WEST – Negotiations that began last winter on a new collective agreement between the school committee and teachers in the city’s public schools have not resulted in a new contract. The Westerly Teachers Association, the union that represents educators, has so far rejected two proposals.
Agreement on several points, including pay and the length of the working day, has proved elusive, school committee chair Diane Chiaradio Bowdy said. She said the district’s current day length is the shortest of any neighboring communities. The two sides were also unable to agree on “professional responsibilities and expectations,” Chiaradio Bowdy said.
The teachers are currently working under a three-year contract that expired on August 31. Colleen Saila, president of the Westerly Teachers Association and district teacher, said she could not answer questions for this article.
“I cannot answer your questions because I am bound by the ground rules agreed upon by both parties to not make any public disclosure or comment,” Saila said.
The school committee prepared to vote on a contract proposal at the end of August and again last week, but in both cases never voted because the union did not ratify the contracts, according to Chiaradio Bowdy.
“Twice in the past few months, the ATA team determined that they would bring the proposals and tentative agreements to the members. Unfortunately, and again, on two occasions, we understand that members of the negotiating team then advised against ratification. “Both proposals were rejected. The school committee did not vote on the contract in any of these situations because the WTA did not ratify,” said Chiaradio Bowdy.
Following the union vote in late August, the WTA called for mediation as a way to help forge a mutually acceptable deal. Retired Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, Frank J. Williams, was accepted by both parties and hired to mediate. Williams was originally suggested by the WTA, Chiaradio Bowdy said.
“We understand that while the WTA leadership, the leadership of the Rhode Island National Education Section and the ombudsperson himself have recommended ratification to members, members again voted against” the deal. proposed, said Chiaradio Bowdy.
The National Education Association is an organization that represents teachers in public schools across the country, as well as other support staff, faculty, and staff at colleges and universities.
Chiaradio Bowdy has said she looks forward to a new deal that is acceptable to both sides.
“We are currently at an impasse but hope that an agreement can be reached in the near future. Until that happens, the last agreement remains in force,” said Chiaradio Bowdy.