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Standing Up “For All, Not Just Some” to Produce Big Returns

The combination of solidarity, persistence and patience is a potent formula for fueling labor-management negotiations aimed at substantially moving the needle for union members. That has proven to be the case for several recent contract wins featuring significant economic gains. Our latest collective bargaining report spotlights a victory rooted in unity and tenacity by paraprofessionals and school-related personnel (PSRP) union members.

In late May, members of our affiliated Westbrook Federation of Non-Certified Personnel gathered at the High School to vote on a tentative agreement with district officials for a new contract. Local union leaders and AFT Connecticut Field Representative Mike Ozga (in photo above, seated second from right) presented the terms of the five-year pact won after more than six months of challenging negotiations.

“We fought for all, not just some, of our members,” said local president and treasurer Maggie Vincent (seated at far left). “This whole process really proved the importance of being patient and not giving up,” she added.

Vincent’s remarks refer to progress made at the negotiating table for the entirety of their diverse membership, which includes nearly 70 district employees with over a dozen different job titles. The local, which she spearheaded in organizing 27 years ago, represents nearly all non-certified personnel supporting student learning in the community’s three schools.

“I think this contract showed that our union is for all,” added vice president and negotiating committee member Nancy Guindon (seated in middle). “We look out for the best interests and the betterment for everybody, not just one particular group,” she added.

Across the board gains that Vincent, Guindon and their committee colleagues secured include annual general wage increases for each year of the contract. They also reached agreement with district officials to keep employees’ medical benefit contributions well below the expected rise of market costs, including three years without any hikes.

“I think we did an amazing job and members are thrilled with how we held the line on insurance,” added Vincent, who works as the Westbrook High School principal’s secretary.

The new contract also included historic pay raises for paraeducators and school nurses, two positions plagued by high turn-over due to low wages and challenging conditions.

“We were losing paras and people weren’t coming here for para jobs; our students were hurting,” said Guindon, a paraeducator at Daisy Ingraham Elementary School. “That’s why these wage increases were so important,” she added.

Committee members additionally won boosted homework room coverage stipends and additional family sick and bereavement leave for all.

Members overwhelmingly ratified the tentative collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which was then formally adopted by the district’s board of education (BOE) the following week. Its provisions went into effect on July 1 when their previous contract expired.

Click here for our announcement of the agreement’s final approval by the BOE.

Since our previous quarterly report in late April, 14 additional collective bargaining victories have been announced on our state federation’s social media platforms. One additional settlement remains in progress to be publicized once final.

Click here for the announcement of our Municipal Unions Coalition’s pension reform legislation signed into law.

Click here for a graphic promoting our West Hartford Federation of Residential Counselors’ new contract.

Click here for the kudos to our Milford Federation of Paraeducators on securing their new agreement.

Click here for the announcement of our Norwalk Federation of Teachers’ agreement on a new health plan.

Click here for our American School for the Deaf (ASD) teachers’ contract win announcement.

Click here for the graphic celebrating our Avon Educational Support Personnel’s new CBA.

Click here for our Winchester Federation of Paraprofessionals members contract win announcement.

Click here for the announcement of our Vernon Federation of Paraprofessionals members securing a new agreement.

Click here for photos of Newtown Federation of Education Personnel members ratifying their new contract.

Click here for the announcement of Newtown Schools Custodians and Maintenance Federation members securing their new agreement.

Click here for a graphic celebrating final adoption of our Hartford Federation of Substitutes’ new contract.

Click here for the announcement of contract wins for two of our Prospect-ECHN Workers United’s bargaining units.

Click here for photos of our Simsbury Federation of Education Personnel members ratifying their new contract.

Matt O'Connor
Matt O'Connorhttp://aftct.org
Communications Coordinator for AFT Connecticut, a labor federation of over 30,000 hard-working women and men in the Nutmeg State.
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