Manchester teacher contract talks hit impasse
The Manchester Education Association and the school board’s negotiations subcommittee have declared that they are at an official impasse over the new contract.
The agreement will double to triple the premium rates and co-pays in the employees’ health insurance plans, and it would tie raises to the rise in the Consumer Price Index, rather than existing cost-of-living and step formulas.
Ward 10 board member John Avard, the chair of the negotiations committee, said similar offers were extended to the other bargaining units.
“The district was already earmarking the savings (from any health care concessions), and that precluded us from the type of return items that other groups are getting,” he said.
“I think the priority is not to triple what we pay health care overnight, to get there in a more realistic time frame, rather than right at July 1,” Dick said, adding, “It’s not a question of getting to the destination; it’s a question of how long we take to get there.”
“Both sides have agreed to leave their offers out,” he said. “It will be up to the board whether to pursue other action, tweak the offer, or go with what’s there.”
There are 307 paraprofessionals in the district who assist teachers in classroom and help special education students. A likely incentive for the employees was job security. In recent years, budget pressures have led the district and the school board to consider mass layoffs for the paraprofessionals.
“I’m sure the board is going to be asking a lot of questions,” he said.
Gatsas called the health care concessions “a good point” in the contracts, but he questioned the wisdom of pegging raises to the CPI. “What happens if it goes to 7 percent?” he asked.
In the past, the mayor has negotiated directly with the district employee unions, but this year the school board designated its own committee and hired legal counsel to conduct the negotiations.
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