Auburn teachers seek contract, work to rule

AUBURN — Duncan Gelder, a sophomore at Edward Little High School, has noticed that teachers "are not there after school anymore."

Jose Leiva/Sun Journal Auburn teachers union head Tim Wegmann center, meets with teachers to discuss the" Work to rule " meaning teachers will do no more than their contracts calls for; volunteer activities by teachers will not be done due to lack of a contract.

At the Auburn Middle School, Roberta O'Neill, Carl Bucciantini and dozens of other teachers walked into school Tuesday morning — all together — at 7:13 a.m.

They usually go in around 6:30 to get ready for class.

"You want to be in your room early," O'Neill said. "It's very difficult time for teachers to work to rule."

Teachers said they're taking a stand.

To protest the lack of a labor contract agreement, they're going toward a work-to-rule move, which means teachers "are working to the letter of the contract" and no more, the head of the union said Tuesday.

"We're frustrated there's no progress," said Timothy Wegmann, president of the Auburn Education Association and teacher at Park Avenue School.

Auburn School Superintendent Thomas Morrill criticized the action as unprofessional, and said teachers have an obligation to students.

The Auburn teachers' contract expired in August 2008. Two big issues are health care and education policy language.
The school department wants to eliminate paying for health care premiums of teachers' spouses. In exchange they'd boost salaries and pay for 100 percent of the premium of teachers and their children.

Spouses of many teachers work for businesses that offer health care, but offer cash incentives for workers to take health insurance elsewhere, Morrill has said. Those businesses are avoiding a cost other employers accept, and are shifting that cost to Auburn taxpayers.

Teachers object. "Over the years, teachers have given up pay raises in lieu of benefits," said middle school teacher Bucciantini. "Now benefits are being cut."

Teachers and administrators also disagree over proposed contract language that teachers say could mean working more without being paid.

Many teachers come into their schools "for weeks or days in the summer on their own time" to prepare classrooms, Bucciantini said. "That's become an expectation."

On Tuesday, Wegmann met with Auburn Middle School teachers updating them on the negotiations, and talk about the work-to-rule move.

Teachers will continue to teach 100 percent during the school day as normal, he said. Because Maine labor laws do not allow teachers to strike, "the only thing we can do is withhold the extra things we do."

Those extras include staying after school or coming in before, chaperoning at dances, helping with fundraisers, volunteering during art or music nights, running drama or recycling clubs.

Superintendent Morrill called the union's action "another difficult thing."

Last week teachers refused to attend open houses when parents were scheduled to meet with teachers, prompting Morrill to cancel open houses.

Teachers are expected to "work in a professional manner. Interpreting the work to rule, not everything a professional does is spelled out in a contract," Morrill said Tuesday.

Some activities teachers have done regularly in the past. "Our expectation is for those activities to continue." When some are withheld, "the impact on students is damaging."

Doing only what the contract spells out creates a dilemma for teachers, including the many "who did go in early" Tuesday, Morrill said.

Labor contract disagreements "should be taken up at the negotiation table, not in other forms that do not serve our students well," Morrill added.

Wegmann said the no-more-than-the-contract-says tactic is done when unions and management fail to reach agreement.

Morrill said he hopes "some resolution will be struck soon. We're even sitting down at the table later this week."

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 's picture

Disgusting? How's that?

Disgusting? How's that? Because we provide evidence that others in the community work for similar money with far fewer benefits?

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Then you had the choice to

Then you had the choice to go work elsewhere. I have to deal with disrespectful people on a daily basis, just like teachers.

If they don't want to teach, then leave.

 's picture

Nice attempt at spin, but

Nice attempt at spin, but flawed at best.

Where does Auburn stand in the state of Maine? To assume Teachers are willing to move out of state is foolish.

What is the turnover rate? I haven't seen anything mentioned regarding the difficulty of applicants for teaching jobs - other than Math or Science. (I'd be willing to pay them more) I'd rather have young enthusiastic teachers than tainted veterans just hanging around for the money.

You neglect to respond to the substantially fewer days that teachers work in a year, and neglect to respond to workplace benefit packages in general. And let's not forget 27 half day Wednesdays to perform administrative tasks instead of instructional time.

In my humble opinion, they are fairly compensated. Taxpayers should no longer be responsible for spousal benefits.

 's picture

Yes, they are. And a "perk"

Yes, they are. And a "perk" at best. You over-rate experience. The worst teacher my daughter had, had over 20 years of experience. So stuck in the methods of the past it was ridiculous.

 's picture

Big Daddy - most of us

Big Daddy - most of us non-teachers work more than 8 hours a day as well. And we don't get July and August off. Your argument doesn't work anymore. It's time for teachers to stop their greedy charade.

RONALD RIML's picture

Then perhaps it's time to

Then perhaps it's time to put less emphasis on sports and more on education. Increase the school year by another thirty days.

When I was a young Sailor - I drank like a Sailor, fought like a Sailor, and screwed like a Sailor. Now that I am old and wise - I have a few scars, but many fond memories.

 's picture

Imagine having a job where

Imagine having a job where you come in early and stay late, all on your own time. Your pay raise, if you get one, is usually around 1%. You work weekends and holidays. Sick and vacation time is based on how much you work in a week, 40 hours gets you 1 hour of vacation time. There may or may not be someone to cover for you if an emergency pulls you away from work, and it "counts against you" on your evaluation. You have to deal with rude, degrading, and sometimes violent people with a smile and professionalism since anything less will "count against you" on your evaluation. Health insurance, if offered, is expensive since you make around $20,000 a year if you're lucky. Welcome to the service industry, which is the largest employing industry in Maine. Surprised?
Many of the families of these students work just as hard and don't have insurance options. Some may be facing losing their home and having to move. The teachers need to get over themselves. If they really did feel that teaching was their calling in life then what they receive in compensation would be sufficient since alternatives present significantly less.

 's picture

I bet you didn't get a

I bet you didn't get a masters degree to do that job... did you? Want teachers to get paid what the service industry gets paid, don't require a degree or credentials.

 's picture

I don't believe it. Prove

I don't believe it. Prove it. There are places like Ruth's that offer supplies cheap, and if its such a big issue, perhaps the local PTO could help out. I've offered to bring in supplies and were told they weren't needed.

 's picture

"Auburn School

"Auburn School Superintendent Thomas Morrill criticized the action as unprofessional..."

As you collect you $100,000 paycheck, the solution to your problem is simple...a contract for the teachers. No contract since August 2008? Over a year? While the teachers continue to do their jobs, someone else isn't or else there would be a contract. No contract for over a year? Who isn't doing their job?

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Not less then ten months

Not less then ten months there are new training procedures, meetings, psychological assessments to be learned, and the education can take months with the current log of newly developed curriculum charts. Robert most of the camps typically have a falling off point at times to work on a volunteer based pay scale. Many of the teachers are still grading, charting, and reviewing IEP's, IFSP's, and practical ground workings within the school department. With new students arriving and special needs department teachers review the IEP's and IFSP's to determine needs in the classroom, what is needed, and how to interact with students. If the Superintendents can get a 100k it might be time to ask them why several classrooms are strapped for cash and cannot afford something like The Carolina. Or, they never have enough paper, pens, pencils, and so on. Most teachers need more then just the $27,000 to live on something more like $55,000 I like Taylor Mali's poetry on it best.

Joe Ziehm
Lewiston ME

There are two kinds of Republicans in this world moderate and conservative for so long I've picked the moderate that now it is time to consider the path less traveled.

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Akuma they will not want to

Akuma they will not want to appear as vindictive as not disclosing that information. Several months ago a school Superintendent hired the famous Huffmaster strike breaking ring. A few of them were convicts appearing with weapons and in a militaristic fashion that is the corporate worlds stance when hiring and protecting replacement employees. They also do intimidate employees as well much of the corporate world dislikes bringing that to light. I don't mind being tough on them though for being corporate "minded" its just my luck to know how they operate; some even gain a commission for employees that they hire who do work out.

Joe Ziehm
Lewiston ME

There are two kinds of Republicans in this world moderate and conservative for so long I've picked the moderate that now it is time to consider the path less traveled.

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I am going to be an educator

I am going to be an educator when I hear corporate talk I'm aware of how much hiring recruiters do not disclose until it is to late and the employee is on the at will employment basis. Including not disclosing full insurance information to potential employees which is one reason: why I urge those in corporate worlds to have their employees to review fully insurance plans and push them not just to offer but also to fully disclose family benefits. Those who cite insurance as not being available in the corporate world stand to make more by not disclosing it. You must all think this is a crazy rant but in the corporate world there are lies, deceits, and treacheries. Important thing is to study it, see through it, and find out what portion of information is being disclosed and why other information is not disclosed at all.

Joe Ziehm
Lewiston ME

There are two kinds of Republicans in this world moderate and conservative for so long I've picked the moderate that now it is time to consider the path less traveled.

 's picture

The corporate world teachers

The corporate world teachers do not honestly have to understand the corporate world they are there to teach and inspire the new generation away from the standard factory setting which is imposed by those who endorse the corporate world image. They do deserve a new contract for what they are doing in the cities of Maine its not likely some of those in the corporate world would understand that. Whoever says in the corporate world that they never pay for insurance is lying. In the corporate world to keep employees they do pay for the insurance to keep those who are valued employees on the records.

Dave you can threaten all you want in retrospective agreement send your child to a charter school there are faith based and private schools in the area. If you agree with little to minimal socialization then I guess you really wanted home schooling to begin with. Put your money where you mouth is send them to a charter school. There's Open Door Bible Church, Hyde, Cape Elizabeth, Lisbon Falls Baptist, and the list goes on and on. Oh, yes the corporate world as Keith puts it needs to change Keith be a friend I know the corporate world a lot of them do supply partial care for families. Here's being fiscal for you Keith get your head out of your rear end. Most companies offer that upon hiring and ask of family members the corporate world eh friend? Unless your a hiring human resources director who does not offer that or disclose that to future employees is that somewhere close to it?

Joe Ziehm
Lewiston ME

There are two kinds of Republicans in this world moderate and conservative for so long I've picked the moderate that now it is time to consider the path less traveled.

 's picture

You misunderstood my point,

You misunderstood my point, Joe. I want charter schools funded by my tax dollars. I don't want to contribute to a MEA based system anymore. Frankly, I'd prefer to see high performing teachers highly compensated. Unfortunately, in the currrent system, that doesn't matter, just length of time. You are correct on one point. I haven't home schooled my kids because I was initially concerned about socialization. But I'm coming to conclusion that I can still accomplish this. (perhaps not quantity, but quality) Schools continually waste time making kids stand in line, disciplining unruly youth, and so on. And it appears that the focus of instruction (perhaps due to the foolish no child left behind act) is to bring lower performing students up to an "acceptable" standard. The average, and advanced students are pretty much left to themselves, although Auburn has a pretty decent gifted and talented program. Unfortunately, its quite abbreviated. There are home school groups that get together for activites either in person, or via the web. And homeschool students can opt to take various classes, and participate in extracurricular activities in the public school system.

I have no idea what you mean by "...inspire the new generation away from the standard factory setting which is imposed by those who endorse the corporate world image"? Huh? Sounds like you prefer a socialist system. You live in the wrong country. I'd prefer my child gain the knowledge to get a job or start her own business after graduation. You've really forgotten who you work for. It's us. The taxpayers.

 's picture

I know who I work for and

I know who I work for and its not you: its children. I prefer your child grow to understand Milton, the business economics of Shuttleworth, and the mindsets of creating a free and competitive environment. That your child learn to operate in cross platform operating system environments, learning the essentials of business as many are going toward Linux servers. If that is the answer you are looking for that's why I'm going to college to become a teacher. Shuttleworth would be the billionaire who created the Ubuntu Linux operating system which makes crossing the platforms in the business world much easier. NCLB was a mistake in its inception as a system and cut special education budgets dramatically not just in bringing to the foray "acceptable" test grades of course if those are the lower performing students you are pointing to then why did you not speak up to begin with? If you think I work outright for you, your wrong, children who work businesses deserve to know whats a lie, deserve to have every package on the table for employers, treat others honestly, and have the knowledge of Operating Systems which will give them an edge against their peers. Didn't you ever learn to have respect for the teachers who went the extra mile not for your parents or their acceptable lines but for you to push you? Did you ever have a coach who went that extra mile to push you?

The knowledge needed for business is to keep a server which is honest and OpenSuSe and the new server editions of Ubuntu that I've tested operate closely to Windows. As well they offer a free open source office suite and can run on nearly any platform from old 500 Mhz computers on up. I work for children I've worked for corporates and suits before in call centers. After learning that most companies used an old DOS processor which was single line user can understand why outside companies have opened up and had more secure services. No longer is Linux an intelligence ally the common people can use it. You tested me and now you know I will use every inch of my being to teach and I will use that to teach different communications, operating systems, poetic means, and literacy developments. All those old DOS processors can be replaced and reprogrammed with Linux to a fully functioning sales system. Running faster and less likely to have email servers lost out of the loop within the company. As per your realization of the factory and corporate image tests have gone down hill since standards were set; some do not even work at all (Gardner). I work for the child not someone who seeks a close minded approach call me what you will. Oh, if you look up the Linux and find that you like it there is an Ubuntu and OpenSuSe environment that is readily there for free download and it will save your company a few thousand dollars as it can be installed by anyone. Look it up and punch it up.

Joe Ziehm
Lewiston ME

There are two kinds of Republicans in this world moderate and conservative for so long I've picked the moderate that now it is time to consider the path less traveled.

 's picture

Joe - We are in agreement

Joe - We are in agreement regarding open-source software. I am a former IT'er and worked extensively with open source software. Linux servers are efficient and cost-effective. I'm in the process of setting up my home pc (and my kids) entirely open source. (yes, Ubunto) You're not alone. By the way, Mr. Shuttleworth made his millions on Thawte software (a proprietary, pay for licensing software, not open-source software). He has, however, been most generous in funding the free software movement. (no profit, yet)

I think you lost me with the rest of your post.

 's picture

That's alright the rest of

That's alright the rest of the post was what we go through and its stressful when we cannot afford the new assessment and test measures because either towns deny it or we're trying to retain Super Superintendents who are all but useless and merely number crunchers. I like using Gentoo, SuSe, Ubuntu, Xubuntu for my old iMac 500 and just wish schools would adopt that. Same here with the IT stuff did sales but with my certs enjoy working with computers and seeing what works and what doesn't. The rest of it was prepping kids for the real world if someone throws a reference to John Milton Paradise Lost they catch it or the old poets and writers of old. Someday want to get one of the Mini 10v's with Ubuntu 8.04 love the way it looks and runs.

Joseph Ziehm
Lewiston, ME
"Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a master in heaven. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;" Colossians 4: 1-2

 's picture

It is apparent that teachers

It is apparent that teachers don't understand the "corporate" world. The seven hour day isn't the norm. Try about 9 or 10. Apparently they think we all make millions and have all our benefits fully funded. I work for a major corporate entity, and have to pay 20% of my insurance premiums. If premiums go up, I pay. (and boy have they!) After deducting vacation time, weekends, and holidays, I work 230 days a year plus night meetings fairly frequently (non-compensated), plus unpaid overtime (many times without notice) when necessary depending upon the requirements of the business. I am expected to maintain professional certifications on my own time, and mostly my own dollar. My performance is reviewed annually. If I meet my objectives, I'm rewarded with an increase. If not, no increase. No guaranteed raise. In fact, I haven't got a raise in the last few years, despite exceeding my objectives. No profits, no raise. Teachers don't have to deal with this. Just show up, and *bingo*, a raise every year, and even a seniority boost for longevity. (regardless of job performance)

I'm not complaining. In fact, compared to other places, I've got it good. But the Auburn teachers shouldn't complain either. Let's see, they work 180 days. (27% fewer than most of us) Have 15? sick days, which I believe accumulate if not used and added to the next year. So please spare me the 'woe is me', and 'I work harder than you' lines. You're not the only ones working hard. You're not the only one who works at home after hours. It's called being a professional. There were no secrets about teaching jobs when you entered the profession. The expectation is that you grade tests, prepare lesson plans, etc. AFTER school hours. Always has been.

If you think you're making a statement with your 'work to rule', you are correct. And that is, you only care about the money. Don't expect this action to cause a swell of support. In case you missed it, people are hurting, and can't afford new taxes. See the other story in the paper today about the state decreasing its contribution to local schools. We certainly can't afford to pay 100% of your medical benefits anymore.

Cranky Yankee, I do volunteer in the schools. I appreciate the teachers. My kids have had (mostly) good ones. I just don't think their expectation of free medical benefits is reasonable, or affordable. I'd become a teacher in a nano-second if MEA certification policies and seniority schedules didn't make it so difficult for a middle-aged person to enter the profession.

I truly wish our local Representatives to the Maine House and Senate would come to their senses and support Charter schools in Maine. Our current system is broken. I believe Bruce Bickford was the only one who did last session. (thank you)

A little competition might help. In the meantime, I guess its time I homeschool my kids.

 's picture

I work in human resources in

I work in human resources in the corporate world and I can tell you that a major shift has been occurring with regards to family health care. More and more companies are providing 100% of the premiums for employees and zero for family coverage. This is the "real world" situation. The teachers need to wake up to the fiscal realities. If they don't like the pay and the benefits, then it's time to change employers or careers.

 's picture

I feel bad for the students.

I feel bad for the students. They are the ones that will be affected the most. What great examples you are for our children. *sarcasm*

 's picture

1. Superintendent Salary Mr.

1. Superintendent Salary
Mr. Das, Chair, recommended the annual salary for the position of Superintendent for the 2009-10 school year. He noted that Mr. Morrill is in the third year of a three- year contract and recommended a 2.1% salary adjustment to $105,163.
It was moved by Mr. Pelletier, seconded by Mr. Bussiere and voted unanimously to approve the recommended annual salary for the position of Superintendent for the 2009-10 school year.

I think everybody needs to be aware that the superintendent got his raise this year. This information can be seen on the school committee minutes.


If teachers think they are

If teachers think they are underpaid they should go out and look for other work. If they are correct in their assesment of their worth they will be happier elsewhere. The powers that be have a right to say what they feel the jobs they have to offer are worth. If they are wrong then they will not have any teachers. It may be messy for a few months, but at some point things will straighten out. Unions are ruining this country with their demands. Look at our industries---where are the textile mills, shoe shops, paper mills, etc. The car manufacturers that are successful in this country are the foreign car manufacturers who operate without unions.


First of all the cities ask

First of all the cities ask more of the teachers than is required, if it was a bussiness THE STATE would slap them with millions in fines and restitutions for hours worked without pay, however since one hand washes the other that wont happen, Secondly you can bet your bippy the higher echolon is getting thier raises on time!!! (overpayed pencil pushers) Secondly the teachers have a Rude Awakening We THE TAXPAYERS WILL NOT STAND BY AND CONTINUE TO PAY FOR HEALTH INSURANCE FOR MEMBERS OF THIER FAMILY THAT IS BEYOND THE AFFORDABILITY OF THE TAXPAYER THEMSELVES!!! If we need to cause a ref. on this then so be it BUT YOU WILL LOSE!!! Cap all jobs in the city to no more than 60 thousand which is a lucritive salery with insurance for themselves only and take the savings and distribute that to the teachers and Remove this extravagant benefit and if they dont like it lay them off!!!! Oh by the way the deputy city admin has been taking over for the city admin and have you noticed the SKY DID NOT FALL, THE CITY DID NOT CEASE TO EXIST, NOT A HICCUP! So either get rid of the deputy admins position or the admins permenanlty this savings can also go to help the teachers pay for thier insuance like the rest of us!!!!!


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