The head of the Baltimore Teachers Union called the city school system's contract proposal for teachers and aides "insulting, degrading and downright disrespectful" last night as about 40 union members rallied outside a school board meeting and accused the board of failing to negotiate in good faith.Since we don't know the details of the proposal, it is impossible to comment on whether it is fair or unfair, or whether it is simply a negoitation position. What is clear though is the the School Board is now on the defensive on the matter since it won't comment on negotiations.
Union officials say the board wants to extend teachers' work days and increase their health care premiums while giving them almost no pay increase and cutting back on their sick days. In addition, teachers would be required to perform lavatory duty, and administrators would be allowed to dictate the format of teachers' lesson plans.
The unions have no self-imposed limitations on their ability to speak about negotiations and it is time that school boards call them on it. The school board should present their side of the story as well. The unions are also not afraid to use hyperbole in making their case:
"These negotiations have been an insult to us," said Marietta English, co-president of the union. "What they're asking is ridiculous."Apparently, part of the problem is the schools that are not run by the school board, but schools run by Towson University and Edison schools, both of which have undertaken steps or have working conditions different than those at board run schools.
At the rally, she led chants of "enough is enough." She compared the system's treatment of teachers to the way slaves were treated, saying, "What happened on the plantation when the slaves had enough?"