August 12, 2014

Reaction to a judicial ruling that favors cafeteria workers

Reactions to this story about a judicial ruling that went against the Board of Education yesterday:

Mike Petosa, president of the Greater Bristol Labor Council:
"It's time for the Board of Education to stop this madness and to put their people back to work the way it used to be.
"... Go back to the status quo.Let them do the job they were initially hired to do."
He said the judge's decision shows once again "the dedication and hard work" the union has demonstrated in trying protect 53 cafeteria workers whose jobs would be lost if the school cafeterias are privatized.
He said the unions in Bristol "will always fight" to protect the rights of working people that are under assault across the country from Republicans "who want to bust the unions and knock down the middle class."
"We're going to fight it in this city. This city is about taking of its people."

Mary Fortier, Democratic city councilor:
"I am certainly happy with Judge Schuman's ruling but it is a shame that the cafeteria workers have to continue to be ping pong balls in this mess."

Calvin Brown, Democratic city councilor:
School board members "Fitzgerald, Amara, Dolan, Morgan, and Dube have continued to morbidly abuse these 53 cafeteria workers for well over a year now. The Commissioners lost the Labor Ruling, now they've lost their misguided request for a stay on that ruling, and they'll lose again if they continue to fight this vindictive legal battle in the courts. It's time for the Board of Education to admit they illegally bargained in bad faith and stop wasting taxpayer time and money."

Karen Vibert, Democratic Board of Education member:
"On the record, all responses to media are supposed to go through the BOE chair; however, the BOE chair, contrary to Robert's Rules, did not allow me to speak at the last meeting, basically cutting me off and ending the meeting because I disagreed with him, so I will speak here.
"I have been a supporter of the cafeteria workers because last year the BOE negotiating committee and the Union reached a tentative agreement and the Union gave back more at the table in terms of wages and benefits than I ever imagined they would.  It was more than fair.  It was unfortunate that the full Board then voted against the agreement and the issue then went into the costly world of egos and legal battles.  These legal battles may take months, if not years, before final decisions are rendered.  The Republican majority voting to sign a contract with the Whitson company put the Board into more legal and financial jeopardy.  To quote the judge's order, 'The Plaintiff; -- the Board of Education -- 'must accept the consequences of its own choice.'"

Chris Wilson, Democratic Board of Education member and former chairman:
"First of all please be aware my response is my own and not that of the Bristol BOE, However the minority position has not been articulated because it has been in opposition to the majority.
"I believe the Tentative agreement negotiated between  Bargaining unit 2267 and the Bristol BOE was fair. Both sides gave concessions to reach a settlement.
"Unfortunately, the Republican Majority (none of which had been involved in negotiations as a BOE member) decided not to support the agreement.  The arbitration ruling allowed that the BOE could privatize. But one still is compelled to negotiate in 'good faith.' The Labor Relations Board determined that had not happened and their remedy was to put in place the Tentative Agreement.
"At this point,  the majority, has decided to appeal and requested a stay of the Labor Relations ruling. Now that stay request has been dissolved.
"It is clear the board acted prematurely in executing a contract with Whitson’s prior to all of the legal remedies being exhausted. This case is now in the hands of the courts to determine if MR. Amara did not negotiate in 'Good Faith.'
"Since , that ruling,  and any appeal thereof could go either way, I believe it is time to put this matter to rest and not spend any more money on this matter.  From the beginning, this case has been  framed by the majority as saving considerable amounts of money.  It is clear any savings will be eaten up in legal fees.
"I see no reason to spend bad money after good. The cafeteria workers have been put through the mill,  it is time for it to stop. If,  through the tentative agreement the shortfall cannot be reduced then the administration will need to reengineer how it delivers food service. Labor can and should be a part of that discussion.
"It is time for all parties to begin working together instead of in opposition to each other. Enough is enough!"

Ellen Zoppo-Sassu, Democratic city councilor:
"I believe the cost savings that implementing the Tentative Agreement would have achieved last winter would have far outweighed whatever alleged savings and beyond  that is now being spent by the Republican leadership on legal fees to justify their shaky position. The fact that, after yet another setback, they are still trying to insist they are right, is sad and is a distraction from what they should be doing as elected leaders. Three wrongs don't make a right."

Jill Fitzgerald, Republican Board of Education member:
"No comments on the ruling. Need to hear from legal counsel."

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