Don Roach: Does Anyone Care About Cranston School Secretaries?

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

 

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If the contract that the Cranston School Secretaries agreed to is any indication, then no, nobody cares about Cranston School Secretaries who salaries range between 34 and 39 thousand dollars annually.

I say no one cares because the secretaries will be taking on about $221,000 in cuts including working five days without pay, losing five paid holidays, amongst other things. I’ve written ad nauseum about how unions need to also bear some of the burden that the rest of us working folks have had to endure during this continuing economic downturn. Several years ago the Cranston Police department agreed to salary freezes. In Providence, David Cicilline and the Providence Fire Department were at a political impasse over concessions (or politics whichever you prefer).

My point is, unions definitely need to and we’ve had examples where they have made concessions due to the economic times. But secretary salaries are probably amongst the lowest of unionized workers and I’m left asking myself if there’s something wrong here. Secretaries Union President, Lori Ryan, asked the City Council to approve the contract in order to avoid restarting negotiations which could have resulted in even deeper cuts.

Perhaps you’re reading this and feel nothing for the secretaries. Perhaps you’ve gone through your own hell in the last few years and are thinking, “at least they have a job.” I totally understand that feeling.

But, what you also must remember is that the school administrators in Cranston just received a pay raise. So, the folks at the highest end of the pay scale received a raise and those at the lowest end are taking on significant cuts. Something seems – I hate to say it – unfair in this equation.

Is there an overall union strategy?

But more than unfairness, there doesn’t seem to be a consistent strategy when it comes to union negotiations for police, fire, teachers, secretaries, etc. In other words, each group appears to negotiate in a vacuum. Are we to assume that because the secretaries took a cut the teachers will also? No. I believe the Cranston Police contract has negotiated salary increases in the coming years. At first glance, that’s a head scratcher. But did you know that their last contract froze salaries.

It’s all such a hodgepodge of cuts here benefits there. There doesn’t appear to be a unified strategy. Now, you can’t blame the individual unions for not coming together (although the whole concept of a union is collective thinking) because union bosses are really negotiating the best deals for their constituents.

But you do have to ask yourself why school committees, city/town councils, and mayors/administrators aren’t developing city-wide strategies to tackle the various union contracts they are involved in approving. Well, that appears to be part of the problem too – I’m not sure in all cities and towns the same parties approve all contracts that are paid for by those same cities and towns. If my memory is correct, the Cranston City Council only recently gained approval authority over contracts negotiated by the School Committee.

Because of such a disjointed process, it’s hard for me to see that there could be any process that is ‘fair’ or equitable to any of the unions. Should the Cranston police officers suffer because the school administrators got a pay raise and the secretaries took cuts? Should the Cranston secretaries not have to take cuts now?

Tough questions to answer if we’re honest with each other. But I don’t think we can answer them without an overall union strategy in all cities and towns. In cities and towns that like to do things independently, is this at all possible?

I just think that we’ll read about this union getting that and that union taking these cuts again and again unless we somehow develop a more holistic view of contract negotiations.

Am I being naïve? Is there something I’m missing? What do you think of the abstract solution I’m offering?

Don Roach can be reached at [email protected] . He can also be reached on Twitter @donroach34.

 

Related Slideshow: Rhode Island’s Highest Paid Mayors and Managers

The Rhode Island Department of Revenue's Office of Local Government Assistance, for the past 23 years, has conducted an "annual salary survey" of municipal positions in the state.  

Below are the salaries reported for chief executives -- Mayors or Town Managers ranked by municipalities (with the position) in 2012, from lowest to highest.   According to the survey, the amount "does not include fringe benefit data."  

Positions appointed are indicated with an (A); positions elected are marked with an (E).  

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#33 Central Falls

Chief Executive Pay: $26,000 (E)

Finance Director: $87,125
 
Planning Director: $66,625
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#32 Richmond

Chief Executive Pay: $51,500 (A)

Finance Director: $56,706
 
Planning Director: $50,218
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#31 West Greenwich

Chief Executive Pay: $60,866 (A)

Finance Director: N/A
 
Planning Director: $52,412
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#30 Cumberland

Chief Executive Pay: $67,799 (E)

Finance Director: (Vacant -- PT)
 
Planning Director: $70,250
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#29 Warren

Chief Executive Pay: $70,000 (A)

Finance Director: $62,424
 
Planning Director: $52,020
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#28 North Smithfield

Chief Executive Pay: $71,289 (E)

Finance Director: $71,235
 
Planning Director: $58,394
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#27 North Providence

Chief Executive Pay: $75,000 (E)

Finance Director: $52,000
 
Planning Director: $62,098
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#26 Johnston

Chief Executive Pay: $75,000 (E)

Finance Director: $95,000
 
Planning Director: $69,746
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#25 Lincoln

Chief Executive Pay: $78,677 (E)

Finance Director: $80,610
 
Planning Director: $67,709
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#24 Woonsocket

Chief Executive Pay: $80,000 (E)

Finance Director: $90,000
 
Planning Director: $82,750
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#23 Cranston

Chief Executive Pay: $80,765 (E)

Finance Director: $96,425
 
Planning Director: $75,247
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#22 Bristol

Chief Executive Pay: $81,162 (E)

Finance Director: N/A
 
Planning Director: $78,438
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#21 Tiverton

Chief Executive Pay: $83,900 (A)

Finance Director: N/A
 
Planning Director: Vacant
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#20 Pawtucket

Chief Executive Pay: $84,253 (E)

Finance Director: $82,000
 
Planning Director: $72,269
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#19 Hopkinton

Chief Executive Pay: $89,000 (A)

Finance Director: $73,043
 
Planning Director: $51,816
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#18 Charlestown

Chief Executive Pay: $93,000 (A)

Finance Director: N/A
 
Planning Director: $67,546
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#17 New Shoreham

Chief Executive Pay: $95,146 (A)

Finance Director: $85,058
 
Planning Director: N/A
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#16 Warwick

Chief Executive Pay: $100,000 (E)

Finance Director: $118,249
 
Planning Director: $97,648
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#15 Smithfield

Chief Executive Pay: $100,940 (A)

Finance Director: $77,250
 
Planning Director: $65,920
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#14 Jamestown

Chief Executive Pay: $106,957 (A)

Finance Director: $82,426
 
Planning Director: $71,481
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#13 Burrillville

Chief Executive Pay: $110,520 (A)

Finance Director: $80,000
 
Planning Director: $80,000
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#12 North Kingstown

Chief Executive Pay: $111,394 (A)

Finance Director: $82,442
 
Planning Director: $82,442
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#11 Westerly

Chief Executive Pay: $117,305 (A)

Finance Director: $106,088
 
Planning Director: $76,812
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#10 West Warwick

Chief Executive Pay: $120,000 (A)

Finance Director: $91,357
 
Planning Director: $69,000
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#9 Coventry

Chief Executive Pay: $122,000 (A)

Finance Director: $97,150
 
Planning Director: $83,884
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#8 Providence

Chief Executive Pay: $123,762 (E)

Finance Director: $140,000
 
Planning Director: $85,098
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#7 East Providence

Chief Executive Pay: $125,000 (A)

Finance Director: $112,210
 
Planning Director: $97,350
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#6 Portsmouth

Chief Executive Pay: $126,000 (A)

Finance Director: $95,819
 
Planning Director: $78,382
 
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#5 East Greenwich

Chief Executive Pay: $131,005 (A)

Finance Director: $96,255
 
Planning Director: $77,835
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#4 Newport

Chief Executive Pay: $135,000 (A)

Finance Director: $120,799
 
Planning Director: $100,531
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#3 Barrington

Chief Executive Pay: $143,977 (A)

Finance Director: $106,194
 
Planning Director: $75,716
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#2 Middletown

Chief Executive Pay: $147,350 (A)

Finance Director: $97,025
 
Planning Director: $89,436
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#1 South Kingstown

Chief Executive: $153,853 (A)

Finance Director: $119,610
 
Planning Director: $93,181
 
 

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