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Braving the Elements to Lock In “What Matters Most”

Paraeducators in Milford Public Schools in early August turned out to ratify a new contract with the district secured six weeks earlier by their local union’s negotiating committee. Despite the uncertain climate created by the global health emergency, leaders reached a settlement on a three-year agreement with significant economic gains.
“Tough times did not stop our union from coming together and coming up with a win,” said Laura Kuchta, a veteran paraeducator at the town’s Pumpkin Delight School. “With the uncertainty in these odd times, job stability and benefits is what matters most,” added Kuchta, who serves as president of our Milford Federation of Paraprofessionals.
With the support of AFT Connecticut field representative Elizabeth Guerra, Kuchta and the negotiating committee won general wage increases for each year of the agreement. The accomplishment was remarkable, considering district officials’ initial attempts to freeze earnings for all 155 members of the local union over the term of the contract.
Kuchta credited the pay hikes to the committee “standing together, standing strong,” for their shared values and key priorities. Their collective efforts additionally increased accumulated paid sick leave, boosted longevity payments for eligible employees and expanded stipends to include paraeducators serving medically fragile students and registered behavior techs (RBT).
Union leaders organized a “drive-up” ratification (above) at town hall in order to allow for social distancing and protect members’ health. Balloting was scheduled well before it was apparent that Hurricane Isaias could also disrupt the process, so the decision proved critical to expediting voting. 
Click here for additional photos of Milford paraeducators turning out despite the impending storm.
Reflecting on the strength of collective bargaining despite unprecedented challenges, Kuchta said “negotiating and ratifying a contract through a pandemic and hurricane shows true dedication.”
Five additional full-term contracts were ratified since our previous collective bargaining report in July.
Click here for the announcement of our New Haven Federation of Teachers’ new agreement.
Click here for photos of Meriden Federation of Paraprofessionals’ members voting on their new contract.
Click here for our West Haven Federation of Teachers’ members’ ratification  announcement.
Click here for photos of Federation of Windham Hospital Registered Nurses’ members casting ballots on their new contract.

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