Open letter to the RSU 39 Board of Education from the Eastern Aroostook Education Association

15 years ago

To the editor:
    We are pleased to learn from the RSU 39 Web site posting of 12/22/09, that they do in fact have some goals for teacher negotiations, as our dealings with them for the last six months have placed the matter in doubt. We began our contacts with RSU 39 toward negotiations in July 2009. They required five months to produce a salary scale which proposed no increases for two years. If the fairness they describe on their Web site had been demonstrated at the negotiation table, we would not be starting the expensive process of mediation on Jan. 5, 2010.     We have some suggestions to further their promises of fairness to the stakeholders of the educational system in this district.
    Fairness to the children. Speak about the children at your meetings. Take every action at your level with the interests of the children foremost in your thoughts. The biggest waste of a professional teacher’s time is to force them to advocate for their fair treatment. Keeping them at the negotiations table through the whole school year is a waste of professionals’ time. We should be working with children, planning for children, and training to help children. That is why we do what we do.
    Fairness to taxpayers. Taxpayers send their children to us and expect us to take good care of them. Taxpayers would also perhaps not choose some of the expenditures that you have chosen in the face of the budget difficulties. Print expenditure reports on your Web site. Show the trip to Europe taken by the Caribou board last year. Print your administrative salaries and recent increases on the Web site. Then explain how that demonstrates shared sacrifice.
    Fairness to professional teachers. You will have the most difficulty with this. Your recent history has not been good in this area. You clearly would rather spend money for legal fees than for fair treatment of professional teachers and for professional morale. Our salaries have not kept up with inflation, being some 12 percent down over the last decade.
    These choices have clearly been yours. The closing of schools and laying off staff is also clearly up to you. We will continue to work for fair wages, hours and working conditions for all our members. We hope to soon be able to see actions in keeping with their words.

Robert A. Hancock
EAEA chief negotiator