Delay in Haverhill Contract Vote Angers Teachers as Union, School Committee Differ Over Raises

Members of the Haverhill Education Association teachers' union expected to vote on a three-year contract on Sept. 26, 2019. (Courtesy photograph.)

Dozens of angry Haverhill Public Schools teachers packed City Hall’s Council Chambers last Thursday night after a vote on a proposed three-year contract was delayed over a difference in how to interpret specifics surrounding longevity pay.

Haverhill Education Association teachers’ union President Anthony Parolisi, a Consentino eighth-grade teacher, was joined by members who said they were “disappointed” they had to go back to the bargaining table after reaching an “agreement in principle” with the school’s subcommittee Sept. 11.

“What they are asking for shouldn’t take any more time. Over the last two weeks since we came to an agreement in principle, we’ve spent a lot of time and energy working toward this and they’re here to ask that we not waste any more time,” Parolisi said.

At issue, said City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr., is a difference of opinion on how to interpret cost estimates. The city attorney said he became aware of the discrepancy on Sept. 25—the eve of the vote—and is currently “researching ways to come to an agreement.”

“The union was looking at some language and applying it one way, and the district was applying it differently in terms of reaching our cost estimates for the contracts,” Cox said. “As I indicated, we’re going to work as quickly as possible to resolve this because that’s the feeling on both sides.”

Cox was quick to assure both the teachers and the School Committee that the issue did not have to do with a change in salary, but rather the “application” of salary schedules for a select number of educators.

At Thursday night’s meeting, several teachers—new and veteran alike—voiced concerns over failing to make a “living wage.” Others, like Hunking math teacher Timothy Brace, reasoned that the city’s MCAS scores are improving, so teachers’ compensation should be, too.

School Committee members Maura Ryan-Ciardello and Gail M. Sullivan backed the nearly 100 educators in attendance, with Sullivan telling the group she heard their “anger and hurt.”

“I know how much time you put into your jobs,” Ryan-Ciardiello said. “I support you 100 percent.

Haverhill’s teachers have been working without a contract since July 1. The city’s negotiating team is comprised of School Committee members Richard J. Rosa, Sven A. Amirian and Paul A. Magliocchetti. Haverhill Education Association is represented by Massachusetts Teachers Association Field Representative Charmaine Champagne.

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