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AFL-CIO Backs R.I. Teachers; Union Files Labor Complaint

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AFT President Randi Weingarten continues to call in the big guns on this Central Falls, R.I. school-turnaround drama. Now the AFL-CIO, the labor association that AFT (but not the National Education Association) belongs to, has put out this statement in support of the teachers.

The local teachers' union, meanwhile, has filed an unfair labor-relations complaint with the state labor-relations board, saying that Central Falls Superintendent Frances Gallo didn't bargain in good faith with the union, The Associated Press reports.

AP also says that the union claims that the teachers haven't been proven incompetent or accused of malfeasance. Usually state laws and bargaining contracts determine layoff policies. I'm no lawyer, so I can't tell whether the terms of the school-improvement grant program can legally overrule those policies. Any federal-education legal scholars care to weigh in?

On another note, Washington Post scribe Jay Mathews sides with Weingarten, saying that teachers should be permitted to reapply for their jobs. But unless I'm missing something, that's allowable under the school-improvement rules. The federal criteria merely prohibit hiring back more than half of the teachers.

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