November 16, 2018

 

Woonsocket, RI - Superintendent Patrick McGee cancelled school today due to the large amount of teachers that called out sick last night.   “I can only speculate on the reason why so many people have called out on this day,” stated Roxane Cary, Executive Vice President of the Woonsocket Teachers’ Guild. “This year has been taxing for every public school teacher and paraprofessional in the city. After several months of ongoing contract negotiations that ended in an impasse, we entered into mediation. But, after three meetings, mediation hasn’t allowed us to move forward as much as we had hoped.  It just doesn’t appear that the City’s negotiation team is interested in giving us a fair and reasonable contract. This lack of respect from the City over the past year has lead to an increasing amount of stress being placed on our membership, and this stress can take the form of physical illness.”

The City’s Negotiation team will end its participation in these proceedings once the new School Committee takes office next month.  Ms. Cary went on to say, “Our membership is a group of hard-working people; but stress is seen at all levels, in every school, because they work with no contract.  We hope this changes once the School Committee comes to the table.  We hope to get a fair deal.”

FYI

Woonsocket Teachers’ Guild.

Giveback History

Spring 2006. We negotiated a 3-year contract with a 10.5% raise over the course of those three years, 3%, 3.5%, 4%.  On the last day of the contract in 2009, the base salary would increase by 1.5%. This was agreed upon because the Fire and Police contracts included a 12% pay increase over this three-year period and it was thought fair by all involved that the teachers should receive the same.

Spring 2008. Woonsocket Schools were level funded by the State, and the City increased their contribution by only $300,000. This left the city to be in a deficit due to rising costs.  The WTG renegotiated our contract in order to help the city.

  • We agreed to receive a 2% raise in the fall of 2008 and an additional 2% raise in the Spring of 2009. In essence, we gave up 1% of our negotiated raises ($350,000), 
    • That 1% was deferred, to be paid back anytime in the next 5 years.
    • As of this date, we have not received this back.
  • We agreed to a pay freeze at this 2009 level until June 2011.
  • We agreed to defer the 1.5% increase (about $500,000) that was supposed to be added to our basis in June of 2009.

Spring 2009. The State once again announced cuts for the 2009-2010 school year.  This put Woonsocket in a deficit of about $5 million. At this point, the Woonsocket Education Department offered competitive salaries when compared to other cities in the state. Once again, we opened our contract, and renegotiated. This contract expired June 30, 2013.  In that renegotiation we gave back approximately $3.6 Million annually.

  • We agreed to keep the salary frozen at the 2009 level until 2013.
  • We gave up claims to the two (2) deferments agreed upon in Spring 2008.
  • We changed to a $500/$1000 deductible healthcare plan and everyone went to a 20% co-pay (highest in the state).

Spring 2013. The budget commission came to Woonsocket. Clearly, the City was in crisis, and at this point, those of us at tenth step were making less than most top step teachers in the state.  Despite this, we agreed to a 5-year contract to help the city.

  • We received the 1.5% increase in our base that was deferred in the Spring of 2008. In actuality, this was swallowed up by rising health care cost.
  • We agreed to keep the salary frozen at this level until 2017.
  • In the 2017-2018 school year, we received a 2% raise. 
  • In June 2018, the basis was increased by 2% by the Budget Commission as acknowledgment that we had made considerable concessions.

In short, the raises we received between 2009 - 2017 were:

‘09-’10

‘10-’11

‘11-’12

‘12-’13

0%

0%

0%

0%

 

‘13-’14

‘14-’15

‘15-’16

‘16-’17

0%

0%

0%

0%

 

And, per the negotiations from 2013, this is what was given in 2017-2018.

 

‘17-’18

June 2018

2%

2%

 

Summer 2018. Top step teachers, which comprise 60% of our members, are still the lowest paid in the state.  At this time, Woonsocket has improved its financial standing because of what we have sacrificed and given back since the Spring of 2008 (see chart above); and because the local contribution to education has remained the same since 2013.  We came to an impasse in contract negotiations because what was offered was not an appropriate response to all that we’ve done to help this city. 

Our history speaks for itself.  There is no spin; there is simply the truth.

 

Roxane Cary, Executive Vice-President

Woonsocket Teachers' Guild, Local 951

401-769-5320

 

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