Possible 'sick-out' plans squashed by teachers

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A source with knowledge of negotiations between the Warwick School Committee and the Warwick Teachers’ Union said late Wednesday afternoon that teachers were gearing up for a possible “sick-out” in lieu of going on an all-out strike as the impasse between securing a new collective bargaining agreement continues.

However the source later confirmed that the union ultimately took no such action, and will continue to await the findings of independent arbitration.

The source indicated that, in a prolonged debate between members of the union, some teachers felt they might suffer from a loss of public support if they were to engage in a sick-out or go on strike, the latter of which is illegal for teachers and public safety officials to do in Rhode Island. The last time a strike occurred was in 1992, and teachers were jailed as a result.

Murmurs began circulating on Tuesday that the Warwick Teachers’ Union would take the possibility of a strike to a vote. A similar measure reportedly did not make it to a vote in early September. As of press time, it was uncertain whether a motion to strike or engage in a sick-out was even brought forth to a vote, only that the final decision was to engage in neither action. The union will not meet for another month.

The two sides remain unable to reach an agreement as teachers are now a month into navigating the third consecutive school year without a contract.

The union maintains that they refuse to make concessions on what they consider crucial uncertainties regarding contractual language that would enforce smaller classroom sizes and equitable assigning of students with individual education programs (IEPs), in addition to their insistence that grievances filed stemming from violations of the old contract throughout the absence of a new agreement should remain valid.

Those representing the school administration stand firm that they have offered a more than fair financial package, which addresses years of retro-pay raises and would make top tier teachers among the highest paid in the state, and have tried to meet to discuss class size and IEP contractual language, but the union has refused to acquiesce to such requests.

The union has responded to that assertion by saying the school administration unfairly asked them to drop all their pending grievances and not discuss anything besides class sizes and IEP assigning as a condition for meeting, which they refuse to adhere to.

All of this is occurring as the long-awaited results of third party arbitration looms in the background, although it remains to be seen when those results will be released, or whether the union will ultimately accept the terms of such arbitration or not.

Comments

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JohnStark

"...suffer the loss of public support..."??? Sorry gang, but that ship has sailed.

Thursday, October 5
knowthetruth4

A "source" with info on contract negotiations? Sounds like the source could nogene 2018.

Thursday, October 5
Justanidiot

The teacher's showed them. They shut down Pilgrim! Now if they can do that at all the schools they can drive everyone away from Warwick!

Friday, October 6
Justanidiot

So, Friday's sickout at Pilgrim is not sanctioned by the union?

Sweet. Change the name of the teams from Patriots to Wildcats! (soon to be the Scabs)

Friday, October 6
CrickeeRaven

The writer may want to either get better sources or do better research: https://warwickpost.com/pilgrim-high-school-classes-canceled-today/

That the WTU didn't vote on a sick-out is a minor distinction that saves this article from requiring a full correction; nearly 100 teachers called in, hardly something that could be done without some sort of coordination.

What results are two possibilities: 1.) the union coordinated this sick out "informally" to provide itself some type of PR cover, or 2.) the teachers at Pilgrim defied their union for reasons that remain a mystery.

Friday, October 6
Bob_Cushman

CrickeeRaven: This is not unusual for the union to claim no knowledge of such detrimental actions towards the students. They did the same thing 12 years ago. See: http://warwickonline.com/stories/omission-of-teacher-comments-awakens-citys-sleeping-giant,3381?

The school system has been forced to down size for a decade, yet the WTU wants to keep the same old inefficient costly policies in place.

Its the same old tactics from some of the same people who were in charge during the last protracted labor dispute. And like in 2006 the only way schools will move forward is for new leadership at the WTU.

In the last 12 years the WSC has turned over many times, along with the Superintendent and top administrators. What's the common denominator to all these disputes? It's the WTU and the recalcitrant leadership.

Friday, October 6
CrickeeRaven

Hello, Bob_Cushman:

Thanks for the information. I agree that the WTU bears responsibility for its actions that have led to nearly three decades of this kind of easily-preventable drama. I also think that the membership should consider just how much damage they have done to themselves, professionally and personally, by agreeing to keep the same leadership in place for so long.

For example, they may get raises and some type of retroactive pay from the next contract; they should ask their leadership how much better of a deal they could have gotten by actually signing a new contract in 2015. They should also ask how much better their public image is after two years of "work to rule," issuing schoolyard taunts at the superintendent, and digging in their heels in the face of actual effort being made by the school committee to have a contract.

Unfortunately, as you point out, there is little reason to get one's hopes up, given the WTU's past behavior.

Friday, October 6
Bob_Cushman

This sick out at Pilgrim just might be the final straw that results in the 2017 version of the "Awaken of the Sleeping Giant", by parents who demand a change in union leadership and many of the rank and file teachers who are just as frustrated with what is going on and as you so accurately state, realize how much they have lost in not accepting the 2015 deal, start the process of electing new union leaders to get this contact settled.

Friday, October 6