Q&A: RBEA President Dave Monti
Q: What is your role with the Teachers’ Union?
A: “I am the current President of the RBEA (Riverside Brookfield Education Association).”
Q: How long have you held this position?
A: “It is a three year term. In your first year, you are the Vice President and assist the President with many decisions and participate in monthly meetings with the Administration. In the second year, you are the President and lead the decision making process. In the third year, you are the Past-President and are a voting member of the RBEA Executive Board. This is the third time in my 20 years at RB that I have been President.”
Q: How does the union respond when students and community members claim that teachers should take a pay cut or stop taking raises?
A: “I personally have not heard any of these claims. I have heard that a few community members were upset that the administration received raises after the cuts that were made this summer. We are in the fourth year of a five year contract which has small, yearly raises. In the last five years, the teaching staff has been reduced from 110 teachers to 95, which has greatly increased class size and teachers’ workload. There have also been reductions in support staff, both in the classroom and the library, which have impacted both staff and students. Besides classroom staff cuts, the Board of Education eliminated 77 paid extra-curricular positions this past July. Twenty-seven of them were paid athletic positions, such as assistant coaches, assistant athletic directors, and seasonal athletic trainers, and fifty were paid co-curricular activity positions, such as club sponsors, theatre program, wellness room supervisors, and ticket managers. Almost all of these positions were held by union members. So, not only have they had their classroom responsibilities and workload increase in the last five years, they’ve also lost part of their salaries due to the extra-curricular cuts. Teachers also pay over 10% of their salary to their own retirement, as we are not eligible for Social Security.”
Q: Has the school board asked you about this issue?
A: “This Fall, the School Board designated a team of three Board members that meet on a monthly basis with four RBEA officers and Superintendent Dr. Skinkis. We have talked about the current financial situation and what the District’s future financial situation looks like.”
Q: Are the school administrators a part of the Teachers’ Union?
A: “No, administrators are not part of the RBEA. They each have their own contract which they negotiate themselves.”
Q: What does the union contract say about teachers volunteering to sponsor clubs?
A: “The Board of Education and the RBEA have a memorandum of understanding stating that teachers cannot volunteer to sponsor a club or be a coach if the position was eliminated due to budget cuts. Volunteering for a position that once was paid is a violation of the contract and would result in an Unfair Labor Practice which could cost the District thousands of dollars for a violation.”
Q: Do you agree with the union on these issues?
A: “Absolutely. Unions were created to protect workers from violations of both their legal rights and negotiated contracts. If not, an employer could change the contract unilaterally and workers could lose wages, insurance, benefits, or their jobs.”
Q: Do you think other teachers agree with the union?
A: “Yes, the contract must be protected and enforced at all times.”
Q: Other than wage concessions, is there anything else the union can do to help alleviate the school’s financial issues?
A: “Not really. The District can continue to reduce staff which increases class size which educationally is not a good practice. The District can also cut programs and electives, which will reduce staff and saves the District money, but reduces opportunities for students.”