Haverhill Teachers and School Committee Start Negotiations Far Apart; Talks Began in Public

Educators, parents and supporters from across the region joined the Haverhill Education Association for a rally at City Hall on June 11, 2019. (Courtesy photograph.)

Haverhill teachers and the School Committee return to the bargaining table next week after starting negotiations in public earlier this month.

Haverhill Education Association President Tim Briggs said public talks are an emerging trend.

“Teachers’ unions are pushing for this. We would like it to be very transparent, public, of what goes on in public education,” he said.

School Committee lead negotiator Scott W. Wood Jr. agreed, saying the union previously brought as many as 40 or 50 people anyway. “So, we said if you want to bring that many people, then let’s do it in public. Let the residents and taxpayers see everything that’s going on,” he said.

The two sides appear far apart with the union saying it wants to make up for seven years that teachers received no raises when the city was in financial dire straits. They’re asking for a 10% raise during the first year of a new contract followed by 6% each of the following two years. The city’s team, comprised of Wood and School Committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti, responded with an offer of 1.75% the first year, followed by 1.75% next year and 2% the third year. Briggs spelled out the union’s starting stance.

“Is 10, 6, 6 what we need to work? No, but it would make some interesting corrections to the seven zeros and the 8% inflation and our members who have to work other jobs, Briggs said.

Besides pay raises, Wood said, teachers have a list of other demands. “If you look at their total ask over the three years, would be a $68 million increase in our budget.”

Briggs doesn’t necessarily disagree, but said the resulting total is misleading though because teachers are not asking to be paid for certain hours. “Our teachers do not work cafeteria lunch. If they do though, the old offer is $15. Give up your lunch for $15?” He asked.

Briggs added there is potential for the schools to “strong arm” younger teachers into working lunch because they have not yet achieved professional teacher status—job protection that starts after three years.

The current teachers’ contract expires at the end of the month. Talks continue Wednesday, June 29, at 4:30 p.m., at Haverhill High School.

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