Haverhill Education Association President Joseph Cunha.
The union representing Haverhill teachers, clerical unit and education support personnel, asked the Haverhill School Committee Thursday night to complete contract negotiations before the end of the current school year.
Tim Briggs, a sixth grade teacher, parent and resident, presented the petition of more than 500 names while dozens of union members filled the chambers. He emphasized the union leadership and Haverhill Education Association (HEA) members are “one and the same,” explaining the school department’s “Alert Now” messages to parents and some news organizations have implied otherwise. He presented the petition to school committee members and read the petition aloud.
“Settling a new contract before the end of this school year is important to all of us. Work with the HEA bargaining team and settle a fair contract now,” said Briggs.
HEA President Joseph Cunha explained to WHAV why the union decided to act now.
“Over the course of this year the negotiations have really not progressed. We go and we have meetings, but really nothing has come out of them,” he said.
The current contract expired last June 30. Besides teachers, Cunha said, the school department must begin talking to clerical unit and education support personnel.
“The ESPs and clerical units, they should have been bargaining right along with us since last year, but it’s as if they are dragging their feet. They still have yet to meet once with those people.”
“We’re hoping the school committee gets the message that all of their employees are fed up with them dragging their feet and stonewalling and that they work to give us a fair contract now.”
Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini excused himself from the room because his son is an HEA member. There was no reaction to the petition from either school committee members or the school administration.