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Receiver takes over Central Falls teacher negotiations

August 30, 2011

The Central Falls school department no longer has the power to negotiate with its teachers’ union. The receiver in charge of the Central Falls bankruptcy is taking over talks with teachers, after school officials tried to impose contract terms last week.

In an order released Friday, Receiver Robert Flanders, Jr. says he or a designee will assume responsibility for negotiating a collective bargaining contract with city teachers.

“The restoration of fiscal solvency and stability makes it necessary that the City of Central Falls speak with one voice,” the order reads. “The Central Falls School Department and its employees are not authorized to engage counsel or to utilize previously engaged counsel for any matter except by written permission of the Receiver.”

Flanders has also revoked the contract terms imposed by school officials.

“Compensation and benefits shall remain at the same levels as were being paid as of June 30, 2011 pending further order of the Receiver,” Flanders writes in the order.

Central Falls school officials claimed they had reached an impasse with city teachers, which forced them to impose their “last, best offer” of a contract effective September 1st. Teachers’ Union leaders have accused the district of using the city’s economic distress as a pretext for imposing changes in work rules.

Teachers in Central Falls may have breathed a collective sigh of relief when they learned that the contract, which included a performance-based pay structure, would not take effect. However, they may find that Receiver Flanders drives a hard bargain. This week he is slashing pension checks for police and firefighters, who rejected a settlement offer previously on the table.

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