The recent request for a mediator to resolve contract negotiations between the Haverhill and educational support professionals brought condemnation last night of those who would bring a School Committee member’s disabled son into the fray.
As WHAV reported first, School Committee negotiators sent the request to the state Department of Labor Relations once it appeared the two sides had reached an impasse in negotiations.
Haverhill Education Association President Barry Davis accused School Committee negotiators Richard J. Rosa and Gail M. Sullivan of not bringing that decision to the entire School Committee beforehand. He also charged them with having a personal agenda to beat the union. Davis continued to express his dissatisfaction with the decision at last night’s meeting.
“I know you can make the argument that mediation isn’t a bad thing, but after the teacher’s strike last year, the hired lawyer by this committee, David Connelly gave a presentation on how to beat teachers unions. How can we trust mediation with this Department of Labor Relations with your lawyer on the other side?” He asked.
Following his arguments, committee member Rosa disputed those claims, noting many other local teacher negotiations have been settled through mediation.
“I know that there’s a lot of negativity around this mediation. I’m not sure why, but research shows that mediation works. In fact, the Haverhill teacher’s strike was settled last year with the help of a mediator. The Andover teacher’s strike, this week, was settled with the help of a mediator and last week, North Andover averted a strike with the help of a mediator,” he noted.
Rosa went on to chastise Davis for spreading false information regarding negotiations which he said has affected him and his family on a personal level.
“Yesterday I got an email from someone that said they were appalled with me because I leave my child with an ESP every day and I’m not doing what you want me to do. I hope that each and every one of you in this room is outraged that my disabled child would be dragged into this because they were fed misinformation. It’s outrageous,” he said.
Rosa went on to reiterate, as he had earlier on WHAV, that contrary to misinformation, every School Committee member voted Oct. 10 to initiate the request for mediation. Clearly frustrated, Rosa even offered to give up his role as a negotiator if Committee Vice Chair Maura L. Ryan-Ciardiello believes other members could do a better job. Ryan-Ciardiello, who attempted to sign in remotely, was mostly inaudible.
Mayor James J. Fiorentini responded saying he, along with all members of the School Committee believe ESPs are underpaid for their work, but he had faith that the process of mediation will bring about a fair arrangement for all parties.
Member Paul A. Magliocchetti bristled at comparisons being drawn by the union between Haverhill wages and those paid in wealthy communities like Andover. He said that while Haverhill gets more state education aid from the state, uber-rich communities like Andover can more easily tap their tax bases. He called for the legislators to fix the problem.