Haverhill School Custodians Ratify Three-Year Contract

Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 888, Haverhill Chapter Chair President Fred A. Simmons.

Haverhill school custodians have reached agreement on a new three-year contract, receiving no pay raises for last fiscal year, 1 percent pay increases this year and 1.75 percent next year.

The city’s 35 custodians will also receive $100 each. Members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 888, ratified the agreement last week, but it is still subject to approval by the Haverhill School Committee Aug. 20.

“I’m still saddened that it is not a living wage. We keep getting 0 percent to start our contracts and there’s no money for our group when the administration has no problems getting what they want,” said Haverhill Chapter Chair President Fred A. Simmons.

Simmons, who is also a candidate for Haverhill City Council, said union members voted 17 to 14 to accept the contract. The total number of custodians serving the schools is now less than half the number working in 2000. He explained there were 77 custodians in 2000, but shifts have been eliminated and many vacancies have gone unfilled. As late as last year, there were 44 custodians.

“We lost more than 50 percent of our manpower,” Simmons said.

School Committee President Scott W. Wood Jr.

School Committee President Scott W. Wood Jr.

School Committee President Scott W. Wood Jr. said Sunday night, it is not the number of custodians that matters, but rather how they are deployed.

“It’s about putting the right people in the right positions,” Wood said. “Our schools are cleaner than ever. I haven’t received a complaint in years about them.”

The 35 custodians—some part-time—are spread between Haverhill High School; middle schools, Consentino, Hunking, Nettle and John Greenleaf Whittier; elementary schools, Bradford, Golden Hill, Greenleaf, Pentucket Lake, Silver Hill, Tilton and Walnut Square; preschool and kindergarten, Bartlett, Crowell and Moody; Haverhill Alternative School (St. James); Burnham registration center; and Central Supply, Brown Street.

Since 2000, Wood responded, the city has closed Fox, Knipe, Smiley and Wood Schools and turned Burnham into offices. “The economic downturn hurt all groups. Every employee is doing more with less.”

“We’re replacing Hunking School because of maintenance problems. Now, despite pledges to the contrary, we’re about to open a new school with even fewer maintenance people,” Simmons said.

4 thoughts on “Haverhill School Custodians Ratify Three-Year Contract

  1. I firmly believe the school department employees, teachers, aids, administration, cafeteria workers, custodians as well as all levels of administration , basically all school department employees, should be paid a fair wage and most if not all are not receiving what they should and could be paid. We have a great group of employees lead by Jim Scully and are very fortunate to have them all. Members of the school committee receive their benefits and should be willing to pass along responsible pay and benefits to our employees.

    Perhaps the members of the school committee would be willing to give up their benefits in order to reduce a small percentage of the budget thus making more available to those who perform the best – our school employees. Custodians, teachers, aids administrators all have families to support etc. just like the rest of us. Lets do the right thing and pay them what they deserve. I propose this based upon my experience as former chairperson for fourteen years of Essex Agricultural and Technical High School. All employees were well paid, were a happy family, and our students excelled. Joe Edwards

  2. Scott Wood needs to keep his oversized piehole closed until he has actually spend a year or more as a school custodian cleaning up after sick children, scraping mud and rock salt off floors and mopping up after lunch and generally getting blamed for the condition of the schools with no staff or budget.