Aug 31, 2017
A new contract between the Warwick Teachers Union and Warwick School Department, overdue since 2015, remains in the aspirational realm after the union rejected the district’s latest offer
What that offer entails is not clear, since the negotiations are typically conducted behind closed doors and the WTU and School Department offer conflicting accounts of events.
Darlene Netcoh, president of the Warwick Teachers Union, said the Warwick School Committee, the union, Mayor Scott Avedisian and mediator attorney Vincent Ragosta met to reach a collective bargaining agreement.
“Although the Warwick Teachers’ Union (WTU) was willing to negotiate, the Warwick School Committee gave us a ‘take it or leave it offer’ in which they imposed a new demand that we drop all impending grievances, some of which affect individual teachers and some that address violations of longstanding language in the CBA. If we were to acquiesce to such a demand, then we would not be able to challenge the WSC’s violations of the CBA and have a neutral arbitrator hear and decide each case.
Netcoh said the School Committee also decided to accept the interest arbitrator’s ‘leanings,’ written in an internal document before the three-member interest arbitration panel and were not to be shared or discussed outside of the panel. She said the ‘leanings’ do not constitute a final decision, which will come at the conclusion of the process after at least the next scheduled meeting of the panel.
“Yesterday the WTU presented a counter offer to the WSC’s ‘take it or leave it offer’ and was willing to stay and negotiate, but they rejected it and walked out. Despite the behavior of the WSC, the WTU is still willing to meet with them and the mediators and properly conclude negotiations,” Netcoh said.
“Regarding finances, the WSC is promulgating a proposed 12% raise. However, they have miscalculated the percentages that they have offered and have not taken into consideration the two years of no raises. Over the past two years, the WTU has made concessions that the WSC requested. However, there are subject matters that still need finalization, such as class size and the assignment of special education teachers to classrooms, which directly affect the education of students. Warwick teachers will continue to advocate for learning conditions for our students, and the WTU looks forward to returning to negotiations/mediation.”