Teachers Go Public in Bid for Fair Compensation

Saturday, March 24, 2012
teacher with flyer
On Thursday, March 15, the Boston Teachers Union released some startling breaking news: Boston City Hall would remain open until 6 pm every day as all employees and major vendors agree to donate their services each day for 30 minutes.

 

The press release was a creative spoof that garnered media attention to the city's efforts to force teachers to work longer days for no increased pay. That same day, advertisements ran in 20 local newspapers urging readers to “Tell the Boston Public Schools to Stop the War on Teachers!’’ and BTU staff, teacher leaders from around the state, local labor leaders, members of other city unions, community members and others handed out fliers to passersby at City Hall Plaza at lunchtime. 

“The idea is to get some movement and get the city to back off having us underwrite an extended day,’’ Richard Stutman, the teachers union president, said as he handed out the fliers.

That day teachers around the city wore stickers that said, "Open 'til 6" in honor of the campaign to get everybody in City Hall to donate their time and services just as the Superintendant wants BPS teachers to do. The stickers were an important way for us to point out that Boston teachers--alone, of all city employees--have been asked to work an extended day without compensation. The BTU also rented an airplane to fly over City Hall pulling a banner that said, "Open Until 6."

A pivotal item at issue in contract negoatiations is whether or not the city will pay teachers for working an extra 30 minutes per day, one of several unresolved proposals that have caused the negotiations to continue for 22 months.

The BTU does support an extension of the school day. It will be good for our students--but we also believe that we ought to be properly compensated for our time, just as is everyone else. You can help, too, by signing our online petition. Thank you for working with us as we negotiate a contract that is good for students, affordable to the city, and fair to our members.

 

Check out the March 16 Boston Globe article, and read up on the latest in contract negotiation updates on the BTU website.

The full text of the March 15 BTU press release:


CITY HALL to Remain Open Until 6:00 Every Day as All Employees and Major Vendors Agree to Donate Services for 30 Minutes Daily
Mayor Urges Teachers to Follow Suit
 

The mayor announced this morning that Boston City Hall, normally open until 5:30 PM, will now remain open until 6:00 PM every day. As a result, all 720 city hall-based employees have agreed to work an extended day without any additional compensation.

 In a surprise move, NStar, Verizon, and National Grid, all of whom provide utility service to the city, have agreed to donate their goods and services to the city for that half hour as well. Discussions with Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) are ongoing, but a spokesperson has indicated that BWSC will most likely follow suit provided the city promises to conserve water.

Added Pressure on Teachers Union to Follow Suit; Supt: "Teachers are Paid Enough"
The teachers union and the school department have been at loggerheads for 21 months on the issue of whether the city's teachers ought to subsidize a 30-minute extension of the school day by working without any additional compensation. The school superintendent has repeatedly stated that "teachers are paid enough." She added that "we already expect them to buy their own supplies. Why shouldn't they work for free as well? I can't see why the BTU is being so unreasonable."  

Today's breakthrough places added pressure on the city's teachers to work a longer school day without any additional pay. 

 

State Street Bank Asked to Forego $29M in Interest Payments on City-Held Bonds; Mellon Bank Already in Agreement
At the press conference today the mayor stated that there were a few loose ends still to be worked out as he attempted to re-negotiate with the city's major bondholders to forego interest payments for 30 minutes each day. The mayor expressed guarded optimism that State Street Bank would in effect donate $29 million in "lost" interest payments to the city each year. "They are working with us to help the city," the mayor said. A spokesperson for State Street Bank was unavailable for comment. Mellon Bank has already agreed to a waiver of 20 minutes per day in foregone interest payments, but the mayor is pressing for the full 30 minutes.

FedEx, Mass General, Chamber of Commerce Each on Board for "Good of the City"
Federal Express and UPS have both agreed to extend deliveries through 6:00 PM to City Hall with the understanding that there will be "no additional charge" for deliveries during that time. The mayor has also asked nearby merchants for the same accommodation. Mass General Hospital has agreed to waive all emergency room fees from 5:30 to 6 but has asked local residents to refrain from getting sick or injured during that time. The city's outside legal counsel, Goodwin, Procter & Hoar, agreed to donate 2 ½ hours per week "to help the cause" as did Ernst and Young, the city's accounting firm. Paul Guzzi, head of the Boston Chamber of Commerce, has called on all members who do business with the city and its residents to waive all fees for goods and services for no less than 30 minutes per day "for the good of the city." The only noteworthy holdout appears to be the $1 billion Boston Foundation whose CEO, Paul Grogan, insisted that "charity begins at home" and that he didn't think the mayor's policy "would be an incubator for much-needed systemic reform." 

At press time, many vendors, it appears, were joining suit.

Comcast, Verizon Only Too Glad to Comply; Verizon May Throw in FiOS
Comcast has just agreed to waive its premium service add-on fee (HBO and STARZ) for 30 minutes per night for all city residents, and the Boston Red Sox have agreed to give away free hot dogs during the 7th inning stretch. Verizon could not confirm at press time if it would follow suit, but said that it might consider offering a special deal to keep pace with Comcast. "Plus, we may throw in FiOS," a Verizon spokesperson added.

So, What's Up with the BTU?
The mayor intends to create a "30 Minute Free Zone" around the city where all local merchants and businesses would provide no-cost goods and services within the Hub. "This is truly wonderful," said the mayor. "Everyone working together for the good of the city. I don't understand why the teachers won't agree to work without pay as well."

(this is a spoof)