Haverhill Teachers’ Union Disputes School Committee Statements, Says Issues Not Just About Money

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.)

The Haverhill teachers’ union, responding to the School Committee’s characterization of the state of current negotiations, said Thursday sticking points go beyond money and involve racial justice, health and safety and other working conditions.

Haverhill Education Association President Tim Briggs told WHAV late Thursday afternoon the union strongly disputes the claim teachers received a 10% increase three years ago. He said the city is counting step raises for education and longevity rather than the accepted 1.75% first year; 1.75% second year and 2% during the third year of the contract.

“That’s not a raise. That’s not a cost-of-living raise. Quite honestly, the reason most of us move up those steps is for education that we pay for,” Briggs said. This time around, he said, the union initially proposed raises over three years of 10%, 6% and 6%, dropping the request to 8, 6 and 5% respectively and now down to 7, 6 and 5%. He said the city’s offer has increased from 1.5% for each of the three years to 3, 2 and 2%.

Briggs said the city’s statements over the last few days were crafted by a paid Boston public relations firm.

School Committee member Richard Rosa, who helped negotiate the contract three years ago, said no matter what they are called, step and longevity increases still represent a cost to the city. Rosa is not one of the negotiators this year.

In a separate statement, teachers said they have been “working without a contract for more than 100 days. After several rounds of bargaining with the School Committee, we have reached not a single tentative agreement.”

“Our students deserve and need a more diverse teaching force. They deserve and need to be in suitable learning environments. They deserve and need educators who have time to prepare, plan and collaborate with colleagues,” the union said. These improvements, they added, will have a “direct impact on the quality of education we can provide students.”

The statement came as state labor officials brought together city negotiators and union leadership. The outcome of those talks was not known at news deadline.

Further, the union statement read, they seek to “attract the best possible educators for our district,” win approval of proposals that also address the health and safety conditions of our school buildings.

“The School Committee has not even engaged in talks around these issues that are crucial in our view,” according to the statement.

City negotiators, represented by School Committee members Scott W. Wood Jr., chairman, and Paul A. Magliocchetti, in a release Wednesday, said the union’s revised salary increase offer “continues to be in no way affordable for the City of Haverhill and its residents.”

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