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HomeHealthcareWinning State Resources through "Tireless Activism"

Winning State Resources through “Tireless Activism”

Working people time and again have demonstrated that organizing in coalition enables them to achieve far more than by acting alone. That power was on full display in a recently announced victory following labor leaders’ extensive negotiations with state elected officials. This significant, far-reaching win by paraprofessionals and school-related personnel (PSRP) union members is spotlighted in our latest collective bargaining report.

In early September, labor leaders gathered to announce final terms on an agreement implementing $5 million in state resources they secured to offset public school paraeducators’ healthcare costs. The victory is the result of labor coalition-led negotiations with lawmakers during the Connecticut General Assembly’s 2023 legislative session and codified in June as part of the biennial budget package

“In response to the tireless activism of paras during this year’s legislative session, several elected leaders and officials stepped up,” said Hartford Federation of Paraeducators President Shellye Davis (front row, third from left in photo, above). “They should be acknowledged for doing the right thing for Connecticut’s students.”

As AFT Connecticut’s vice president for paraprofessionals and school-related personnel, Davis participated in the often challenging negotiations aimed at launching the new Paraeducator Healthcare Subsidy Program. She and fellow labor leaders successfully moved legislators, the governor and the state comptroller to agree to provide stipends to more than 4,000 qualifying union members.

Click here for our initial announcement of the landmark agreement.

The Connecticut Paraeducator Coalition, which includes the seven largest state federations, councils and locals representing these vital public education personnel, organized efforts to lift up the profession earlier this year. The legislative action campaign mobilized union members to press lawmakers for resources aimed at bringing down healthcare costs, raising wages, achieving retirement security and improving training

The program is open to paraeducators in local or regional school districts that are enrolled in a high-deductible medical insurance plan with a health savings account (HSA). They are eligible for a one-time stipend that will help pay up to 70% of their annual out-of-pocket costs for personal or family care.

Click here for press reporting on the agreement launching the program.

In late September, the office of the state comptroller distributed the resources to municipalities, local and regional boards of education in late September. Employers were required to dispense payments to eligible union members by October 1st.

Two additional collective bargaining wins have been announced on our state federation’s social media platforms since our previous quarterly report was published in late July. Three additional settlements have yet to be finalized.

Click here for a graphic promoting the new contract secured by our Norwalk Federation of Education Professionals.

Click here for the announcement of our New Milford Hospital RNs Union members’ new agreement.

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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