Rutland Town teachers upset about the school board's delay on a new contract, took their message to the street this week.
Horns honked in support of teachers as they stood outside Rutland Town School. Teachers hope their informational pickets this week will get the school board's attention and bring them back to the bargaining table. "Right now they have imposed their position and haven't negotiated a contract with us," said Jodi Manning, a teacher at the school.
The school board has imposed a one year contract on the teachers, with a zero percent salary increase. The teachers said they are willing to accept this deal--but they want more than a single-year promise. "We are willing to help the board meet their needs, through a multi-year deal," Manning said.
For the first time in a long time the teachers here worked the entire year, without a contract, and still lack one for the upcoming year. They say the school board has imposed working conditions on them, instead of negotiating with them. "It's incredibly frustrating and stressful. And its not at all what we want to be spending our time on," Manning said.
The board's attorney issued the following statement: The Rutland Town teachers are, and for a long time have been, the highest paid teachers in the county. After agreeing to language changes the teachers requested, and given the economy, the Board felt it was their responsibility to look out for the taxpayers. Even with no new money, the Rutland Town teachers remain the highest paid teachers in the county.
Rutland City Schools faced a similar contract conflict and were able to reach a deal. Union representatives are hopeful Rutland Town can come to a similar conclusion.
"The board did the hard work, and met with the teachers and hammered out an agreement that was fair for the teachers, fair for the city and good for kids. So it can be done," said Darren Allen with the Vermont Northern Education Association.
Rutland Town Teachers will continue to picket through the week. A negotiating session has been set for June 8th between the School Board and the Teachers to discuss their contracts.