Sometimes officials and business owners have to respond based not only on a specific event, but also on the long-term precedents and incentives that the event creates. That is why First Student should fire its bus drivers or Providence should cancel the company’s contract. This is not tolerable:
Union school bus drivers in Providence are expected to continue their strike Monday, the third school day of a labor dispute that has caused an upheaval for thousands of city students, according to school officials. …
School attendance on Thursday was 84 percent, the district said. On Friday, it was 79 percent. School officials said Friday that there were “minimal problems” with arrivals that day.
If you won’t do your job — and especially if you do lasting harm to children by not doing your job — you ought to lose it. This isn’t complicated.
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The excuse for the strike only makes matters worse:
Teamsters Local 251, which represents the bus drivers, threatened to strike if First Student doesn’t allow the drivers to begin earning a pension rather than a 401(k). The union overwhelmingly voted down an offer from the company last week before approving a separate contract of their own.
First Student says it has offered pay raises and increases to its 401(k) contributions, but the company is unwilling to begin making payments the Teamsters’ existing regional pension system.
Defined benefit pension plans don’t work. They exist mainly in government, at this point, because only government can hide the costs and kick the can continually down the road to make it somebody else’s snowballing problem.
First Student offers a 401(k). Many private-sector workers don’t even get that. If that isn’t good enough for some employees, they should work somewhere else. And if the company can’t offer benefits that will attract competent employees, then it shouldn’t be given the contract for a service on which a city’s families rely.
Of the following two issues related to Rhode Island’s public schools, which one is a greater concern?