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Overcoming Challenges to Take a “Step in the Right Direction”

Members of our Windham Federation of Education Personnel in late May gathered at W.B. Sweeney Elementary School to vote on a tentative agreement for a successor union contract. The affiliate’s negotiating committee (photo, below) and AFT Connecticut Field Representative Ben Wenograd two weeks earlier successfully reached a settlement with district officials.
“This will help our members receive more of the support and compensation they deserve,” said local union president Kathy Q. Davis, (top left in photo) who works as a reading tutor at the C.H. Barrows STEM Academy. “It’s not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction.” 
 
The three-year agreement creates a new “sick leave bank,” provides stipends for tutors covering classrooms and extends additional paid personal time to most members. It further establishes a new defined contribution benefit match from the employer for members who waive an available lump sum retirement payout.
 
“This shows that what we do means the world to the children and their families,” said local union treasurer, Ellie Garvie (bottom left, in photo), a paraeducator at Barrows Academy. She added that the agreement will also help boost respect “among the teachers and administrators we work with.”
 
The settlement followed a tumultuous 16 months for the community that began with the closure of school buildings at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak. When the pandemic created further economic havoc for the cash-strapped Windham Public Schools, board of education (BOE) members responded with deep service and painful staff cuts.
 
Click here for press reporting on a June, 2020 education budget hearing that featured local union members.
 
Davis and her committee colleagues negotiated with district officials to invest American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) funds recently appropriated by the U.S. Congress to reverse much of the damage. They further won a wage package that creates a new step system for tutors and security guards as well as replaces paid lunches with large salary increases.
 
An overwhelming majority of members voted to approve the agreement, which received final BOE approval in late June and is retroactive to July, 2020.
 
Click here for photos of members casting their ballots in May.
 
Nine other affiliates’ collective bargaining gains were announced since our April report (two additional settlements were at press time not yet finalized).
 
Click here for an update on our Region 18 Federation of Non-Certified Personnel’s new agreement.
 
Click here for the announcement  of our Rockville Hospital Federation of Registered Nurses’ wage “re-opener” agreement.
 
Click here for the announcement of our University Heath Professionals’ short-term contract extension.
 
Click here for photos of our West Hartford Federation of Residential Counselors’ members ratifying their new contract.
 
Click here for photos of Farmington Public Schools Employees United members meeting to approve their new CBA.
 
Click here for photos of our New London Federation of Non Certified Personnel members voting on their new contract.
 
Click here for an update on our New Haven Federation of Teachers’ Nurses Chapter’s first contract with their new employer.
 
Click here for an update on our Colchester Federation of Education Personnel’s recently ratified CBA.
 
Click here for the announcement of our Administrative & Residual (A&R) Employees Union’s agreement to extend their contract.
 
Thirty-one locals currently are in — or preparing for — negotiations or awaiting arbitration hearings after reaching impasse.
 
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