“Above all else teachers care about the contract language,” Netcoh said. “Our CBA represents 50 years of compromise… Teachers aren’t happy. Teachers are at work but obviously three years without a contract now, this isn’t right. [Superintendent] Phil Thornton has a contract. Would he be at work every day if he didn’t have a contract? No, he would not.”

Netcoh also said that the possibility of a strike is still “on the table.” Teacher strikes are illegal under state law.

Comments

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PaulHuff

Strange, the comments from Mrs. Netoch say that the teachers are mostly concerned about contract language....but negotiations broke down over the teachers not getting 3% retroactive raises.

The teachers seem to want to talk a good game but actions speak louder than words. They walked over retro raises because they want 15% in raises.

Let them strike. Warwick police can bring a bus and fill it up. Then they should all be fired just like Ronald Reagan did to ge air traffic controllers.

This nonsense has to stop.

Thursday, September 7
WarwickFreemason

Pathetic! In my humble opinion, there is a simple solution... Get rid of the unions and work on establishing more charter schools statewide. They should resign from their positions and work for a private or parochial school and do what they truly love to do, teach... Which they all say is want they just want to do! But, that doesn't pay as well nor are the benefits as good... so teachers, which it is, what is more important, the students or the pay and benefits? You don't have to answer, the question is rhetorical, we know the answer...

Thursday, September 7
Justanidiot

ef only all parties wood listen two the tickspayer mayer. gib da teachers wat day wants so dats ddey can learn are kids again

Thursday, September 7
JohnStark

"Teachers aren't happy." No surprise there.

Warwick teachers are some of the highest paid in the state. In exchange for this "investment", the State Department of Education tells us that fewer than 1 in 4 Warwick high school students demonstrates proficiency in Math, and barely 1 in 3 demonstrates basic Literacy. Both trail state averages, placing Warwick students at a competitive disadvantage in everything from college admissions to employability. If you think teachers "aren't happy", imagine how investors feel. Not one more nickel!!

Thursday, September 7
RISchadenfreude

Notice that they never picket during their vacations, but strike when classes resume?

Hey...I thought I heard somewhere that it was "All about the kids"...

In RI's (and New England's) abysmal economy, there must be plenty of qualified teachers looking for employment...replace these loafers.

Friday, September 8
ThatGuyInRI

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's about "contract language." Funny how it seems to break down over the WTU's demands for not a 3% raise but 3% for each of the last two years, and 3$ each of the next three. In a vacuum this isn't unreasonable, but in the reality of the fact that some school systems are getting 0% raises or even cuts in RI, 3%,3%,3%,3%, and 3% for an aggregate 15.9%. This type of raise hasn't been seen in a very long time. Most teachers in RI would run each other over in the effort to sign the offer of 2,3,3,3 they got.

It's time for the WTU to get real.

Friday, September 8
Thecaptain

Send them packing. The taxpayers cannot afford another penny. Retroactive raises should be out of the question. Is there retroactive activities for the kids that the teachers have boycotted for the last 3 years? Work to Rule prevented everything from parent teacher meetings to dances. These teachers are sub standard at best and deserve not another penny.

Friday, September 8
richardcorrente

Dear PaulHuff,

Do you know what happened in those private sessions? Netoch only states it has to do with "contract language". Are you making private information public? You say that the teachers negotiations "broke down over the teachers not getting 3% retroactive raises." Is that your opinion? I'm not trying to accuse. I'm just trying to separate fact from opinion.

Please respond.

Rick

Friday, September 8
CrickeeRaven

Hello PaulHuff:

Don't let the fake "mayor's" uninformed questions or baseless accusations bother you.

Below are links to information that he has been willfully ignoring while conducting his pathetic stealth campaign in the comment sections of this website.

This information proves what you state, and include already publicly-released details of the union's rejection of the contract offer made by the school committee:

https://warwickpost.com/update-warwick-school-committee-oks-mediated-teacher-contract-union-rejects-deal/

http://warwickonline.com/stories/teachers-reject-mediated-contract-offer,126005?

As you see, the fake "mayor" needs no help in continuing to make an embarrassing spectacle of himself and prove himself, yet again, to be utterly unfit for any office.

Friday, September 8
PaulHuff

Mr Corrente,

Just my opinion based upon the article. They walked over money, not contract language.

And if we remember around 2012 all the other unions provided givebacks to the city and took Zeros for raises. The teachers took 3% raises if I recall correctly. Now they want 3% retros also? They are greedy.

"Ragosta, who has been acting as mediator for the past two years, said, “It has been a long process.” He felt with the union’s rejection of the last best mediated offer, which would have given teachers a 2.5 percent retroactive raise for last year and 3 percent raises this year and for 2018 and 2019, the committee is content to wait for the results of interest arbitration. Interest arbitration that paralleled mediation was finalized earlier this summer.

Arbitrator Michael Ryan shared his “leanings” with the union and School Committee and they were taken into consideration in the offer extended by the committee. The committee rejected the union’s counter offer of 3 percent raises retroactively for two years as well as the three years going forward."

Saturday, September 9
Justanidiot

I hope that the General Assembly overrides the veto on municipal contracts. That way, we never have to go through this again. The teachers want to renegotiate, tell them no thanks. We will go by the contract that is in place. You want a raise. Too bad. You want different working conditions. Too bad. This could be used as the tool to finally break the teacher's strangle hold on the honest taxpayers of the state.

Tuesday, September 12
WarwickFreemason

Justanidiot-

You are far from an idiot! Your idea is brilliant! It seems so simple, doesn't it? You get it, I get it and the majority of the people posting here get it... We need to somehow get the "Powers That Be" get it...

Happy Waxing Moon Justanidiot

Happy Waxing Moon Everyone

The Taxpayers Freemason

Tuesday, September 12
CrickeeRaven

Hello WarwickFreemason:

Sorry as I am to correct your prior comment, the current moon phase is waning, not waxing. Here's a handy link to keep track: http://www.moongiant.com/phase/today/

Love your work, by the way.

Wednesday, September 13