Members of the Cranston Teachers Alliance, AFT Local 1704, RIFTHP, AFL-CIO, the teacher's union, unanimously adopted a resolution supporting union leaders in an effort to secure a fair and equitable contract settlement.
The CTA membership includes teachers, teacher assistants, bus aides and technical assistants employed by Cranston Public Schools.
“The membership is angry that the Cranston School Committee has used the threat of privatization as a bargaining ploy. They cannot believe that the School Committee refuses to offer modest increases for Cranston school workers who have had four years of pay freezes out of the last six years while incurring significant increases in medical insurance costs over the same time period,” said Lizbeth Larkin, president of the Cranston Teachers’ Alliance, and a social studies teacher at Park View Middle School. “I was pleased that there was such strong support of our approach to bargaining and a resounding rejection of school committee tactics.”
The resolution cited that the CTA had to file an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the Rhode Island State Labor Relations Board on June 12 in response to the privatization threat. The resolution also noted that increased state education aid and the loan forgiveness provided “resources more than adequate to offer modest pay raises.”
Larkin added, “CTA members feel that the Cranston School Committee has clearly forgotten the 2011 renegotiations by Cranston teachers that saved the city over $5.1 million that helped preserve education programs. All we want is a fair and reasonable economic package that recognizes past sacrifices.”
Here is the full text of the resolution:
Whereas: The Cranston School Committee has threatened to privatize teacher assistants and other employees in bargaining units represented by the Cranston Teachers’ Alliance (CTA) in response to a rejection of School Committee demands to increase medical insurance cost-sharing to 20% of premium. Those bargaining units currently pay 15% of premium. The CTA responded on Thursday, June 12, 2014 with the filing of an Unfair Labor Practice with the Rhode Island State Labor Relations Board;
Whereas: The Cranston School Committee has failed to offer fair compensation to CTA members after they gave the highest paid school employees, school administrators, raises this school year. One School Committee member acknowledged at negotiations that Cranston teacher assistants were the lowest paid in the State.
Whereas: The Cranston School Committee will benefit from over $3.5 million in additional state funding next year while being alleviated from making the final $1.2 million loan repayment to the City of Cranston. The CTA considers these resources more than adequate to offer modest pay raises to all Cranston employees next year.
Whereas: In 2011, in light of a fiscal crisis, the Cranston Teachers’ Alliance renegotiated a collective bargaining agreement that eliminated a scheduled pay raise and revised the salary steps to save the Cranston School Department $5.1 million. This demonstrates that current Cranston School Committee leadership has forgotten recent sacrifices made by Cranston teachers and the significant sacrifices made by Cranston teachers in prior years.
Whereas: Since the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year through the 2013-2014 school year, teacher assistants, bus aides and technical assistants have had four(4) years of 0% pay raises and two(2) modest 1.5% raises. In that time, medical insurance cost-sharing increased from 3% of premium to 15% of premium.
Whereas: Since the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year through the 2013-2014 school year, teachers have had four(4) years of 0% pay raises, one 2.25% raise for everyone and one 1% raise for top step teachers. In that time, medical insurance cost-sharing increased from 5% of premium to 20% of premium.
Whereas: On Monday June 16, 2014 the Cranston School Committee adopted a school calendar removing religious holidays from the calendar that are listed as paid holidays in two(2) CTA contracts. The proposed school calendar was only made available for review on Friday, June 13. The adopted calendar will restrict students and staff from observing recognized religious holidays in the 2014-2015 school year. The adopted school calendar is an illegal unilateral change in working conditions.
Whereas: As evidenced by the June 16 press release of Cranston Public Schools, CPS Superintendent Judith Lundsten has joined the efforts of the Cranston School Committee to deny a fair and equitable contract for CTA members. The press release criticizes the CTA filing of an Unfair Labor Practice but does not apologize for threatening teacher assistant jobs as a bargaining ploy. Her press release also fails to support increasing the compensation of those who work in Cranston Public Schools despite her support for administrative pay raises.
Therefore be it resolved: The membership of the Cranston Teachers’ Alliance supports the approach the CTA negotiations committee has taken on our behalf to reject concessionary bargaining and to employ all necessary tactics to obtain a fair contact for all CTA members.