By Kyle Olson
MATTAPOISETT, Mass. – Students and teachers from Old Rochester Regional Junior High School have teamed up for many years to serve a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to senior citizens in the school cafeteria.
But this year the teachers thought it would be an opportune time to bring their complaints about a lack of a collective bargaining agreement to the community. How? By refusing to participate in the traditional Thanksgiving event.
That’s right, as a way to protest their lack of a contract, the teachers bailed on the students and senior citizens. But the students and a group of volunteers kept the tradition alive on their own.
As WickedLocal.com reported: “Despite not having their teachers to back them up, the eighth-graders at Old Rochester Regional Junior High School offered up their 23rd annual community Thanksgiving dinner Sunday,Nov. 18, in the school cafeteria for senior citizens in the Tri-towns.
“ORR Junior High Principal Kevin Brogioli debated whether he and the eighth-graders would be able to put on the community feast without the help of ORR teachers, who decided not to assist this year as a protest for being forced to work without a contract for two years.
“The snub caused some outrage and criticism from the community, who felt the students and the senior citizens were being unfairly penalized for the school district’s failure to offer the teachers union a workable contract.”
Perhaps their outrage should be directed at the union for failing to agree to a contract that the school district can afford.
This sort of childish protest by teachers unions happens all too often. Typically known as “working to contract,” a union requires its members – who apparently don’t have brains of their own – to limit their work activities to those specified in the expired collective bargaining agreement.
It’s a cheap way of scoring points against the school board and pressuring the community to side with the teachers.
But such a petty stunt could leave a bad taste in the mouths of some, particularly parents and students who have been solely focused on serving senior citizens a holiday meal, regardless of anything else going on in their lives.
We suppose the union teachers just aren’t capable of that type of unselfishness. But as it turned out, the kids didn’t need their help, anyway.
“We had more than 75 kids help, including some from the high school, and we had quite a few volunteers from the community step in so everything worked out great,” Brogioli was quoted as saying. “The kids were fantastic and quite a few of their parents helped, as well.”
He said when word got out that the event was understaffed, “the outpouring from the community was tremendous.”
Perhaps the union should rethink its petty protest strategy. Its members would look much better if they continued to focus on serving the community despite their grievances with the school board.