Contract standoff gets bitter

Contract standoff gets bitter

There are 187 comments on the Lowell Sun story from Nov 11, 2010, titled Contract standoff gets bitter. In it, Lowell Sun reports that:

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.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Lowell Sun.

Teach

North Chelmsford, MA

#166 Nov 12, 2010
Wondering wrote:
<quoted text>
True, but you get the money from the taxpayers. When you get a more expensive benefit or a payraise it's a tax cut for those who gave you the money to pay your taxes with.
Example. If the town had an override vote that would increase taxes by $500 per household but would increase teacher salaries by $2,000 each year, how would you vote?
Boy, Wondering, you never give up. You are responding to someone who works VERY HARD and earns a SALARY for that hard work. That person pays his or her fair share of taxes to fund that increase. What is your complaint now???????
Wayland Wannabees

Lowell, MA

#167 Nov 12, 2010
Chelmsfordmom wrote:
Agreed, No need for names in this blog – However, ask any 8th grade student at this school why they are not going on their annual class trip to Canada, and they will quote the Teachers Union motto “Fair work, Fair contract”– Ask a CHS student why the website they normally get homework assignments from is no longer available b/c teachers are refusing to use it, and they will also quote the Teachers Union,“Fair work, Fair contract”. This is not a “Horror Story”, simply a situation that is unprofessional and unacceptable in the classroom
That's a bummer. Must be a Parker student, too bad. The McCarthy 8th graders are still doing their annual Quebec trip in the spring. Hopefully you weren't one of the ones redistricted a couple of years ago and got stuck going over to Parker.
Tired of mudslinging

North Chelmsford, MA

#168 Nov 12, 2010
Anti School Committee wrote:
Kathy Duffett is a liar-anyone who truly knows her, knows that. It is too bad that the Lowell Sun isn't interested enough to get the full story. It is also a shame that Kathy Duffett and the School Committee feel the need to break the rules of negotiations in this manner. Even if the teachers asked for 15% over 4 years that is only 3.75% a year. That seems fair to mean when they have contiued to rank ours students so high on MCAS!
3.75% a year =$1,125,000 added to the budget every year including the year that we are in (means cutting mid-year)

With a $2 million deficit already projected for next year the raise would make that deficit $3.125,000. What would you propose we cut?

And what is your evidence that Ms. Duffett is lying? You shouldn't make accusations like that without facts to back it up.
Hubbardston Independent

United States

#169 Nov 12, 2010
provides opportunities wrote:
Ok. I am a teacher in Chelmsford.
JUST STOP BASHING TEACHERS ALREADY!!!!
etc, etc.

Firstly, you pay union dues which makes you part of the union. Then your union extorts attempts to extort well-meaning citizens running towns with high powered unions. Then the unions bribe the predominantly Democrat politicians. MTA is the largest lobbiest. Towns are running in the red and can barely pay to plow roads. By next year, most towns will not be able to pay for your increases in health benefits. And here you come looking for 15% in the worst recession in 80 years? You deserve everything and more that you are getting. We are done with you and YOUR union.
MassMom

Lowell, MA

#170 Nov 12, 2010
This situation is distressing for all concerned, so it should be no surprise there are such passionate opinions. First, the teachers in Chelmsford deserve respect and support. But what is happening now is outrageous. The idea is outrageous. This increase puts teacher income on par with incomes of teachers in regions with much higher costs of living inthe suburbs of cities like CA, NY, and Chicago. Further, Ms. Chamberlain's assertion that their negotiating is not using the children as pawns is nonsense - it is, and we parents can see it. The reality is simple. Like any other occupation, the competitve landscape is more challenging in this economy. The answer to this problem is not to demand more money because graduation rates are at 100%(that's your job, not justification for a merit award and besides, the kids and parents we just as responsible for that statisitic). Ms. Chamberlain and other teachers had better find a way to negotiate reasonable incentives in their contract - a 15% increase is out of the question. If not, Chelmsford's School Board and Superintendent should start taking applications for younger, more motivated teachers. Stop depriving our kids!
Happytown

Fitchburg, MA

#171 Nov 12, 2010
Anti School Committee wrote:
Kathy Duffett is a liar-anyone who truly knows her, knows that. It is too bad that the Lowell Sun isn't interested enough to get the full story. It is also a shame that Kathy Duffett and the School Committee feel the need to break the rules of negotiations in this manner. Even if the teachers asked for 15% over 4 years that is only 3.75% a year. That seems fair to mean when they have contiued to rank ours students so high on MCAS!
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.
Mom

Tewksbury, MA

#172 Nov 12, 2010
Agreed the proposed increase is outrageous but don't disrespect all teachers. My kids go to school in town and I am extremely grateful for their efforts. Let's stop the name calling!
Hubbardston Independent

United States

#173 Nov 12, 2010
@ Mom. The teachers and union are one. You can't blame one and not the other. They have their meetings in private and the citizens can't fight this nonsense. There is now a thing called the internet where information can be readily shared and quickly. What you are all missing, the 15% is in ADDITION to the step increases. When was the last time you know someone in the private sector to get consistent increases. And compared to the private sector, the numbers of teachers laid off is minute. Stop buying in the Union mantra. Maybe Deval the Glorious One can find another thing to tax to pay for this. The MTA sure did a lot to get him into the Governors Office again.
MassMom

Lowell, MA

#174 Nov 12, 2010
A little source information on Chelmsford. Feel free to debate it, but I like to get a view from all sides - this is NOT the "good side": http://teachersunionexposed.com/state.cfm...
MassMom

Lowell, MA

#175 Nov 12, 2010
As for the last post, only one thing matters to me in this debate based on nationwide studies. It is that pay increases should be paid to "effective" teachers based upon an agreed upon criteria. I'd agree to a 15% for our best teachers, but NOT across the board. Why is reward and compensation required for all? The teacher's union is shaking us down.
UnionHater

Boston, MA

#176 Nov 12, 2010
provides opportunities wrote:
<quoted text>
Let me help YOU out
1. I am already 56 and won't retire for many years; I entered the teaching profession at age 40 after putting time in the "private sector" . I am not the only teacher this applies to.
2. I do not take town health insurance as I am on my spouce's policy. I am not the only teacher this applies to.
3. Notice how much money I am saving you already?
4. I pay taxes to the town of Chelmsford just like everyone else.
5. If I am able to work long enough to retire with a pension, I won't be collecting the social security I paid into during private sector years. Teachers aren't allowed to. And it won't be at 80%.
6. I spend at least 2 hundred dollars a year out of my own pocket to buy classroom supplies and supplies you would think parents sent the kids to school with...like pencils......also tissues, hand sanitizer, paper towels that actually absorb water, colored pencils, index cards, file folders....DVDs,.... I am not the only teacher that does this.
7. I may be expendable but the town would be hard pressed to find equally qualified/certified/experience d candidates that are willing do as much your current Chelmsford Teachers. I have been on search committees for candidates and I have seen the quality and experience of the applicants. The best ones go to Concord, Burlington, etc. where the salaries are higher. Chelmsford is not competing well with the neighboring towns for new hires. They are not.
And I am supposed to impressed how? The teachers union will endevear to extort out of the taxpayers your raise which you will probably get. This will force the town to hold a special election to raise the money to fund your raises. Our taxes will go up and with the fixed incomes many of our senior citizens, they will be forced to choose between food, medicine and loosing their home. Keep up the good work.
Clarity

Methuen, MA

#177 Nov 12, 2010
Hubbardston Independent wrote:
@ Mom. The teachers and union are one. You can't blame one and not the other. They have their meetings in private and the citizens can't fight this nonsense. There is now a thing called the internet where information can be readily shared and quickly. What you are all missing, the 15% is in ADDITION to the step increases. When was the last time you know someone in the private sector to get consistent increases. And compared to the private sector, the numbers of teachers laid off is minute. Stop buying in the Union mantra. Maybe Deval the Glorious One can find another thing to tax to pay for this. The MTA sure did a lot to get him into the Governors Office again.
Chelmsford Federation of Teachers is AFT, not MTA! And no, it isn't the same thing.
Nonsense

Dracut, MA

#178 Nov 12, 2010
provides opportunities wrote:
Ok. I am a teacher in Chelmsford.
1. Teachers do NOT even know what the union is bargaining for...it is private....so do NOT blame us or call us greedy.Apparently this 15% raise was a lie.
2. Your children are receiving a top notch education because of Chelmsford teachers. Even the School committee said so. Watch a meeting; they brag about it all the time. At times they even thank us.
3. I am so insulted that people think that the kids are being used as pawns and that their education is suffering because of theses negotiations. These negotiations do not enter into our minds; we are focused on doing our jobs and doing them well.This is why we have a negotiating team; to worry about this for us. We continue to volunteer, run clubs without stipends, stay here until 7 pm several nights a week to get copying done, grade papers all weekend....stay for extra help at a child's request. Answer emails any time and call parents on Saturdays. Do not say their education is suffering because the parents can't get the kid's homework on-line. This fusion tool is new. Most teachers weren't even using it any way. Homework is written on the board, given out as a syllabus or pacing guide, verbally announced and guess what! parents can still email us and ask.
4. Why isn't anyone blaming the school committee for not doing their job in providing the town with top notch teachers at pay at least equal to the average salary of the state of Massachusetts? This is what I heard: The teachers union at first (two years ago) asked for 0% raise! 0%! But wanted wording in the contract changed. They wanted to guarantee teachers would get Dec. 24th off. They wanted to be able to give their sick days away to colleagues who were sick with extended illnesses; who had children in dire health..or dying spouses.(Still sounds greedy?) They wanted more time for professional development; they wanted to be compensated fairly for summer work (Shock! Teachers actually work in the summer.....sometimes it is voluntary, sometimes it is asked of us...and we are paid by a certain amount of hours. Usually the actual work takes 3x longer than what we are paid.
4. Teachers do this because we love our jobs, we love the kids, and find rewards in what we do beyond out salaries. And guess what? Most of us could get more in the private sector....but we choose to be here because it is a rewarding profession where we continue to learn everyday from our colleagues and students.
JUST STOP BASHING TEACHERS ALREADY!!!!
I challenge any of you loud mouths to shadow a teacher for week or even a day and see how easy this job is. I have worked in the "private sector" and this job is more exhausting and demanding than any other I have had.
Just stop. Teachers deserve your respect. You should be thanking them for what they do for your children and the children in your community. They are great kids and accomplish so much in our schools. We are here for them and would hope that the community would be a little supportive of us. You all should be ashamed.
Oh please. No way is being a teacher that hard. Try working at a prison or a hospital. Maybe then people would have some compassion. Also, that is lucky for you that you had a of lot easy jobs in the private sector and now have another one in the public sector. Plenty of people work harder and longer and many for less money in the private sector. But that doesn't matter. Teachers work in the public sector. The public therefore, will make judgements when there money is being wasted. Loudmouths? Actually there called taxpayers. Are they still teaching social studies in the Chelmsford schools?
everyonesfacts

Salem, MA

#179 Nov 12, 2010
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!
everyonesfacts

Salem, MA

#181 Nov 12, 2010
"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!
Tired of mudslinging

North Chelmsford, MA

#182 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!
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.
Wondering

Tyngsboro, MA

#183 Nov 13, 2010
Teach wrote:
<quoted text>
Boy, Wondering, you never give up. You are responding to someone who works VERY HARD and earns a SALARY for that hard work. That person pays his or her fair share of taxes to fund that increase. What is your complaint now???????
Lots of people work very hard for their money. You didn't answer my question. If the town had an override vote that would increase taxes by $500 per household but would increase teacher salaries by $2,000 each year, how would you vote?
citizen

Lowell, MA

#184 Nov 13, 2010
[QUOTE who="everyonesfacts
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!
[/QUOTE]

The public union workers don't pay our salaries so they have no right to complain about how much we are working and why would they ever complain about our co-pays, most of our co-pays are a lot higher than theirs.
We pay their salaries, we have a right to complain, when they get raises, we pay it.
People are finally starting to see what these unions have done to the towns they work for, it took long enough, but we are seeing how they operate and how much they are actually cost each taxpayer.

I think the time has come to push these unions out. The benefits given to public sector workers are too much. I would love to see them cut for all new hires. No sick day buy back, put into SS instead of pensions, no lifetime health insurance. I wouldn't mind a higher starting salary, I think if we cut those benefits, we could look at the pay and adjust accordingly.
No common sense

Hudsonville, MI

#185 Nov 13, 2010
Anti School Committee wrote:
Kathy Duffett is a liar-anyone who truly knows her, knows that. It is too bad that the Lowell Sun isn't interested enough to get the full story. It is also a shame that Kathy Duffett and the School Committee feel the need to break the rules of negotiations in this manner. Even if the teachers asked for 15% over 4 years that is only 3.75% a year. That seems fair to mean when they have contiued to rank ours students so high on MCAS!
And the tunnel vision continues. You don't get it. I don't think you ever will. I believe the only way you will get it is if you get fired and offered a position with less hours, less pay, and less benefits, and if the school committee really steps up to the plate, a non-union position. Then, the town could switch all teachers automatically to the HMO Options Plan and save the town 1 million dollars right away.
It's not that you do not deserve a raise. So do other unions in town. The police deserve a raise. So does the fire department and the highway department. Everyone has an important job to do. THERE IS NO MONEY! That is the issue. Are other departments in this town less important than you? Why do you feel that you should get a raise when others in town are not getting them?
Question

Tyngsboro, MA

#186 Nov 13, 2010
Taxpayers have every right to question where their taxes go, and it is understandable given the fact that times are tough.

Outside of teacher unions, there are still quite a few private sector unions, that with how they work over their companies, is passed on to you when you buy certain products or stay at certain hotels, or even fly a certain airline.

With all the taxes we pay in Masschusetts, including income, property, federal, excise, and sales, let's look at what all of these taxes go to. Massachusetts is unique, especially with their stance on illegal immigrants and health care. We have housing for illegal immigrants (apologize now for spelling - i.e. Aunt Ztuni). MassHealth floats the bill for quite a few illegal immigrants. Section 8 has its highest rate of fraud in years. Welfare, WIC, etc. comes from somewhere, and there are many people who need it, but at the same time so many deposit "taxpayer" money without lifting a finger to work. You may complain about that type of waste too, as do I. But why are people fully lobbying to cut teachers pay (a raise right now is ludicrous)? Take a 0% for your year you already worked and this year, then sit down again--maybe rewrite some duties or something to compromise on 0%. But for those complaining, have the respect for people who have earned an education (even graduate) and who work. Chelmsford can balance its budget with no problem, especially if they examine the business side of things. Try assessing business for what they are worth, and then money comes in. Business will not move out like everyone thinks they will. That is more of a scare tactic than the whole "for the children" line you all post on here. People did not move to Chelmsford for its tax rate. It was not for Skips Ice Cream or the old Howard Johnson Motel. It intersects two major highways for a commuters dream (to be replaced with a nightmare of NH commuters) and has had great schools since the 70's (even before).

Yes, teachers are paid with these taxes, including their pension. Teachers pay 13% currently, only because those before them paid a measly 3% only to collect from a pot that is and will be empty until approximately 2025, at which point the "boomer" teachers who contributed little financially will pass on and the pot should theoretically fill up again.

You have solutions other than complaining? Run for the empty seat in any election, sub at a school if you are unemployed, take certification tests for any public job, apply to some state jobs (check the site--there are many) and quit blaming your issues on everyone else. Thank God I work in the private sector and control my hours and income--and I am grateful to how lucky I am in this economy.

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