Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/leftinlowell/leftinlowell.com/wp-includes/functions.php on line 330

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Dependencies in /home/leftinlowell/leftinlowell.com/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-support/wordpress-support.php(10) : runtime-created function(1) : eval()'d code(1) : eval()'d code on line 1
Left In Lowell » Blog Archive » Sigh…

Left In Lowell

Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs

2013 Candidate Questionnaire Responses!

October 18, 2011


by at 10:24 am.

It’s never pleasant when you have to do this to a friend. I stick by my comments the other day when I was angry about the leaks of executive session regarding the school committee. Never mind that it is my friend Jackie who was the source of the leak, whose motivations I believe have always been pure and whose frustrations are likely at a fever pitch with these negotiations.

Never mind, too, that there’s a huge argument to be made for opening up the union negotiations for teachers or other public employees. I had not realized that other communities have open negotiations, in part, or some even fully open. I have to wonder if it’s better than this goddamned cloak and dagger bullcrap we’ve been faced with for years, even if we’d be viewing the messy “sausage-making” commenter evelyn talked about in the previous post.

It might even benefit the teachers, if, as I have come to learn, there are remarkably awful provisions not related to money or the raise that were in the offer from the school committee. Making such provisions automatically public might help the teachers’ case that the rejection was not about the raise, it was about other things.

And I have also come to learn that Paul Georges is as responsible for leaking details of the negotiations as anyone else - in fact, did it long before Jackie did. I learned that from a first hand account. That he could be so hypocritical about the school committee leaks this weekend shows you what sort of character he has. I’m disgusted by him as well. Perhaps more so, for the hypocrisy.

And it took a lot of guts for Jackie to come out and say it was her. I’m glad she did so we can clear this up. She wrote a detailed letter to the editor about the situation, and you should read it. I’m going to leave it up to you, the readers, to figure out if you can live with her actions and reelect her to the school committee. Perhaps, for myself, I find it hard to call for the resignation of someone I know to be generally honest, smart, and good at her elected job, and maybe I still don’t know how I feel about the situation, myself, or even, how I’ll vote after this.

It’s obvious to me that she felt that the playing field was unfair with Georges dictating what went public, and perhaps the frustrations and the actions it prompted were justified. They also weren’t justified, in that it does break executive session, and as such, is a serious concern.

Whatever you as voters decide, one thing is obvious to me - the whole system is totally broken. Whether that’s because of the actions of certain individuals like Georges, who want to claim victimhood after they themselves were guilty over and over of the same misdeed, or because there is something inherently wrong with executive session negotiations and we need to address the process itself, I don’t have the answers to that. All I know is that I’m really sad we came to this point.

56 Responses to “Sigh…”

  1. Fran McDougall Says:

    I am disappointed with the decision to “leak” what was on the table. My first day on the job as a Lowell teacher was in September, 1988. Those who remember that opening day will understand my concern for the “sanctity” of the negotiations conversations.

  2. Lynne Says:

    I think in many ways, and for a long time now, Paul Georges has been a bane to sanity in Lowell politics, and he has GOT to go.

    There’s being a tough negotiator on behalf of your union, and then there’s poisoning the well for the sake of poisoning the well. The teachers are not well served when there’s unneccessary bitterness between the SC and the union.

    He has gone too far, again and again. This is not the first time. Nor will it be the last. HE at the very least should be fired.

  3. Lowell Resident Says:

    So if you agree with the motivation (and are a friend) of the second person, then two wrongs make a right?

  4. Lynne Says:

    Wow, did you actually read my post? Jesus, people.

    I didn’t say it was right. In fact, I very much said that it was a wrong…”the actions it prompted were justified. They also weren’t justified, in that it does break executive session, and as such, is a serious concern.”

    But I am saying it was brave and honest to come out and admit to it.

    I also think we ought to understand the context that this was done in, that both sides here have done it, and so Georges is being VERY dishonest when he whines about “negotiating in good faith” which he CLEARLY has not done. At the very least, you can clearly see that Jackie was tying to be honest and keep an honest debate, even if I disagree on the method she used to do it. The fact that Georges has been an ass this whole time and himself violate executive session over and over and over again doesn’t excuse Jackie from doing it, but it does make it very understandable as to WHY she did.

    But I am very unhappy about all this, and yes, disappointed, I think this could have been handled far better. Hell I would have been HAPPY to berate Paul Georges for his part in this withOUT Jackie’s reciprocation, had I known about it. Instead, it gets to be added to a very sad chapter in the School Committee’s recent history. On all sides.

  5. Magnolia Says:

    Hey Lynne, If Jackie hadn’t beat him to it, Georges would have oopsied something sooner rather than later. The man is known for not telling the teachers ( especially the younger ones) all the facts when discussing bargaining. After all his career is not at stake- so he will hold out for all that is best for him and to hell with the newest and brighest. I am surprised that Georges has not threatened job action by now. Personally I think everything should be public so we could know where the two sides are standing.

  6. Lowell Resident Says:

    I did read it. You aknowledged she was wrong then deflected to attack Paul Georges to justify her wrongness. Deflecting criticism of one by saying “He’s just as bad” sounds like dare I say a typical *Republican* strategy. Instead of a single post dedicated to the fact that your friend was wrong, you had to put all that stuff about Paul Georges to equivocate. You are a smart person and you know the power of words and you know what you were doing with this post.

    Paul Georges is good at what he does. He is not supposed to be loved by the public. No union leader is going to get the love of the Lowell Sun for anything except being a total pushover. He is supposed to advocate for his side. He wasn’t elected by the public to be a nice guy. He’s elected by his members to represent their interests at a time when union-bashing from the right AND People like you on the left is at an all time high. At the same time as you are totally in favor of legislatively circumventing collective bargaining to take away teacher’s health benefits, you act as though the school committee is totally magnanimous in their dealers with the mean Mr. Georges.

  7. Jack Says:

    Hey LR, cry me a river.

    “… People like you on the left is at an all time high. At the same time as you are totally in favor of legislatively circumventing collective bargaining to take away teacher’s health benefits, …”

    Hmmm … I luvs me some mid afternoon hyperbole!

    When your friends don’t have your back, maybe you should think about what you’re doing? Kinda like when France wouldn’t back Bush/Cheney invading Iraq.

  8. Lynne Says:

    Shoot, I am not a robot, OMGWTF!!111!! *rolls eyes*

    Unlike SOME types, I like to show context and information rather than to withhold it. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else.

    I chose to outline the ACTUAL story (context) than just scream and shout. How awful of me. You’re right, next time, I should not explain any context, I should dictate to people how to make up their own minds, and on top of that - never ever ever be honest about how I actually feel. (In this case, torn as hell.)

    Regarding your defense of Georges…as far as I can tell, Paul Georges is poison to the process. I’m not talking like strategic poison used to maybe curtail an even worse disease, I’m talking poison poison. As in, NOT useful to the side he is working for. This is not the first time I have seriously questioned his integrity, his methods, or if what he’s done REALLY is in the best interest of the union he supposedly serves.

    If you want to be a good negotiator, you should try starting with good will and working your way down from there, if it becomes necessary. You get more flies with honey than vinegar…and not EVERYTHING has to be contentious all the time, for someone in his position to do his job.

    He does his union a disservice, over and over, with his methods and his attitude. The SC is NOT the enemy - unless you make it so. This is not to absolve the SC of some of the blame for this stupid back and forth - but Georges is not an honest man. Period, end of story. If he were my union leader, I’d be worried he wasn’t being honest with ME either.

    “At the same time as you are totally in favor of legislatively circumventing collective bargaining to take away teacher’s health benefits”

    Where the hell did you get this? I never made such a statement, but thanks for playing.

  9. Lynne Says:

    By the way, being pro-union does NOT mean I am required to love every move the unions make, every deal they get handed, or ploy they employ.

    I am also a tax payer. AND someone who likes sanity. So, get over it. Unions have to be accountable too.

  10. Lynne Says:

    In other words, it is just as knee-jerk to love everything the unions do as it is for the other side to hate them reflexively.

  11. Lowell Resident Says:

    You 100% support legislatively circumventing collective bargaining, what do you think Bernie Lynch’s beloved “plan design” powers are!? Giving the city the power to design a health plan outside of collective bargaining. Period.

    If he wasn’t hated in this climate, in this town, with this newspaper, he wouldnt be doing his job.

    And I don’t mind that you hate him. I mind the fact that you just threw him up there to justify Jackie Doherty’s illegal action. Two wrongs don’t make a right. She called the teachers in our city “sharks.” That is not fit for an elected official to say about our public servants. So blame it all on one man, but there’s enough poison to go around and a lot of it comes from your ideological ally in this fight against the evil Teacher’s Union, Jim Campanini.

  12. Lowell Resident Says:

    But I will say this, if she truly talked to the reporter “on background” then the reporter should not have placed it in the story without independent verification and absolutely should not have printed any quotes. The article says that the school committee member wanted to remain anonymous which is much different from being on background.

  13. Lynne Says:

    I actually never said that. I really don’t have an opinion either way on that, though I think the unions should look at helping the city lower its medical coverage costs for their OWN sakes.

    Seriously, go back and check. I don’t ever remember coming out with an opinion one way or other on that specific issue. But if you would like to prove me wrong there’s teh Google or the site search on the sidebar.

    I didn’t throw him up there to deflect from anything Jackie did. But please keep assuming you KNOW my motivations.

    What happened was I found out about the stuff Georges has done SINCE my last post, so, it was important CONTEXT.

    Keep digging.

  14. joe from Lowell Says:

    She called the teachers in our city “sharks.”

    Actually, she called the negotiators from the school committee “sharks.” You’re not going to tag Jackie Doherty as anti-teacher with vague slight of hand like that.

    your ideological ally

    Neighbor, please! Yeah, this is Lynne’s ideological anti-union sentiment. Too much Ayn Rand. That’s our Lynne.

  15. joe from Lowell Says:

    If he wasn’t hated in this climate, in this town, with this newspaper, he wouldnt be doing his job.

    Sure, but to flip that around, just because he’s hated, doesn’t prove anything about how he’s doing his job. There are a lot of unions in this city. How many union heads are hated?

  16. mackie Says:

    I agree with you 100%; bith of them were wrong and she should be voted out because she can’t be trusted and he should be fired as he does not let his employees know what is being offere. Have a nice day.

  17. Prince Charming Says:

    What Georges did was unethical. What she did was illegal.

  18. Michelle Says:

    Jen Myers did misquote her. It was the negotiators she was calling sharks not the teachers. Nice little twist there.

  19. Jen Myers Says:

    I did not misquote her. It was clear in the story she was referencing the “union leaders” not the teachers. See below:

    As contract negotiations continue behind closed doors between the School Committee and United Teachers of Lowell, one School Committee member tells The Sun that union leaders refused a 3 percent raise offered by the committee this week.

    “They are sharks,” said the committee member, who agreed to speak anonymously because negotiations are protected by executive-session privilege. “We have really extended ourselves with the best offer we could make, but it is not enough for them.”

  20. Lowell Resident Says:

    I should have known I’d be getting it from all angles for daring to defend the undefendable. Larry Lucchino’s gotten more positive press lately than Paul Georges. If there is one consensus in this town, its that we all are supposed to hate Paul Georges (as I joked earlier, Lynne and Campanini are in total agreement on this issue.)

    My point was I objected with the “context” that I felt was used to give excuses for what the School Committee member said. In fact, if there were two separate posts, I’d probably not have even bothered. I felt like the post had a lot of “Yeah but…”

    As for the “sharks” comment, Maybe it was meant to represent the people in the room. The people in the room were representing the teachers. Even if they are just the other side, its not ok for a person representing our city to call the people they’re negotiating with “sharks.” I’m sorry I dont agree with those who are justifying the use of that term.

    as for Sure, but to flip that around, just because he’s hated, doesn’t prove anything about how he’s doing his job. There are a lot of unions in this city. How many union heads are hated?
    I think that proves my point. You don’t hear about the other unions and you always hear about how the teachers are holding out, the teachers are getting the better deal, etc. etc. To me, thats a union leader who is doing is job if he is getting the best for his members.

    Jackie Doherty is an public official and the voters in Lowell will get to decide whether she is fit for service in the next term in a few weeks.

    Paul Georges is not a public official. Whether he is fit to be the president of the United Teachers of Lowell is not up to the public, the Lowell Sun, this blog, or anyone else besides the members of his union. The one thing I do object to is the idea that some people who never set foot in a classroom are now trying to pick who should be the head of the teacher’s union. I am not a teacher. I am, unlike some others in this thread, a proud product of the Lowell Public Schools and I am fierce advocate of union rights. The members of the UTL should get to pick the President of the UTL, not the people of Lowell. He is not there to represent the taxpayers, he’s there to get the best deal for his members. Its also not up to you or to Jackie Doherty or to Jim Campanini to decide whats best for his members. Complaining about him from that angle is like complaining about why the head of the GOP isn’t interested in whats best for Obama.

  21. joe from Lowell Says:

    You don’t hear about the other unions and you always hear about how the teachers are holding out, the teachers are getting the better deal, etc. etc. To me, thats a union leader who is doing is job if he is getting the best for his members.

    Some of them, anyway. You know, all of those staff positions that were cut over the years while the union took a hard line on raises and step increases were members, too. The other unions in town seem to go out of their way to spread the pain in order to save jobs when budgets are tight.

    He is not there to represent the taxpayers, he’s there to get the best deal for his members…Complaining about him from that angle is like complaining about why the head of the GOP isn’t interested in whats best for Obama.

    And again, not every union in this city takes this rather stark us-against-them stance towards…you know…the city of Lowell. If you view the relationship between Lowell and the teachers union to be this sharply adversarial, comparable to Barack Obama and the GOP, then you’re going to have to get used to quite a bit of pushback from Lowell, and you’re going to have to go a lot lighter on the public interest arguments.

  22. Renee Says:

    It’s unfortunate Jackie Doherty slipped out of frustration, but there’s a difference between being a passionate advocate for yourself/organization and another being obnoxious without regard to the situation. Can’t negotiate for something that realisticly can’t be achieved. Sure no one wants to underesmate their value, but coming to an agreement shouldn’t be a game of chicken.

  23. Lowell Resident Says:

    They hasnt been a new contract since 2009…If you believe the Lowell Sun and the School Committee spin, they have been getting all sorts of raises and new benefits throughout the recession. The truth is they have been working without a contract basically since the recession began. There are plenty of examples of the teachers working with the city, they just ignored as the city wants more and more concessions because the climate is very much “You should be thankful you even have a job.” That makes a very strong anti-worker environment in a town that already has a newspaper thats been on anti-teachers union jihad since even I was a student in the Lowell Public Schools.

  24. Magnolia Says:

    Joe from Lowell- You have it right . I am a former member of 1705 and participated in several bargaining committees over the years. I can recall several times when we really worked hard and gave up things in order to keep jobs, rather then let them go in order to get raises for those left. Georges is the complete opposite- he wants the money, and as I said earlier, to hell with the younger ones. He has threatened job action before and my guess is, he will do it again. We can only hope that this School Committee holds firm.

  25. Jack Says:

    What are step raises and do teachers reach a plateau at the top step?

    And yes, it is tough to be a worker in this time and town. I hear plenty from card carrying Union members or retirees that voted for Scott Brown. Don’t even think my heart bleeds for them. Brown didn’t stop “Romney-Obama Care,” but he did stop “Card check.”

  26. Lowell Resident Says:

    Look, I dont want this to get into a discussion the relative pros anc cons of Paul Georges (although it already has in large part), because he is not the one making the news. He is not an elected official who intentionally leak privileged information to the anti-union newspaper. Diverting the focus to him is just to take the heat off of Jackie Doherty. I would never say the man is perfect, or all his tactics are always pure, but I think its ridiculous that people can complain about how overly generous the teachers’ benefits supposedly are and then say he’s not a good union president. As I always say when people complain about the benefits that are won in good-faith negotiatons, its the employer who ultimately signs off.

    As for those who think they will threaten job action, its going on 2 1/2 years without a contract, no raises since 2009, while health insurance options are now taken out of collective bargaining thanks to the Lynchs and Deval Patricks of the world, and teachers still show up to work every day and deal with educating the youth in an urban school system.

    But I’ve said enough. I dont mind being the voice in the wilderness because unlike some other so-called liberals, I stand by my principles when it comes to collective bargaining, I side with the working people, others want to side with Jim Campanini.

  27. Lowell Resident Says:

    Are you asking me as a quiz? Or do you seriously not know? Look, I’m not like some other guys who like to blog off the cuff with no solid understanding of the facts. You can outsmart them almost 100% of the time, but I know what I’m talking about. I actually like you Jack and Lynne and everyone else. I usually just chime in when I disagree and thats usually with over the top bashing of the local state legislators past and present and when you take the side of anti-union forces. Otherwise I agree with you almost all the time. But I digress…

    Step raises are already a part of the underlying agreement thats been carried over since 2009. They are a standard practice to bump up the salary for each individual teacher after X amount of years of service. There is a plateau after so many years. Step increases become less frequent after so many years of service. There are plenty of teachers who make the same salary today as they did three years ago. And yes, that is true for many other workers, myself included.

    For the record, I was never making the argument of “poor poor teachers, they get no raises.” I was pointing out that they havent negotiated any additional benefits since the recession began. They have worked with the school committee and the city on several factors. Even on the issue of health care, there were figures to show that a majority of current teachers switched away from major medical and a large chunk of health care costs were going to retirees. Some people want them to “give back” more. But if you want to be fair, remember the state kicks in a lot more of the K-12 funding than they do for regular local aid. So while the other unions may have had to give back more, the state sent that money for educational purposes. Its not even a fair direct comparison. Unless you support diverting education funds to other city purposes (which ultimately happens anyways.)

    My point has not been that the teachers are suffering any worse than anyone else except in the court of public opinion, but they also aren’t thriving as much as the Campaninis of the world like to pretend either. The 3% raise that the formerly anonymous school committee member leaked to the media was spread out and would come after several years of 0%. Now I know nowadays people are just supposed to be thankful to have a job and have an overall defeatist attitude when it comes to making a living.

    Above people want the school committee to stand firm. Why shouldnt the other side want their advocate to stand firm as well? Especially when the government side is CHEATING. I dont care, its not a fair negotiation when one side can just unilaterally go to the legislature and change the rules!

  28. Joe S Says:

    I don’t believe the teachers are without a contract, but rather they are working under the provisions of the old contract. And as far as health benefits being reduced, isn’t that one aspect of current negotiations, albeit with the threat of a major change if the negotiation cannot be successfully concluded?

  29. Right in Lowell Says:

    Georges is not an elected representative of the people, therefore, he is held to a different standard. Even though I believe he’s a despicable person and do not understand why the entire union follows him like he’s the next coming of Christ; Jackie has to be held to a higher standard and should resign. It would be unfortunate to lose her but it’s the right thing to do. She’s lost a lot of votes. All city union negotiation sessions should be public events to avoid this kind of thing.

  30. Lynne Says:

    The title of my post is now for LR, who loves to put thoughts, motivations, and words in my mouth.

    Again, prove I ever said I was pro-plan-design, or STFU. *shrug*

    I am honestly on the fence on that generally, because I know it can be a good thing OR a bad thing depending. Also, I don’t know enough ABOUT it to make a solid opinion.

    If the unions get the same coverage or better coverage under plan design, is it still a terrible very bad awful thing? Or are you not caring about results so much as process? We can argue about that, but don’t put words in my mouth please.

  31. Lowell Resident Says:

    Let me take it a step back then. I absolutely dont believe in personal attacks or guilty by association. So if I was truly mistaken on your stance on “plan design,” I do apologize. It was not my intention to put thoughts or motivations or words in your mouth on that. As for the initial subject, I still feel as though the post reads as “Jackie was wrong, but how can you blame her when she has to deal with Big Bad Paul Georges.” Thats my interpertation of how the post read, if thats putting words in your mouth, so be it, but at least I was interpeting the written post at that point. The other subject maybe not so much.

    So if you have never expressed support for plan design, I am sorry for assuming you did. Maybe it was someone else on this blog, or maybe just somewhere else altogether. I am not wishy-washy because although I am 100% for the city saving money on healthcare, I am not a believer of ‘ends justify the means’ when it comes to saving that money. I do believe the difference between Wisconsin and Massachusetts is a matter of scale–a great deal of scale–but scale nonetheless, in principle, you are taking something that was bargained for out of bargaining through legislative means. But to answer your question, it is a matter of process. Thats why I salute the many many teachers who switched health plans voluntarily to save themselves and the city money. And I do think that master medical should be negotiated away. The big hang up is the retirees who are no longer directly represented by a union. Also there’s not much give and take during a recession. It’s basically “we need you to give back and give back more and trust us…”

    The point of bringing that subject up was not even to try to brand people on this blog as fair-weather union supporters (although I did do that, I admit it). It was to point out that the school committee has done its own share of tough negotiating tactics including getting this huge advantage handed to them by the state legislature. My reference to “so-called” liberals is mostly referring to the Democrats who supported this measure (including your favorite state rep, Mr. Nangle, there see I can criticize the GOB’s when they’re wrong too!). Two of your other (real) favorites, Bernie Lynch and Deval Patrick, were other big proponents–so maybe thats why I made the assumption. No excuses though, I was wrong to assume your stance.

    To make yet another (hopefully my last) baseball analogy. If I was a superstar baseball player, I would hire Scott Boras as my agent. Not too many people in baseball are hated more than Scott Boras. But he got Alex Rodriguez $300 million. I dont think either one of them loses sleep over the fact that a lot of people don’t like Scott Boras. And the New York Yankees have nobody else to blame for paying A-Rod that much money than themselves.

  32. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    I am glad that Jackie D came forward and took the shadow of doubt off her colleagues. That said she violated the rules and should somehow face some kind of punishment. Censure whatever from the school committee.

    Paul Georges “doing it” is not a valid reason for Jackie’s actions IMHO. I was always taught that 2 wrongs do not make a right.

    Personally I don’t think this incident will hurt her next month since she owned up to it. Had it been discovered after denials, that would have been different.

  33. joe from Lowell Says:

    Lowell Resident,

    The thing is, I am a very rich target for your pro-union sentiments. I am someone who is reflexively pro-union, someone who stayed up refreshing the results of the Wisconsin recall elections.

    But I’m not going to ignore everything I know about how this particular union has been operating because someone starts using the “objectively pro-Saddam” argument about the editor of the Lowell Sun.

  34. joe from Lowell Says:

    Union solidarity means valuing every member equally.

    My heart strings become harder to tug when I don’t see that.

  35. Politics at Work Says:

    I agree with those who have said Jackie Doherty was right to come forward with the truth, but was wrong to break the rules. She should now recuse herself from negotiations with the teachers union until a new contract is settled - although that may be more of a reward than a punishment!

  36. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    I don’t think recusing herself from the vote would be appropriate, but some kind of action by her colleagues against her would probably be in order.

  37. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    Come to think of it, a few years ago didn’t the CC and SC pass motions to deal with violation of the secrecy of executive sessions?

    I seem to recall it was following a rash of incidents where information from executive sessions got into the paper. I believe they were to be investigated by the DA?

  38. Prince Charming Says:

    You don’t know how much it pains me to say that I have to agree with Nutter. She needs to go. It appears that she knew that she was breaking the law. Frustrations or not, she has no excuse. I wouldn’t trust her if I were on the opposite side of the table and I wouldn’t trust her if I was on her side of the table. The voters will decide. She should make it easier for us by suspending her campaign, taking down her signs and calling it a night.

  39. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    After reading Gerry Nutter’s blog about this, he does make some very valid points!

  40. Jack Says:

    I wouldn’t write Jackie off, just yet. ;v)

  41. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    I’m not writing her off, if you read my post #32 I said I don’t think this will hurt her, and I still don’t, but I do think Nutter raises some valid points.

  42. evelyn Says:

    While leaks to the press (by both sides) were against the rules, the bigger issue here is that most teachers learned about a 3% offer from the Lowell Sun and not from the union negotiator who had only previously released a 0,0,-1% plan. The problem that Ms. Doherty created was dissension in the ranks among teachers who felt that they have been lied to by the person who is supposed to be representing them at the bargaining table, or if not lied to (by leaving the old numbers out there past their viability, then at least not having been told the truth as the process goes along. When the story being told is only half truth, what is the other half?

    Maybe Ms. Doherty meant to cause this split among the membership, maybe she didn’t. The fact remains that she has created internal strife and resentment and both she and Mr. Georges can probably no longer be effective.

  43. Jack Says:

    I agree with you for the most part. These considerations are prominent in “the bubble” or “insiders,” as you say.

    But, ….

    On Wednesday night, at the last SC meeting, Jen Myers reported a gathering of 400 teachers outside City Hall, … in the RAIN. Georges has a smudge on his halo and I have noted the division in the ranks, but don’t expect a coup anytime soon.

  44. evelyn Says:


    I agree everyone recognizes they can’t change horses in mid-race. The protest was planned and people committed to it, but there is enough grumbling about not being given the whole story by leadership.

  45. Lowell Resident Says:

    Paul Georges…he’s so ineffective!
    Those teachers, their benefits are way too generous!

  46. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    Having been in a union negotiation or two I can tell you that until the bargaining team is close to a deal, or wants guidance from the rank and file, they do not discuss the day to day, offer by offer negotiations with the membership. The membership elects their bargainers and if they don’t think that they are doing a good job they replace them.

    Overall I would say Georges is doing a very good job for his union and that traditionally the SC does not do a good job representing the taxpayer or students probably out of fear of retaliation at the ballot box.

    Did Jackie plant the seeds of discontent within the union ranks intensionally? Perhaps but I tend to think she was reacting to Georges violating the secrecy of the negotiating table but Jackie went “nuclear” to Georges’ “hit and run” tactic.

  47. Lola Says:

    Are the benefits more generous than in surrounding towns? I think the job is more challenging in the city, so that is a good thing.

  48. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    Lola, I am not one that supports the notion that we should pay our public employees based on what other communities pay their public employees (that includes benefits).

    We need to pay them for the job they do and performance as well as ability of the community to pay has to be part of that equation.

    If public employees are paid based on what their counterparts in other communities are paid we will see an never ending spiral of increases that our community can not afford. Much like we are experiencing now.

    I am also not a big believer in standardized testing since the temptation is there to teach to the test which is a major disservice to the student in the overall scheme of things.

  49. Lola Says:

    So a Wellesley police officer should be paid more than a Boston police officer?

  50. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    So Boston should pay their police officers more based on what? City size?

    If that is the case Mayor Menino who is paid in the neighborhood of $150k a year which is about what Bernie Lynch is making, should be making in the neighborhood of $750K since Boston is about 5 times the size of Lowell. (If you want to do it by size of budget the disparity is even greater)

    So if you want a real exercise in numbers see what they pay in the smallest community in the state and extrapolate from there!

    It does not make any economic sense at all! Employees should be paid based on performance and the ability of the community to pay for it.

    BTW a Wellesley Cop makes an average of $48K w/o details, so to extrapolate, Wellesley has a population of about 27,000 so that would mean a Boston cop should make $846,000 w/o details based on population.

    Where do you draw the line?

  51. Mr. Lynne Says:

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that people doing the same job in dislike contexts shouldn’t necessarily be paid the same. In particular, the contexts must justify the disparity. I do think it is unreasonable to think that no such context can exist. Such contexts that might matter in the case of police could include the fatality and injury rate of officers, the relative size of departments compared with the size of their responsibilities, even geographically relative cost of living should matter (ask a cop or teacher in silicon valley).

  52. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    All those things apply to every job Mr. Lynne. What I object to is the mindset that X set of (fill in the blank public employees) in Y (town) make more than ours, so we need to pay ours more!

    Looking at other communities pay packages can only be applicable (should only be applicable) if the community you are comparing yourself to is similar. For Lowell that does not mean comparing itself to Chelmsfords or Wellselys or even Bostons of the world etc.
    Similar size communities with similar economic bases and median incomes are few. New Bedford is probably the closest with a population of 95k, but even then their median household income is higher, nearly $37K vs Lowell’s $23k and have a larger housing stock (for property taxes) 42,900 to 41,500.

    Seniority certainly has a place in the equation, but performance, which does not seem to have a seat at the table, needs to be a major consideration in determining salary and benefits.

  53. evelyn Says:

    I don’t think that Lowell has had any difficulty attracting or retaining teachers and would not for a long time - Massachusetts graduates more teachers than there are schools for them to fill and there are waiting lists in Lowell just like every other town.

    I do think that experience is a benefit, but seniority doesn’t always equal good experience that translates into performance. There are some teachers who come to the profession later in life, as a second career, who have advanced degrees in their field and are first to be laid off because seniority under the present system doesn’t equate to experience, only to the number of years a person has paid dues to a union. I question whether high school students would be better served being taught Literature by someone age 45 with a PhD in English who came to teaching as a second career versus someone with a BA and 10 years teaching right out of college. If graded by seniority, the PhD is cut. If graded by performance, then student outcomes would be compared.

    I just wonder whether the old system of a job for life regardless of performance is still in the best interests of school children and fair to new teachers?

  54. Joe S Says:

    ER, I think your income figures are wrong. According to the latest I have found (unfortunately from 1999), Lowell has a per capita income of $17,557 ($15,602 New Bedford) and household income of $39,192 ($27,569 NB). Things have changed, but not to the disparity that you noted.

    But I agree with your point that salaries should not be judged only by comparison to other communities.

    And I agree with Evelyn that factors other than seniority should be considered in compensation, although test scores should not be the driver for that judgment.

  55. ax41 Says:

    City-Data.com has estimates from 2009 for income , wages ,etc.
    In my view , New Bedford is not a useful analogy as it is too far from Boston and is in the orbit of Providence , R. I .It has ocean front and a dying industry in fishing .
    Brockton is the closer comparison .
    In Brockton , median household income rose between 2000 and 2009 40.6% to $47,342 ; in Lowell , median household income was up 23.1% in that period to $46,774.

  56. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    Joe S, you’re right I read wrong line in the census data, so Brockton would be a better comparison.


Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>

[powered by WordPress.]

If you are not on Twitter and want to follow our feed on Facebook, click "Like" for our FB page.
BadgermillCity logo


Recent Posts