Going into contract negotiations this year, Windsor Locks school paraprofessionals expected difficulty because the school board would not share their proposed budget for the coming school year. The union also knew layoffs were possible. As of this writing a school budget has not been passed by the town.
Nevertheless, the union achieved a three-year contract with wage increases of 2 percent, 2 percent, and 1 percent. The school board wanted to cut the pay for substituting in half but ultimately agreed to retain the current contract language.
For years this contract has included language in various articles referring to vacancies and transfers. It was easy for a member to become confused about their rights under the contract because they would read one section and think they understood the vacancy and transfer language, but related and sometimes seemingly contradictory language was placed elsewhere in the agreement. The union combed through the contract and was able to bring all the vacancy and transfer language together in a new article on that topic.
Classification was removed from the vacancy language since all paraprofessional are in the same classification. Additional language was added regarding emergency vacancies. If a new position opens up due to a child’s needs and no one within the unit applies for the job, the position can be filled from outside until the district can hire a qualified candidate to fill the bargaining unit position. Summer school positions shall be filled by active members of the bargaining unit. Any paraprofessional requesting a transfer for the next school year shall do so by June 1 of each year.
On professional development half days, paraprofessionals in the middle and high school will take their lunch break after the students have left school. The professional development committee will be required to meet twice a year to discuss professional development opportunities for the paraprofessionals. State-mandated trainings will take precedence over professional development committee trainings. Election Day and one other day during the school year will be mandated professional development days.
On healthcare the paraprofessional unit will move to an HSA plan this year as their primary plan. They will retain the lower deductible rates of $1,500 - $3,000. In the first year an employee may do a buy up to the PPO at a rate of 23 percent of the premium. The HSA premium cost shares will be 13 percent, 15 percent, and 17 percent. The cost share of the deductible will be 50 percent by the school board, and this year only it will be placed into the HSA accounts on or about July 1. In subsequent years the employer contribution to deductibles will go into employees’ accounts on September 1. Dental and vision care remain the same.
The members of the negotiating committee were Tracey Rand, Janine Liddell, Karen Walker, Kristan Ireland, Melissa Pascarelli, Joanne Bornas and Jessica Hoyt. They were assisted by UE Field Organizer Annie MacDonald.