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Nashua board, union negotiators take stock after teachers' pact rejected

Union Leader Correspondent

September 26. 2017 1:52PM

NASHUA — The school district entered uncharted territory Monday when the Nashua Teachers' Union rejected a tentative bargaining agreement with school officials – believed to be the first time a tentative contract was rejected by city educators.

"I think the membership made a decision for the greater good of the membership, as opposed to individuals," Adam Marcoux, president of the NTU, said Tuesday, following the union's 357-269 vote to reject the agreement.

Details of the four-year proposal were not released.

Negotiators for the union and the Board of Education will need to return to the bargaining table. "I think that both sides have to take a little time to step back and reflect on where they have been and decide how to move forward," said George Farrington, president of the Board of Education. "I hope that we can reach an agreement."

Farrington said he is hopeful the two groups will soon be able to get together at the negotiating table, although he said he is still in a reflective stage.

The contract for paraprofessionals terminated in June and the union contract for city teachers expired at the end of August, affecting about 1,400 educators.

Negotiations began in January, followed by a month of mediation and the declaration of an impasse in May. Union officials thought a deal was near in mid-June, but an agreement wasn't reached.

Negotiations resumed earlier this month and a tentative agreement was presented to union members Monday but was rejected.

Meanwhile, union members have been asked to discontinue membership on all district committees and school committees that are not contractually obligated until a new contract is approved.

Marcoux said he supports union members' decision and will put his negotiating team back together to discuss how to proceed.

"My job is to represent them and that is where we are," he said, adding no date has been set to resume talks.

The Board of Education voted Monday to accept the tentative contract in a non-binding vote pending the union vote.

Some union members questioned why the school board voted in favor of the agreement after the NTU rejected it.

"It is their prerogative to conduct business as a board," Marcoux said.

Although a mediator has been used, Farrington said the mediator was unable to continue working with the two groups for personal reasons.

"That is something that will have to perhaps be considered when we talk again."

Farrington acknowledged it might be challenging to bring in a new mediator and said the previous mediator knew the school district's history and was useful.

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