School Committee Seeks Back-To-Work Order
WARREN, R.I. (AP) _ The School Committee has asked the Superior Court to order 115 striking teachers back to work after the teachers rejected the panel’s final offer to end an illegal 10-day walkout.
The request for an injunction asks that the teachers be ordered to return to the classrooms they left April 21, idling 1,400 students. Court officials said Friday that it would be considered on Monday.
The motion is similar to one that resulted in 53 striking Pawtucket teachers being jailed for up to three days in September.
Union President Andrew Duperron said the teachers would stick to their ″no contract, no work″ posture, adding that he was prepared to go to jail if necessary.
″If that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes,″ he said. ″I’m ready.″ After teachers rejected the contract proposal, they presented Duperron with a cap bearing the letters ACI, standing for the state prison, the Adult Correctional Institutions.
The local chapter of the National Education Association voted 93-16 Friday against the committee’s proposal for a three-year pact with total raises of 14 1/2 percent.
The teachers’ vote came one day after more than 2,300 residents voted 10- to-1 against an arbitrator’s recommendation that the teachers receive a three- year contract with 18 percent raises.
The teachers, without a contract since September, have held firm to the recommendation. But the School Committee said it would be too costly in this small town populated largely by blue-collar workers and retirees.
Meanwhile, J. Troy Earhart, state commissioner for elementary and secondary education, ordered the School Committee to submit a contingency plan that would enable schools to open Monday. Details of the plan were not immediately available.
The nine-point pact rejected by the teachers included 2 percent raises during the first 40 weeks of the first year, plus another 1 percent the final 12 weeks. In the second year, teachers would receive 6 percent pay hikes followed by 5 1/2 percent the third.
Teachers who now earn $27,314 a year, the current top scale, would be paid $31,274 at the end of the three years under the committee’s proposal. The 18 percent raises they want would bring their salaries to $32,230.