On Monday evening, the Dracut School Committee voted to sign a contract with the Dracut Teacher’s Union covering last year, this year and the next fiscal year.
Among a number of other items, the contract allows for a 0% raise for last year, a 1.5% raise for this year, and a 1.5% raise for next year.
The agreement also removes “step and grade” increases for the current year.
The board voted 4-1 in favor, with Mr Sheehan voting against.
Sheehan’s concerns are with giving out raises during this economic difficulty, especially at the schools. He spoke to both negotiations with other unions who had all taken 0% raises throughout their contract periods, as well as to the hit the schools will take next year when the next pay increase goes into effect, as well as the step and grade increases.
He made the point that he has nothing but respect for the teachers, but does not agree with their
If this is a hard year, as Mr Miles said, what is next year going to look like?
We are starting to hear news reports on the coming “Sequestration cuts,” and Mr Stone referred to this tonight.
When trying to get a committee to work together to resolve the debt crisis at the federal level, the Congress voted to put in emergency devestating cuts if the committee did not come up with a resolution. These “sequestration” cuts were meant to be a threat to force the group to work together.
Instread, they walked away without a plan.
As of the first of the year, a trillion dollards in cuts are now about to go into effect unless the Congress votes to resolve the situation.
The press has mostly been about defense cuts, because the sequestration cuts affect defense disproportionately, and to the degree that our ability to defend the country would be curtailed significantly.
But tonight we heard the first fears from the other side of the cuts.
Superintendent Stone made the point that significant federal funding for education is also in plans to be cut, which would impact the next fiscal year (2013/2014) by a million dollars.
Many comments were made by school committee members calling on people to look to town meeting, and to rally residents for more money for schools.
Maybe some of that effort should be directed towards Rep Niki Tsongas and Senator Scott Brown (who spoke to this issue in Dracut last weekend) as well.
Upset in Teachers Union Ranks
When you look at the agreement, you hear that “step and grade” increases were given up for one year to get the 1.5% increases for years 2 and 3.
These step increases are given to new teachers as they work their first 5-10 years, helping to pay for education and to gain experience.
Trading these increases off towards raises for all means that the newest and youngest teachers are being forced to sacrifice in favor of the older teachers.
I’m told that the meeting to vote for this contract was less than amicable.
However, its very common for unions to “eat their young” when negotiating, choosing to favor the older members at the cost of the younger, usually by accepting raises knowing that they will force layoffs of the young.
Interestingly, because Massachusetts is moving towards evaluation of teachers being used in layoff selection, now we see the younger teachers being hit on thier increases instead.
But make no mistake, without fiscal changes I see more layoffs in next year’s school year.