City Teachers Refuse Work
Responding to what it describes as unfair and slow contract negotiations, the Cambridge Teachers Association (CIA) asked its members to begin a "work to rule" job action effective today.
The teachers union has instructed its members to refuse to perform any duties not required by their contract Principals and teachers will enter their respective schools as a group exactly 15 minutes before the start of classes this morning and leave together exactly 10 minutes after the end of school this afternoon, as required by their contract.
Teachers will grade papers and prepare for class only within the 45 minute preparation period allotted to them during the day, said I Conrad Solo, principal of the Graham and Parks elementary school. He added that teachers do not plan to hold parent-teacher conferences return Phone patents outside of School hours or attend weekly staff meetings.
"This job action something more server will continue until we get some results," said Roger O'Sullivan, a teacher and former union vice-president.
The union wants to keep its present health package and is asking for a greater increase in wages than the Cambridge School Committee has offered in six months of negotiations.
The move by the union came after a late night bargaining session with the school committee where teachers rejected a proposal. Union negotiators contend that the school committee added a new dimension to negotiations by proposing a decrease in health benefits.
"We really don't believe they appreciate the impact of that action," said Susan Noonan-Forster, president of CTA, adding that the association would file an unfair labor practice charge with the state labor relations commission.
Both School Superintendent Robert J. Peterkin and Cambridge Mayor I conard I Russell, the chairman of the school committee, said they were surprised at the union's action.
"We thought we were making headway." Peterkin said, adding that "negotiations were moving slowly in the spring and summer but recent progress had been rapid."
"We only have so much money." Peterkin said, explaining that the school committee could not offer higher benefits because of fiscal constraints placed on his office by Proposition 2 1/2. The 1980 tax-cutting measure limits the revenue Massachusetts cities may collect to 2 1/2 percent of assessed property values.
Peterkin said the job action should not interfere with classes but that he is worried about the safety of students on school grounds outside the school hours. The superintendent added that he would rely on the principals to insure children's safety even if it means they must break with their union.
"There will be no compromise concerning safety," Solo said. He explained that students will not be allowed in buildings after teachers have left and that buses already arrive within the teachers' contracted hours.
Solo added that there will be no extracurricular events outside normal school hours for the duration of the action.
This is the second time in four years that Cambridge teachers have instituted a work to rule job action, according to union president Forster