Chariho School Parents’ Forum

March 26, 2008

Response to the NEA

Filed under: contract negotiations,Unions — Editor @ 9:00 pm

From today’s Westerly Sun:

NEA takes wrong view of pay for performance proposal in Chariho   

Taxpayers should know how politicians spend their money. In this effort, I provide the public with all the appropriate infor­mation available to me as their representative.

The National Education Association (NEA), specifically Carri Barr, presi­dent of the Chariho NEA, is try­ing to convince you that this will result in more money for the unions. 

I appreciate their concerns, but the NEA, more than anyone, should remember how well tax­payers did when the meetings were open to the public. There is no law requiring this secrecy. 

Mrs. Barr and I sat across the negotiations table last year. I wish you were there — here’s what you missed. 

Almost all public union con­tracts give raises based on inputs (education and seniority) and not outputs (job perform­ance). The absolute worst employee makes the same money as anyone else with the same inputs.

So the school com­mittee tried to introduce a per­formance- based pay structure just like the majority of taxpay­ers use. Good work equals good pay. Bad work equals bad pay. But the union said “No.” 

The NEA feared that the administration would allocate raises based on political favors rather than job performance. They presume that those admini­strators would not be held accountable. 

They will. But those same administrators were once union members, so it’s both ironic and not surprising that the NEA fights to keep their current membership from being held accountable for their own job performance. 

So we tried to implement a bonus system based on the num­ber of days an employee was absent [this is a huge problem for some.] But again, the NEA said, “No.” They want all employees treated “equally.” 

Here we see the difference between today’s public unions and the competitive system used in most of America: Equity ver­sus Fairness. Is it fair that an employee who works harder and smarter, day after day, is paid less than someone taking the easy road simply because of the day they were hired? No. But the NEA thinks that it is equi­table. 

So the NEA refused all per­formance- based pay. Sub-com­mittee chairman Andy Polouski [former teacher of 34 years] warned of strike and Carri wore a button threatening the same. Because I am only one vote, the negotiations sub-committee backed down. 

Next, we worked on the gold­plated health care. We did get modest co-pays [15 percent] from the employees hired prior to 1997. They represent 38 per­cent of the group and used to pay nothing.

The quid pro quo was an increase in the longevity bonus. Employees with 10 to 14 years of seniority receive a 12.5 per­cent increase in their longevity payment and employees with 15+ years receive a 25 percent increase. 

Employees not yet receiving longevity are still on “step” increases. I refused to vote for any seniority-based payment system, but raises were approved ranging from 3.7 per­cent to 24.3 percent, with an average of 9.5 percent. 

None of these raises are based on job performance. Why do we allow public employees to not be held accountable yet receive raises that average two to three times higher than those in the private market? 

The NEA would have you believe that the school commit­tee is holding the line and repre­senting you well — they just don’t want you to watch them do it. I would argue that if the pub­lic was involved before the con­tract was signed behind closed doors we might not be in this mess. 

Recently, Governor Carcieri proposed that the public be allowed to review public employ­ee contracts before they are rati­fied. This is a wonderful first step. One day, the entire negoti­ations process will be once again public. 

Or maybe the NEA is right — would you rather not know this information? 

William Felkner Ashaway William Felkner is a Hopkinton representative on the Chariho Regional School Committee.



  1. I noticed for the first time, the whatever, State of the ? show on cable some guy from the NEA(It must have been the National Ectasy Agency) was trying to ‘spin his magic’ about education. Kids may be stupid and but its not our fact/NEA. It was woeful.

    Lets hope the fellow above can explain what the school committee may be on.

    Comment by Mark — March 29, 2008 @ 3:33 pm | Reply

  2. Mark, That was Pat Crowley. He is also an assistant executive director (they have several of them – all around $85k) for the NEA. He is also a regular contributor to the RI Future blog. I think people on ecstasy tend to tell the truth (it was developed first as a diet drug and then used in therapy sessions due to its ability to lower inhibitions) – something Pat has problems with. Perhaps the National Exaggeration Association would be more accurate.

    He is the same guy that was caught on camera flipping the bird to the Tiverton school committee during negotiations (see photo here A perfect example of what has happened to the teachers union – its all about the money, nothing about the kids.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — March 31, 2008 @ 8:46 pm | Reply

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