For Immediate Release Contact:
November 2, 2018 Jeffrey Partington
Mayor Unable to Settle with Teachers
Yesterday the Honorable Mayor Baldelli-Hunt printed an open letter advertisement in the Valley Breeze. In that advertisement she posted the WTG “Best and Final” offer that was tendered in late August 2018. What she did not post was the City’s unreasonable “Best and Final” offer of 0% this year, 1.5% next year, and 1.75% the following year. “The Budget Commission gave teachers more than that at the end of our 8 year drought in pay, realizing the sacrifices we have made,” stated Jeffrey Partington, President of the Woonsocket Teachers’ Guild.
He continued, “Every day, qualified teachers go to more competitively paying districts. We are on the bottom of the pay scale in the state. If we accepted the City’s offer, then we would continue to be at the bottom of the pay scale in 2021; and we would not be able to compete for talented teachers especially in shortage areas such as Special Education, Math, and Science for our neediest students. You cannot put students first if you put teachers last, and that is exactly what is happening.”
The WTG negotiating position is out there in the open letter advertisement the Mayor posted. In response to the ad, Mr. Partington said, “It is clear that the Mayor does not want to negotiate in good faith. We knew our ‘Best and Final’ offer would have to remain high because nothing was happening in negotiations. When it became clear that there would be no movement from the city; we kept it artificially high, so that we would have room to compromise in mediation. We believe this is a reasonable action while dealing with an unreasonable Mayor.” The Mayor has complete control over all contracts at the present time, that power will transfer to the newly elected School Committee as the voters gave that power back in the special election on July 25.
Mr. Partington went on to say, “The City has kept the school funding flat for 6 years, and the Mayor has assumed there will be no additional monies from the city for another two. This is what contributed to the city’s disastrous condition in 2012 and letting the school system stagnate is her solution.”
Teachers not getting raises has contributed greatly to the surpluses that now exist in both the city and school department, and the City made no allowances in the budget knowing their contract was at the end. Partington finished with, “Fair and equitable is all in a democratic society. Teachers deserve a fair and equitable raise; and the citizens of Woonsocket deserve a Mayor that can compromise with all the City’s departments and unions.” He continued, “We are thankful for an incoming school committee that has indicated they want to work with us in the best interest of education in Woonsocket. We ask that reasonable school committee members help us settle this contract dispute quickly.”
Woonsocket Teachers' Guild, Local 951