The Nashua School District and the city’s teachers union have agreed to more than $11 million in pay raises for teachers over the next four years, but contract negotiators can’t agree on whether the union president should be eligible for health insurance through the district, even if the costs are funded by the union.
Contract negotiations between the school board and the union stalled last month. The two sides agreed to bring in a mediator this week, but announced their impasse Thursday.
Teachers have spoken during school board meetings about the stress they have been under this year, with many saying they were thinking about retiring early or leaving the district, ratcheting up pressure on the board.
Both sides approved pay raises for teachers that will total $11.1 million over four years, with newer teachers seeing the steepest increases. The raises would bring Nashua teachers’ pay more in line with pay for teachers in surrounding towns and across the border in Massachusetts.
The sticking point is a comparatively small one — the union president’s eligibility for health insurance and a state pension. The union president, whom teachers elect every two years, is a Nashua teacher who takes a two-year approved leave. For more than a decade, the president has stayed on the school district’s health insurance plan and remained eligible for a state pension, with the union reimbursing the school and the city for their contributions. The current plan does not cost city taxpayers.
In a statement, the school board said they wanted the union to directly provide benefits for the president, instead of reimbursing the district.
The union, in a statement, said they thought the board’s stance was an effort to interfere with and weaken the union, by making it difficult for a teacher to serve more than one term as president.