Martha’s Vineyard school secretaries ratify new contract

Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools (MVPS) secretaries ratified a new union contract Monday afternoon, superintendent of schools James Weiss told The Times in a phone call Tuesday.

Next, Mr. Weiss said the All-Island School Committee (AISC) will meet in early January to review the contract.

Mr. Weiss said he would make the details of the new contract public after ratification by the AISC.

“I can simply say that there are some language issues and a small salary increase over a three-year period,” he said.

Union contracts for teachers, para-professionals, custodians, secretaries, and cafeteria workers expired on June 20, 2010. A team of All-Island School Committee members and MVPS administrators began contract negotiations with the five bargaining units more than a year ago.

Negotiations stalled between the secretaries and the AISC negotiations team in October. The groups sought the assistance of a professional mediator appointed by the state Public Employee Labor Relations Board.

At that time, Mr. Weiss deferred any questions about the secretaries’ bargaining position to their spokesman, Tisbury School secretary Marsha Shufrin. She told The Times her workers did not want to comment.

In addition to step increases already in place for secretaries, the AISC proposed a multi-year contract with cost of living (COL) increases similar to the ones teachers accepted in a new three-year contract, according to Mr. Weiss.

The contract teachers signed on September 22 provides a zero percent cost of living (COL) increase in fiscal year 2011 (FY11) which began July 1; a 2 percent increase in FY12; and a 2.75 percent increase in FY13.

The MVPS currently employ 23 secretaries, whose work hours equate to 22.35 full-time positions. Annual salaries range from $35,417 for a new secretary recently hired, to $52,908 for secretaries at the top step of an 11-step pay scale, with a five percent increase at each step.

Contract negotiations continue between the AISC and custodians and para-professionals, Mr. Weiss said. Cafeteria workers agreed on a multi-year contract in June, with the exception of a COL increase, which is currently under negotiation.