Contract standoff gets bitter

Full story: Lowell Sun 187
The teachers' union request for a "jaw-dropping" 15 percent raise over three years -- which would increase the average teacher salary in Chelmsford to $74,652 -- has placed contract negotiations at a standstill, according to school officials. Full Story
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Bedford, MA

#187 Nov 13, 2010
everyonesfacts wrote:
"My Uncle retired after 30 years as a teacher in Quincy, MA.
He never missed an opportunity to tell us...
- I love my job working with kids"
Good for him.
"- I have never been late for dinner"
Then I guess he did not attend or volunteer to chaperone. Certainly didn't go on to any trips in other countries!
"- I have never been forced to work a weekend"
Forced no. But did he work most weekends? The average teacher works on Sunday more than the average worker. See previous post for the study.
"- I have never lost sleep over potentially losing my job"
I guess he didn't live through prop 2 and a half. Or was never in danger of being RIFd
"- I have been thanked very generously around the holidays and end of school year"
Good. And it is certain that elementary school teachers do get thanked, or used to, with small gifts at those times.
"- I pack my house up each June and headed to the Cape each summer."
Wow! Most teachers can do that (if they want to work down there). I assume your uncle did not own a house on the Cape in his first, second, or tenth year of teaching. Or if he did, it wasn't through buying a second mortgage on a single teaching salary. Was it? Or did he go down there to work? Unclear.
"Finally, he retired very comfortably which he was grateful for too."
Good for him.
"I assure you he never complained about how hard his job was because he saw how hard others had to work."
And isn't this the problem on this board - that some are assuming that teaching is not hard work. Having worked in private industry for 15 years before breaking into teaching I know how hard I worked there - usually 5 or 6 10 hour days a week with 2 weeks off for vacation a year. I took three sick days and went home early once.
That said, I work harder now. Would all teachers say this? Certainly not.
But the idea is we all work hard. I have not seen so far any teachers complaining about how little non-union private sector workers are working, or asking that they all be fired, or that they should have higher co-pays, etc. Speaking for myself, my wish for private sector workers is the same as when I worked in it - better pay, better benefits and better work conditions - the same things teachers want!
You're missing the point...he lived a great life and knew he had a really good job. He didn't complain and was disappointed with many of the teachers he worked with because he felt they didn't really "get it". It's a good job with good benefits.

Your credibility suffers when you say things like "we all work hard". In every profession some do and some don't and teaching is no different. With that said, you have decided to be treated and judged as a group/union and taxpayers are done with the union. Here's the good news, if you don't like it or feel that you are being treated fairly, you can resign.

Since: Dec 07

Leominster, MA

#188 Nov 13, 2010
provides opportunities wrote:
I agree. I don't like the unions, the union heads. Most teachers are as committed, and perhaps more, than any of us to our jobs.

Thank you "provides opportunities" for helping our children become knowledgeable citizens.

Boston, MA

#189 Nov 13, 2010
everyonesfacts wrote:
As to the article, shame on Kathy Duffet for not keeping her word and the law.
It will be hard to tell if she was telling the truth. But if she was, she was at the same time breaking her word (lying) about not speaking to the public until it was agreed upon or the contract had come to an agreement.
Second, that Chelmsford is in Eastern MA in a well to do town and is paying teachers on average $3000 less than average makes Chelmsford out to be cheap. This isn't $3000 less than average in Eastern MA but for the whole state! Wow!
That's crap. If the Teachers union didn't want the school committee discussing the budget negotiations then they should have got them done in a reasonable time instead of letting them drag on and affecting our kids. Duffett just answered a direct question - or are you saying that she should have refused to tell parents what's going on? As far as being underpaid goes, well if you could provide some links that would be dandy. Or are we not supposed to ask about that either?
Chelmsford Citizen

Peabody, MA

#190 Nov 13, 2010
Happytown wrote:
<quoted text> I am no fan of Kathy D.- especially because she was responsible for that disaster called yoeman - who took us taxpayers for over $550,000++ for 3&1/2 pathetic years - but...she is just stating the truth. WE CANNOT AFFORD TO GIVE ANY RAISES. This applies to the cops, firefighters, other Town workers etc..For some weird reason the teacher union thinks this doesn't mean them? Aren't they special!Honestly unemployment sucks - be happy you have a job and if you can't live with 0%(like everyone else in Town)leave & give somone else a chance to work. You wii be replaced instantly & no one will miss you, really.
The truth here is that Kathy D was out of line and made a poor practiced poor judgment for a political stance. I feel, and it's in my own opinion, that Mrs. Duffet chose to take this stance because her term expires on April of 2011. Like most lack luster politicians, dirty lies and deception is the foremost concern in an attempt to look good, and I feel that Mrs. Duffet did just that Now, as a person, I am sure she is a great person, but as a school comm member, she is misguided with her role. Integrity is defined by Webster as firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.

I call into question Mrs. Duffet's integrity as she broke the agreement that no parties are to talk about negotiations until an agreed upon time or a decision has been made. Not only did she speak, she lied and provided false information in order to make herself look good. The lack of integrity displayed by Mrs. Duffet devalues her ability to be a leader in our community regardless if you agree with the Teacher's Union or not. At this point, I don't feel the citizen of Chelmsford can make a fair and honest opinion until they are presented with the truth.

What Chelmsford needs is a School Comm that has leaders with integrity. Ones who adhere to rules and agreed upon norms without prejudice or reasons for personal or political gain. Mrs. Duffet did not adhere to the definition of integrity, she did did not display a firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values. I encourage our community members to seek leaders who have morality and integrity. Likewise, I encourage the Teachers Union to take a careful look at what they are asking for just as much as I encourage the School Comm to take a careful look at what sort leaders they want representing them.

I fully believe that Mrs. Duffet is not that person who uses her political power for the better of the Chelmsford Community and I encourage Chelmsford's citizens to refrain from developing judgment until they are presented with the facts and not the opinions and false statements from one person. Upon judgment day, when a contract is finally settled, I hope it is the teachers who have showed the appropriate character and integrity and that they can again regain the support of the community.

I fully believe that the majority of teachers in our town do have the best interest of the children at heart. I hope that the citizens can then look forward to ensure that elected officials in our schools are the ones who fully encompass the meaning of integrity and rely on the truth for the benefit of the Town's people, especially the children.

Dracut, MA

#191 Nov 13, 2010
everyonesfacts wrote: paying teachers on average $3000 less than average makes Chelmsford out to be cheap. This isn't $3000 less than average in Eastern MA but for the whole state! Wow!
That means that all the greedy teachers can move elsewhere, to cities where they are more appreciated

sounds like a win-win to me....

Chelmsford, MA

#192 Nov 13, 2010
Tired of mudslinging wrote:
<quoted text>
I think that you and many other's on this board are missing the main point - HOW IS THE TOWN IF CHELMSFORD GOING TO PAY FOR RAISES???
The argument shouldn't be about how important a teacher is and how hard they work. Most of us here appreciate teacher's and what they do for our kids. But if you want a raise, the town will have to pay for it.
Now I have been consistently asking this question of the teacher's posting on this board and no one seems to want to answer - maybe you will take the plunge.
With a projected $2 million deficit next year in Chelmsford with no raises and every 1% raise adding an additional $300,000 to the budget, a 3.9%(if you say it is a 4 year contract) would make our deficit -$3.2 million!!
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK WE SHOULD CUT OUT OF OUR BUDGET IN ORDER TO BALANCE THAT BUDGET AND GIVE RAISES. Because bottom line, there is no fat in the budget. Our town has been cutting for years now and there isn't much left to cut before teaching positions will have to be cut. The parents have already stepped up to the plate and are paying fees, they can't afford anymore.
So $3.2 million means about 34 teaching positions. Is that OK with you in order to get your raise? I really hope you will be able to provide an answer.
Watch the school committee meeting. They were talking about buying new technology for the schools, hiring data analyzers, purchasing something to tutor kids for SAT test (that they they didn't think the kids would even use unless they made a class for it), paying for an arrangement with Kronos to install time cards in the schools ) It sounds like they can come up with all sorts of money for everything else.
Tired of mudslinging

Chelmsford, MA

#193 Nov 13, 2010
fred wrote:
<quoted text>
Watch the school committee meeting. They were talking about buying new technology for the schools, hiring data analyzers, purchasing something to tutor kids for SAT test (that they they didn't think the kids would even use unless they made a class for it), paying for an arrangement with Kronos to install time cards in the schools ) It sounds like they can come up with all sorts of money for everything else.
Everything you mention above was part of the CAPITAL plan which is completely separate from the operating budget. The technology mentioned the other night, the time card and meal card system, furniture etc.. would all be part of the town's capital budget. If the money is not spent on capital expenditures and/or maintenance - it CANNOT be spent on operating expenses.

The only item mentioned the other night which I believe could be spent out of the operating budget is the SAT prep software which is part of the Naviance system. I believe the figure was $1 per student. With about 4000 students at the high school that is a $4000 expenditure. That would pay for a raise for one and a half teacher's. How do we pay for the other 398 or so?

Teacher salaries are paid out of the operating budget. A deficit of $2million before raises is expected. Every 1% raise is $300,000. It is really not so easy to find that kind of money in the budget. IF they had it, the contract probably would have been settled a long time ago.

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