PORTSMOUTH, R.I. -- A Superior Court judge has ruled that a disagreement between the Portsmouth School Committee and the town's teachers' union must be hashed out at the State Labor Relations Board.
At stake is who has authority over teacher hiring: school committees or teacher contracts with seniority protections.
State Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist has told school districts that seniority is no longer the sole criterion for hiring teachers. The Portsmouth School Committee argued that it does not have to negotiate this issue with the 200-member union.
On one hand this is a loss for Commissioner Gist, but on the other hand, it shows she successfully bluffed the whole state with an obviously weak legal argument, so probably a win overall for her.
I'd call it even more or less between the PTU and City of Providence. It certainly validates the City's approach of making what I consider to be major concessions (others disagree) in order to get the personnel changes enshrined in the new contract rather than hanging by the thin reed of Gist's memo.
The clear loser here should be vocal group of people who argued for a harder line by the city on the negotiations. If talks were still ongoing, the city's bargaining position would have just fallen out from underneath it, and things would be even more chaotic and uncertain than they are now -- especially since we'd now have to wait for a ruling from the Labor Relations Board.