When teachers retire early, they can continue to receive health insurance under the School Department’s plan until they reach the age of 65. Then they go onto Medicare’s Plan 65. That is provided for under the labor contract.
These early retirees had been receiving dental insurance and life insurance until age 65 as well. However, the School Committee determined those benefits were a “past practice” not included in the labor contract, and ended them as of Nov. 16 last year. Now, however, the five teachers who announced their upcoming retirement well before November will receive the dental insurance and life insurance until they reach age 65 as well.
One could argue that the “compromise” was that the school committee is not barred from changing this absurdly generous benefit going forward, but then, the unions aren’t barred from renewing their inappropriate tactics. They haven’t even been chastised for using them already. The union has simply said that it won’t do something it never should have threatened to do in the first place.
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This episode again emphasizes the imbalance in our government, especially in our schools. The labor unions are essentially in place for eternity, once certified, so when they aren’t able to win the political contest over the school committee, securing friendly “opposition” in negotiations, they are free to simply make the job difficult until new people are in place. The incentives are for the union constantly to push the envelope and for the school committee to be maximally accommodating.
So, over time, school committees across the state have allowed a system to develop that fails students and robs taxpayers.
Of the following two issues related to Rhode Island’s public schools, which one is a greater concern?