Friend and Supporters...I am Sandie Blankenship, the former president of the North Kingstown Educational Support Professionals Association.
Over a thousand of you have signed our petition. Regrettably our voices - your voices - are ignored by the five members of the North Kingstown School Committee who have opted to sign the contract with GCA Services and place 26 families on the short road to poverty.
The decision to fire the 26 janitors - some of whom were in their second and third decades working for the school system - was wrong. Wrong for North Kingstown schools, wrong for North Kingstown students, and wrong for North Kingstown workers: They fired 26 janitors – men and women who have provided long-term undisputed good service to the district – and have turned those jobs and tax dollars over to a company 1,000 miles away.
As I said previously, while we often hear that it is about the money, the fact is, in this instance, it’s not so.
My co-workers and I made $1.3 million in concessions to the district. And when the committee sought an additional $400,000, we all pitched in, took a big hit, and came up with the money the committee sought.
So if it is not about money, what is it about? It is about power and the capacity of the powerful to limit workers from having any say about their working conditions. It’s about silencing our voices.
But we will not be silenced.
GCA has slashed wages, cut benefits, and eliminated pensions. Our members have taken nearly a 30 percent reduction in their annual income and the toll is already being felt.
We also have serious concerns about the company the five committee members (Chairwoman Page, and Committee members Welch, Avazanto, Ceresi, and Boscardin) has hired: GCA Services.
Their record troubles us. Independent news services – found with a quick Google search - have documented the serious problems with GCA, including hiring and placing a registered sex offender in a Texas middle school despite GCA’s screening efforts.
GCA Services profits not only by cutting wages and cutting benefits, but by cutting corners, too.
North Kingstown’s children deserve better. North Kingstown school workers do too.
The committee has a chance to reconsider their ill-advised vote. The contract provides for a 90-day opt out.
Please contact the Committee members and tell them it is time to opt out.