Chariho School Parents’ Forum

October 1, 2007

“Chariho negotiations come to a halt”

Filed under: contract negotiations,Unions — Editor @ 1:09 pm

From the Providence Journal.

PS.  Don’t the last two post titles just say it all!



  1. Well? Anyone know if they’re striking?

    The Press Release said parents would have fair and ample warning, but I rather hear before 7:20 am, this is Chariho.

    Comment by Student — October 1, 2007 @ 5:35 pm | Reply

  2. Word on any action will be posted on the Chariho. Best to check there first –

    Comment by Bill Felkner — October 1, 2007 @ 6:05 pm | Reply

  3. have they cancelled school yet

    Comment by student — October 1, 2007 @ 8:40 pm | Reply

  4. I have been reading the information regarding contracts for school workers in the Westerly Sun. WHY can’t we just privatize this staff? Certainly, we would be better off if the janitors, clerical staff and maintenance staff had the leadership and training such a contract could bring to CHARIHO, along with the lower wages and benefit package.
    When I worked for a large corporation, janitorial service was put out to bid. The company was responsible for training and education as well as quality control. Those services are sorely needed at CHARIHO. It must be discouraging for the hard workers to show up, try and do a good job, and be paid at the same rate as those who just don’t care about their work.
    When I traveled, I noted that the hotel workers were held to a rigorous standard. They had definite assignments, a time schedule, and a list of expectations for their area. The supervisor checked their work and the cleanliness of the rooms after they had cleaned them. They had a time frame in which to strip the beds and bath of linens, clean and dust the room, replenish the linens and towels, remake the beds, wash the tub, commode, sink, floor and mirror. I see no such standard of work product in our schools. Soap dispensers are left without soap, bathrooms are dirty, walls and floors are sometimes filthy, and no supervisor is in sight. The good, hard working individuals are pulled down to the standard of the poor performers, as they only need to show up for work, make the motions and the raises will come. No amount of financial incentive or spending is going to change this culture unless we hire a forbid private contractor. At least THEN we can set standards of care, expectations for performance and the ability to change for the better.
    Most certainly, the janitors and the maintenance staff needs to be looked at for privatization. How else can we save money and get the most value for our money. Current supervision, direction and leadership in our current scenario are nonexistent.

    Comment by Georgies Mom — October 2, 2007 @ 3:01 pm | Reply

  5. Well, let’s just do something to fix it. No need for everyone to be on edge if there may or may not be a strike. Perhaps the union shouldn’t talk about such options as a strike during state testing, if they don’t intend on doing it. That’s just false threats and trying to scare the administration.

    I agree, I think there should be more consistancy with the staff. Some of the bathrooms are absolutley disgusting. I know some kids do disgusting stuff, but there’s no reason for it to stay there for a week.

    Never mind the graffiti.

    Comment by student — October 2, 2007 @ 3:59 pm | Reply

  6. This is to Georgies Mom, you sound like your a rep from one of these companies that would like to take over. Perhaps you should look into other failed attempt by other school districts that tried privatized cleaning compaines. As far a your trips go, we are cleaning schools not hotels. The buildings are being used constantly, there are approximatly 1200 students in the middle and high school, and about 300-500 in the elementary. Once again if you run out of supplies and your money is gone, your out of luck. It just seems that every time they cut the budget they take from the cleaning staff. As far as schedule’s go yes they have them, but when your called for emergencies, they have to be done right away not after you do your normal cleaning. The bathrooms tend to get dirty when you have kids in and out of them all day long. As far as the cleaning sevices go they employ many immigrants who can’t speak or even read English, which is very dangerous with the chemicals that are being used. And do they have high school diplomas? This is required by the Chariho School District. Georgies Mom apparentaly doesn’t realize what is involved with cleaning a school. This is a very dangerous job. You can slip and fall, your inhailing fumes from the chemicals, your lifting heavy objects, your dealing with sicks kids, shoveling snow. This is a far cry from cleaning a hotel.

    Comment by concerned parent — October 2, 2007 @ 4:33 pm | Reply

  7. One problem with privatization, and I’m a big proponent, is the turnover in staff in custodial type positions.

    I too worked for a company that used contracted services. While the supervision level employee was pretty stable, the actual workers were always changing as the low pay and hard work did not foster employment stability.

    With the emphasis we place on school safety these days, I could see a lot of discomfort with a contant changing work force. With the current set-up, at least the custodial employees seem to stick around.

    Personally, I’d rather see a stable staff with benefits and pay SLIGHTLY above the more unstable private sector. I’d also like to see the current structure include more rigorous standards and much greater accountability. This would include much more simple rules for quickly dismissing substandard employees.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see unions ever agreeing to private sector type emloyment standards. That being the case, I guess I would reluctantly support privatization.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 2, 2007 @ 4:42 pm | Reply

  8. Good, private help is ALWAYS the first choice. BUT we are bogged down with poor management, difficult methods of attempting to set standards, no supervision of staff, and a union that makes it impossible to require a standard work product, that we must look to a private firm. I would also vote for private help with a method of financial reward for exceptional work, and a more moderate method of pay increases for standard work progress. So what is the solution? As good leaders say, “The Buck stops here” Sadly, you will never hear that from OUR “Leaders”, and I lay the blame for inefficent management, insufficent maintenance, and an exceptionally poor performance over all areas of education right in the lap of Mr Ricci.

    Comment by Georgies Mom — October 2, 2007 @ 5:13 pm | Reply

  9. Dear concerned parent

    Dangerous chemicals? I doubt it! What “dangerous chemicals” are you talking about! Can’t be much different then what a hotel would use.

    Comment by Georgies Mom — October 2, 2007 @ 5:24 pm | Reply

  10. So much for the school site keeping us posted. The Westerly Sun is offering an article about an apparent mediation between both sides with a Warwick attorney. To view the whole article, I need a payed subscription.

    The school site? Still offering the same Press Release from the 29th. Yeesh.

    Comment by Student — October 2, 2007 @ 6:10 pm | Reply

  11. Georgies Mom still sounds like a cleaning agency. The chemicals we use are corrosive. Do you need to use stripper to strip a floor? Try inhaleing that stuff, talk about taking your breath away and it is like walking on ice. If they are not dangerous then why do we need an MSDS sheet? DUH, because they are DANGEROUS and they have federal guide lines for the usage of these chemecials because they are dangerous. I hate to sound nasty, but until you work with the stuff then you don’t know what we have to deal with. Your not as informed as you would like to think you are. You might run a cleaning agency but have you ever use the chemicals yourself?

    Comment by concerned parent — October 2, 2007 @ 6:26 pm | Reply

  12. I doubt any of the cleaning agents are dangerous in an environment where kids are around.

    An MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) is required for all commercial chemicals. This includes food chemicals which are hardly dangerous.

    If you read the MSDS for flour, you’d think it was nitroglycerine due to all the warnings about it being explosive. If a person doesn’t know any better, an MSDS can scare the heck out of you.

    If used properly, I’m sure the cleaning agents are fine.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 2, 2007 @ 6:35 pm | Reply

  13. Yes if they are used correctly they are fine but if you get a cleaning agency in there with illegal aliens who can’t speak English never mind read it, the chemicals are very dangerous. If they are accidently spilled on ones self you would get burned. Yes dangerous chemicals are used in a school with the kids because the kids are not the ones doing the cleaning the custodial staff is. If you remember correctly the kids are the ones making the mess. I’m sorry but the chemicals used in the school are dangerous. Stripper mixed properly will still burn you, take your breath away and is like walking on ice.

    Comment by concerned parent — October 2, 2007 @ 6:44 pm | Reply

  14. The issue of MSDS provides an excellent illustration of the cost of an overly intrusive government In doing some research on MSDS, I found a website with copies of Chicago Tribune articles written by nationally syndicated columnist Mike Royko. Mr. Royko humorously reports that there is an MSDS for water.

    The website is here:

    If you read the articles you’ll find that the government didn’t create the MSDS for water, but because businesses fear being sued for stupid reasons and because you can never tell how government will act, at least one company did pay for an MSDS for water!

    Hilarious example of the direction of society when government micromanages all aspects of our lives.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 2, 2007 @ 7:07 pm | Reply

  15. Y know what, i would like to see all of you, go to one the schools in the district and do the job of a custodian. its hard work and dangerous. i know first hand because i know someone very well who is in that department. you can go ahead and say you have to have the MSDS sheet for anything even if it isnt dangourous. do you really think it is easy to take care of a school? you have the students who try to mkae the biggest messes possible! and to Geogeis Mom i would really like to see you do it. you wouldnt be able to! hate to tell you but none of you even have a half a clue about whats going on or even how to do any of it. you think your so smart with these things but you need to take a nice hard look at what your saying, its rediculas that makes no sense. im a student i know the janitors. if you can do a better job, then apply for the damn postion!

    Comment by The child — October 3, 2007 @ 10:18 am | Reply

  16. This is what the private sector has to offer
    Georgies Mom!

    Dead school custodian was registered sex offender
    A 37-year-old custodian who died accidentally at Chisholm Trail Middle School in Rhome was a registered sex offender, school officials said Wednesday.

    Jose Hector Cortes-Lopez was found about 1 a.m. Tuesday in an athletic locker room. He had a plastic trash bag over his head and had apparently accidentally suffocated, Rhome police Sgt. Jennifer Ruiz, said.

    Cortes-Lopez worked for GCA Services Group, which provides custodial services at Northwest schools under contract.

    GCA runs background checks on employees, but Cortes-Lopez presented false identification under the name “Hector Garza” and was able to pass the check, Northwest district spokeswoman Lesley Weaver, said.

    Cortes-Lopez lived in Fort Worth. He was convicted last year of indecent exposure, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety Web site. His risk level was listed as high.

    Sarah Bahari, Fort Worth Star Telegram

    Comment by petegingras — October 3, 2007 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

  17. While sex offenders in school should be a concern to us all, don’t let Petey scare you (a common NEA tactic). Sex offenders come from all walks of life and can actually be union members…believe it or not.

    Here is startling information about sexual misconduct in schools. According to the report, teachers followed by coaches, substitute teachers, bus drivers and teacher aides are the most likely to engage in sexual misconduct. Custodians/janitors aren’t even mentioned. The story is from the liberal Associated Press (meaning they are pro-union):

    Millions of Children Sexually Abused by School Employees

    WASHINGTON – More than 4.5 million children are forced to endure sexual misconduct by school employees, from inappropriate comments to physical abuse, according to an exhaustive review of research that reads like a parent’s worst nightmare.

    The best estimate is that almost one in 10 children, sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade, are targets of behavior ranging from unprofessional to criminal, says the report for Congress by Charol Shakeshaft, a professor at Hofstra University’s School of Education.

    “Most people just don’t think this can really happen,” said Shakeshaft, hired by the Education Department to study the prevalence of sexual abuse in schools. “We imagine that all teachers are like most teachers, in that they’ve gone into teaching to help children. Most do, but not all. We need to acknowledge that’s the case and do something to stop it.”

    The report, required under the No Child Left Behind law and delivered to Congress on Wednesday, is the first to analyze the field of research about sexual misconduct at school.

    Some educators immediately took issue with its approach, mainly the combining of sexual abuse with other behavior, such as gestures or notes, into one broad misconduct category.

    But another prominent researcher supported the findings, suggesting, as Shakeshaft did, that they might even understate the problem. American Association of University Women, whose surveys of pupils were at the core of the new report, stood by its research.

    There have been no nationally financed studies to collect data about how common sexual misconduct is in school, one of many areas Shakeshaft suggests must be addressed. Her analysis covered almost 900 documents and reviews that have dealt with the topic in some way, from private research and newspaper stories to reports for government agencies.

    What she found portrays a problem that, no matter how uncommon, united groups of teachers, superintendents, parents and education leaders in concern and disgust.

    The report describes schools as places where abusers come to prey, targeting vulnerable and marginal pupils who are afraid to complain or unlikely to be believed if they did. It describes adults who trap, lie and isolate children, making them subject to unwanted behavior in hallways, offices, buses or even right in front of other pupils in class. And the offenders work hard to keep children from telling, threatening to fail or humiliate them.

    Broad Definition Includes Jokes

    Misconduct is defined in the report as physical, verbal or visual behavior, from sexually related jokes or pictures of sex to fondling of breasts and forced sex. Shakeshaft did not limit her review to sexual abuse because, she says, that would exclude other unacceptable adult behaviors that can drive children from school and harm them for years.

    Yet spokesman Michael Pons of National Education Association, a union of 2.7 million school workers, said: “Lumping harassment together with serious sexual misconduct does more harm than good by creating unjustified alarm and undermining confidence in public schools. Statistically, public schools remain one of the safest places for children to be.”

    NEA, he added, took any sexually inappropriate behavior seriously, training teachers and working with the Education Department on rules banning harassment in schools.

    The other large teachers union, American Federation of Teachers, also found fault with the report’s description of misconduct, and Eugene Hickok, the deputy education secretary, said the findings were so broad they could be viewed as “insufficiently focused.” But those officials, too, did nothing to downplay the importance of the problem.

    “Clearly, sexual predators have no place in public schools,” said John Mitchell, deputy director of educational issues at AFT. “We support background checks, and when someone has gotten through, they need to be removed. And other inappropriate behaviors must be attended to, also. We just really need to have an effort to separate the two.”

    The report found teachers were the most common offenders, followed by coaches, substitute teachers, bus drivers and teacher aides. Among students, 56 percent of those targeted are girls, and 44 percent are boys, a smaller gap than commonly expected, Shakeshaft said.

    Robert Shoop, a Kansas State University professor of education law and expert on sexual exploitation in schools, said the estimate of one in 10 children affected was not high. The actual number might be larger, he said, because of historical underreporting of the problem.

    “Children need to be very clearly educated about inappropriate behaviors, and teachers do too, so when children see the earliest signs of this behavior, they have someone to tell,” Shoop said. “But often, parents say, ‘Mind your teacher.’ So it’s very unlikely that this 10-year-old kid is going to rip the teacher’s hands off and say, ‘Back off.'”

    © 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 3, 2007 @ 3:30 pm | Reply

  18. Okay that was very interesting, BUT what does this have to do about the contract not being setteled? I would like to thank “The Child” for sticking up for us. The students do see alot of the stuff that happens during the day and they even get sick or disgusted from it. As far as the sexual misconduct in school, that’s what back ground checks are for. If they slip by then someone isn’t doing their job. As far as the “hiring an outside contract for cleaning” goes, the story about Cortez-Lopez should drive home the point of all your out side cleaning companies hiring any body with a pulse to work for them.

    Comment by concerned parent — October 3, 2007 @ 5:00 pm | Reply

  19. – Concerned Parent you are very welcome. i will do everythin i can to voice my opinon on these matters even if people disagree with me. but i want you to know that i will stick by the support staff with their contracts.

    Comment by The child — October 3, 2007 @ 5:08 pm | Reply

  20. Well,if the “Cleaning Company” has a sex offender because they will hire any body with a pulse, HOW do you explain the recent barage of sex offender TEACHERS in the news? Employees of any agency/town/government can be vetted as well as what CHARIHO does to background check THEIR employees. CHARIHO is NOT unique in their requirements for background checks. ANY company providing services has a contract outlining the steps they must take to background check, train, supervise, and quality control the work done by their employees. Sex Offenders are not limited to private contractors, that’s for sure.

    Comment by Georgies Mom — October 3, 2007 @ 5:58 pm | Reply

  21. Hearing about something multiple times in the news more doesn’t mean it’s happening more, it means:

    a. People are more interested
    b. It’s become profitable

    Also, while I’m semi-impartial to this whole thing, using “what-if” sex offenders to back up your argument, is ridiculous. I think if your argument has been so beaten in to the ground you have to say “Well, a privatized janitor might touch your children”, you’ve already lost. Unfortunately, sickies come in all shapes and sizes.

    Anyways, I know I keep saying it, but I wish the official school site did a better job keeping everyone posted on this thing. I’m having to go through numerous outlets just to have a vague idea on whats going on. From what I understand now, the Warwick attorney didn’t want to take the mediation case.

    Comment by Anonymous Student — October 3, 2007 @ 7:32 pm | Reply

  22. I agree that it is pretty pathetic when a union rep for the support staff would use the ruse of a sexual offender. He uses this bogus argument because unions know that if they say it loud enough and often enough some people will begin to believe them. Before too long things may turn in their direction.

    The internet is a wonderful thing as lies can be identified and researched so quickly that damage is minimized.

    As for Chariho keeping us informed…why should they start now? They’re so conditioned to keeping the community in the dark, they probably have no clue how to communicate with the public. Fortunately, Mr. Felkner, through this website, fills in the huge void

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 3, 2007 @ 7:51 pm | Reply

  23. Frankly, the issue with sex offenders is quite the opposite. In the private market, if a company has a violator, the company owns some liability if they don’t do everything possible to avoid the problem. But in the unions, if the employee wants to fight it, they are protected by lawyers paid for by union dues.

    Here is an article in the NY Post – teacher sending sexual emails to student – have the proof – can’t fire him so they pay him to not teach.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — October 3, 2007 @ 10:45 pm | Reply

  24. Excellent editorial in The Chariho Times about the Support Staff contract dispute.

    Not often do I have the pleasure of crediting the media with understanding the position of those of us not employed by government, but in this editorial at least, the local media demonstrates common sense.

    Over the years, I’ve sat in numerous company meetings where employees, myself included, were told of unfavorable changes to healthcare, retirement, and salary structures. In the 1990’s, it seemed we’d lose something every year.

    Sure, we whined and complained, but we didn’t walk off the job, and down deep, we knew that our company needed to be successful or we wouldn’t have a job…so we begrudingly accepted more of the financial burdens of life.

    Government workers have escaped our reality for far too long. While the rest of have seen stagnant raises, declining healthcare coverage, and the end of pensions, government workers have continued to demand and get raises and benefits far exceeding that of the private sectors…you remember us, we pay the bills.

    This big gap between private employees and government employees needs to be narrowed as acknowledged by The Chariho Times.

    An excerpt followed by a link to the editorial:

    “The mindset of many union workers is one of entitlement whereby when their original deal starts to change they feel very slighted. Why should I have to pay more for my healthcare?
    They can’t change our step increases? We can hear the protests.

    We understand this but this is the way of the world these days. Employees at huge private companies have lost retirements they were promised – IBM, General Motors. Towns and cities are going bankrupt on the backs of school and municipal employees and their pensions.”

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 4, 2007 @ 10:46 am | Reply

  25. Curious Resident, you are RIGHT! When I worked for a large company, we changed our benefit program from an all inclusive method of “everything” to a cafeteria plan. EVERY employee was alloted a certain amount of money, and it was used to buy health care, insurance, a whole menu of choices. If you did not need healthcare, you would use your allotment to perhaps purchase another type of insurance or some other benefit, or you would receive a cash disbursment. You did have to have health insurance of some kind in order to decline coverage. The employee would chose if they wanted a high deductible, low deductible, family or single coverage health insurance, and of course the purchase amount was different for each. If you wanted more insurance then the allowance you were given, you purchased it! Excess spending over the allotment was deducated from your pay. NOT ONE EMPLOYEE QUIT because of the change in benefits! Perhaps we could consider going to such a plan to purchase health insurance, personal time to be used as sick time or personal days, and all of the other expected benefits up front. THEN there would be NO buy back at the end of employment, and certainly not the large amount of money “given back” for unpurchased benefits!

    Comment by Georgies Mom — October 4, 2007 @ 1:55 pm | Reply

  26. I had forgotten about the personal days, holidays, sick days and assorted other goodies that government employees get far superior to what we get in private employment.

    With my present employer I get 5 personal days, 5 sick days, 8 holiday and 2 weeks vacation with 3 weeks after 10 years. Last year I used no sick days, 2 personal days and 8 vacation days. I didn’t get to carry any days over or get reimbursed for the days. Does anyone in the school system want to trade with me?

    Here we are paying their salaries and benefits and everything they get from us is better than we have ourselves. We must be idiots if we continue to agree to these overly generous contracts.

    I love the idea of a set amount spent on benefits of their choice. I worked for a company a while back that had a similar plan. With a set amount, as costs go up, the employees would have the choice of paying the extra amount or decreasing their benefits. Welcome to our world!

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 4, 2007 @ 2:07 pm | Reply

  27. WELCOME TO OUR WORLD. If we had to pay for insurance, that would be no problem. We are not being greedy. As a matter of fact, not only may we have to pay for insurance, they want to TAKE from our vacation, TAKE from our sick time, and not give a raise so they can have you send all your money directly to them so that they can “improve” the school with our tax money. The school’s don’t NEED improvement. The bathrooms are usable and clean, The rooms and furniture and all fine. You can walk on the floors and sit at the desks. The locker rooms look better at the high school than they do at the middle school. THE MIDDLE SCHOOL IS NEWER!”. But please give him your money so he can use if foolishly!!! I’M NOT!!!!

    Comment by concerned parent — October 4, 2007 @ 6:36 pm | Reply

  28. Concerned Parent- Thank you for that. You are totaly right. Wasnt their a bond givin for like 300,000 for HV to replace the windows?? What happend to that??? I dont see new windows, do you?

    Comment by The Child — October 4, 2007 @ 6:48 pm | Reply

  29. WELL, guess what? The WORLD is becoming leaner. I know of a company that evaluates each employee and gives a raise based on their performance. (NO “STEP” increaes or longevity…if you are promototed, then that is a higher pay scale, but promotion is based on performance and ability) If the employee falls into the lower 10% of performance evaluation for two or more years in a row, consider your self on the way OUT! Add to that an annual evaluation by co workers and supervisors, and a review of your own self evaluation. Expect to do a yearly review of your goals and aaccomplishments, and what you have done for the company. Also provide a plan for the NEXT years goals, and how you plan to accomplish them. Welcome to MY world!

    Comment by Georgies Mom — October 5, 2007 @ 5:45 am | Reply

  30. Thats all good n all, but your world isnt the world of the school is it? if the school did that it would be differnt but they dont, so you can stay in your own world

    Comment by The child — October 5, 2007 @ 9:00 am | Reply

  31. But child, we can no longer afford to keep you in a different world. Those of us in this world need you to join us in our world. C’mon in, the water is warm.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 5, 2007 @ 10:52 am | Reply

  32. Come on, Child….join us in the REAL world, where you are rewarded for your accomplishments, and where the laggard is put out to pasture! Where you can count on advancement based on your dedication and increased skills, and look forward to increasing responsibility, motivation, and a sense of a fair reward for your labor! Who knows, you may then be self motivated enough to continue your education and apply for and obtain an even more lucrative job! THAT is the American way! Isn’t America wonderful?

    Comment by Georgies Mom — October 5, 2007 @ 11:21 am | Reply

  33. Dear child,

    If you are 17, you will be a wonderful addition to our work world very shortly – paying taxes, rent, insurances, etc. You probably pay some of this now. And if you go to college you will have an enormous amount to repay the world once you graduate. No more tax payer subsidy.

    CR is right though, it’s a good world and hard work gets you noticed and enjoyed and respected.

    Comment by BarbaraC — October 5, 2007 @ 11:30 am | Reply

  34. To all the chariho esp- DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP-STAND TOGETHER-WE CAN’T DO IT WITHOUT YOU!With all the hackiling that is going on, a lot of imformation is getting out to the public in favor of you,let the blog get you your raise you deserve.Remember-STAND TOGETHER,you are stronger!

    Comment by concerned parent — October 6, 2007 @ 1:54 pm | Reply

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