At this point, we assume that the Manchester Education Association is just playing with the city, like the French knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Feeling safely ensconced in its impenetrable castle, the union continues to taunt the city for fun.
Last week the school board committee appointed to negotiate a new contract gave up after months of failed negotiations. The union had rejected a contract similar to ones accepted by school paraprofessionals, principals, and every other city union.
The city’s proposed contract guaranteed raises, capped only by the city tax cap, every year for the life of the contract. Like the other union agreements, employees would have to contribute more toward their health premiums. But nowhere near what is paid in the private sector. The city would pay from between 80 and 95 percent, depending on the health plan chosen. The highest a teacher would have to pay is 20 percent. The national average for the private sector is 28 percent.
A frustrated school board voted unanimously last week to name Mayor Ted Gatsas as the chief negotiator with the unions. Considering how many school board members regularly clash with Gatsas, that was an important vote. It said to the union that even its allies on the board are so fed up with its intransigence that they are willing to let Gatsas get the credit if he can work a deal. Taxpayers should hope that he does. This absurdity has dragged on too long.