We teach students that there are consequences for their actions and choices. Well, there should be consequences for the INaction of adults as well.
Teachers, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers and custodial workers have been without a contract in Lowell for over 450 days. My understanding – as I am recently retired, I no longer attend union informational meetings – is that this is driven by several factors. Included in the list of factors would be cancelled and perpetually postponed meetings of the negotiating teams. That in itself surely does not indicate that contracts are of high – or actually any – priority.
I’ve heard the reports of concessions, not the specifics. However, it is an election year; it would not be unreasonable to think some who are negotiating the contracts with the Unions would like to make a grand political statement.
With tight municipal budgets, no one is expecting exorbitant monetary increases, like the 15% pay raise I learned of for a first-year hire at a private corporation. And just as a point of interest, even retirees (not from this past June, but all prior retirees) received a cost of living raise of 3% from the Commonwealth’s Teacher Retirement Board. (The details and the history of which are found here.)
I am concerned by the reports of demands in the negotiations. No, I don’t know specifics, but asking for additional time (longer days? less preparation? longer school years?), giving back previously negotiated benefits, those things represent a disrespect for the talented people who make this school system one of the best achieving urban districts in Massachusetts.
One financial impact of this is that, hard-earned pensions are calculated based upon a salary rate that has not changed for 450 days. For those who may not know, pension benefits are based on a formula which includes an average of three highest years of earning (for most teachers, that would be the last 3 years of service). Thus, the pension that recent retirees have earned will be impacted for the rest of their lives. That’s not insignificant. Nor is it fair.
The consequence? I am a registered voter who is doing due diligence. I am watching the field of candidates for school and city offices. The consequence of inaction, will indeed be action.