Teachers and staff, trustees agree to new contract

Kendra Brown, Senior Reporter

Teachers and staff agreed on a new contract with the school’s board of trustees October 12 after more than a year of negotiation.

“Employees in this school have been working without an agreed upon collective bargaining agreement since July 1, 2014,” school business administrator Nick Puzo said.

As a result, teachers and staff have been receiving the same salaries since June 30, 2014.

“Increases can only be paid retroactively after a new CBA is signed,”  Puzo said.

According to physical education teacher Nicholas Morris, who also serves as president of the local American Federation of Teachers union affiliate that represents the teachers and staff, the situation was held up due to a disagreement on how to go forward with health benefits.

Morris became the union president at the end of the last school year, when former chemistry teacher Thomas Frech stepped down and later retired. Frech was president during the first year of negotiations.

The contract was voted on by the union members October 12. An “overwhelming majority” voted in favor of the contract, according to Morris.

“We agreed to the terms of the contract without signing it,” Morris said. “The contract was not fully written, but we agreed to it anyway so we can come to a conclusion.”

Math teacher Pinkus Pavlotskiy said he is “happy the school has finally came to a conclusion.”

“This is good for all the teachers who does hard work and the contract helps them in this case,” Pavlotskiy said.

Puzo said the negotiating process was too slow.

“I just wish that somehow we could move things along faster because budgeting is difficult when the school’s two biggest expenses, namely salaries and health care benefit costs, are unknown quantities because a current CBA is not in place,” Puzo said.

English teacher Amina Farah also said that finalizing the contract took too much time.

“I thought the negotiating process was long and tedious and almost apathetic,” Farah said.

Science teacher Frederic Williams, who spoke at the board meeting in September, said he is glad the teacher contract negotiations came to an end.

“Overall, I’m glad we finally got one after [two] and a half years,” Williams said. “I think the contract itself was fair and reasonable. I’m also happy they doubled the stipends for coaches. We have the opportunity to hire assistants.”

Social studies teacher Aldo Grullon said the process was “tedious and slow but well worth it.” He praised Morris and the negotiating committee for “getting it done in a good amount of time.”

Contracts between the school and its teachers and staff last for three years. The contract that has just been agreed upon is already in its final year, so negotiation will need to begin again at the end of this school year for the next contract.

“I’m hoping we really move to the next negotiations at the end of the school year and set a positive attitude,” Morris said.

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