The Bristol Press ran an editorial on Thursday, January 19 attacking the recently approved BFT contract. You can read it here.
BFT President David Hayes wrote a response, which was published in the Bristol Press Sunday, January 22.
The recent editorial in the Bristol Press condemning binding arbitration and urging lawmakers to change the laws which govern it was both short on facts as well as history. Arbitrators are charged with following seven criteria when rendering a decision, chief among those is considering the “financial capability of the town or towns in the school district” This was a glaring oversight of a basic fact on the part of the Bristol Press. Binding arbitration is used in Connecticut to resolve contract disputes and avoids the uglier alternative – labor strikes, which are disruptive and damaging to the parties involved.
Regarding the recently approved teacher contract, which was the target of the editor’s venom, the contract in question is the product of a positive and collaborative process conducted by the Board of Education and the Bristol Federation of Teachers. No one gets into teaching to get rich, but they do want a fair wage and rely on organized labor to help achieve that. As your paper has pointed out recently, Bristol is in a fortunate position due to the planning and foresight of city leaders over the last few decades which have left robust pension and rainy days funds. The workload of teachers isn’t dependent upon the vagary of the global marketplace. Sales and production may be down in the private sector, but class sizes are full, and students with social and behavioral problems are rampant. Despite this, we are one of the top urban districts in the state. Bristol teachers deserve the modest gains contained in the contract, and the city can afford it.
Bristol Federation of Teachers