Avedisian joins in urging governor to veto 'evergreen contract' bill

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Mayor Scott Avedisian has joined the chorus of mayors and town administrations calling to Governor Gina Raimondo to veto what has been labeled the “evergreen contract” legislation approved by the House and the Senate.

Under the legislation that was introduced in the House by Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson of Warwick and Warwick Senator and Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey in the Senate, terms of expired municipal contracts would remain in place until a new agreement is reached.

Prior to the House vote on the bill, the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns and more than a dozen mayors and town administrators gathered at Warwick City Hall to voice opposition to the measure.

In a July 3 letter to Raimondo, Avedisian expanded on statements made at the Warwick press conference.

“The expiration date of collective bargaining agreements is an important component of contract negotiations. It motivates the parties to come together and resolve their issues prior to the close of the contract. If for some reason, the parties do not complete negotiations prior to the contract expiration; they should be able to extend contracts temporarily if both parties agree. In the vast majority of cases in Rhode Island, the parties do agree to continue their contract terms until they can complete negotiations. For that reason alone, this legislation is unnecessary,” he writes.

While similar legislation has been introduced in prior sessions, it has never reached the governor’s desk, according to legislators. This year, however, it appears to be motivated by the prolonged Warwick Teacher and School Committee contract dispute and the committee’s challenge of adhering to terms of the former contract. With the consolidation of secondary schools, the committee laid off more than the 20 teachers allowable under the expired contract. It also did away with a weighting system designed to reduce class size based on the number of special education students in the class.

The union based its argument that terms of the prior contract applied on a State Labor Relations Board ruling. The School Committee challenged that finding in Superior Court, winning the right to lay off the teachers because of declining enrollment.

Avedisian offered no opinion on how the governor will react to the pleas of mayors and municipal administrators or, for that matter, whether the General Assembly would override a veto should she take that course.

At this point, he doubts the bill has been transmitted to the governor.

Addressing the issue of prolonged contract disputes, Avedisian said in his letter, “I also would favor a review of negotiations to include penalties for both sides if contract negotiation and/or ratification are not done in a timely manner. Too often, the negotiation, mediation, and arbitration processes take too long and leave communities in a dire financial position and declining morale.”

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richardcorrente

If the expiration date "motivates the parties to come together and resolve their issues" as Mayor Avedisian claims, then why have we had no teachers contract for TWO YEARS!? I suggest that Camille Vella-Wilkinsons legislation does not favor either side, and just brings an element of "stability" to the negotiations which benefits BOTH sides. At present, the School Committee adheres to the previous contract when it benefits the School Committee to do so and ignores it when that benefits them. They have the proverbial "cake and eat it too" scenario. Giving 100% control to one side OR THE OTHER, is unfair to everyone concerned, especially the students.

Vella-Wilkinsons legislation is "fair-to-all" legislation.

WAY-TO-GO-CAMILLE-VELLA-WILKINSON!!

Happy Summer Camille and husband Ken

Happy Summer everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Friday, July 14 | Report this
CrickeeRaven

Corrections to the prior comment from the fake "mayor" for readers who appreciate context and accuracy:

-- "[W]hy have we had no teachers contract for TWO YEARS!?" - The teachers union could have negotiated a contract with the prior school administration but chose not to; the new administration made an offer that then resulted in arbitration and mediation; the school committee recently approved a contract that the union then rejected.

-- "I suggest that Camille Vella-Wilkinsons legislation does not favor either side, and just brings an element of "stability" to the negotiations which benefits BOTH sides." - Forcing a community to honor an expired contract locks in prior terms, which may pose financial hardship to the community; such a situation clearly benefits the union over the community.

-- "At present, the School Committee adheres to the previous contract when it benefits the School Committee to do so and ignores it when that benefits them." - The school committee has prevailed in court over its legal ability to exceed the limit on teacher layoffs set by the prior contract, which the union sought to maintain through a grievance it initiated with the National Labor Relations Board. In this case, it was the union seeking to keep terms that benefited it in place.

The fake "mayor" will no doubt continue embarrassing himself with his next comments.

Friday, July 14 | Report this