Martha’s Vineyard Schools reach new agreements with union employees

Martha’s Vineyard Schools reach new agreements with union employees

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The All-Island School Committee (AISC) ratified tentative three-year collective bargaining agreements for paraprofessionals, custodians, and food service workers at a meeting April 27.

Among significant changes, all three groups agreed to a zero percent wage increase in 2010-2011, year one of their agreements. They also agreed to give up the option of a Master Medical/Master Health Plus (indemnity) plan and switch to a preferred provider organization or health maintenance organization, for which they will receive an incentive payment.

The estimated total of wage increases in the three agreements, if the same number of actual employees in fiscal year 2010 (FY10) remained employed through FY13, would be about $360,000, according to Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools (MVPS) business administrator Amy Tierney.

The estimated amount includes $255,282 for 111 paraprofessionals, a 10.63 percent increase over FY10; $72,507 for 23 custodians, a 5.66 increase over FY10; and $32,241 for 11 food service workers, an 11.84 percent increase over FY10.

Down to the details

At the top of the paraprofessionals’ new agreement is a change in job title. They will now be called “education support professionals (ESPs).” Their salary matrix, as well as ones for custodians and food service workers, includes steps for increased pay for each year worked.

ESPs will receive a 2 percent increase in years two and three, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. Their salary amounts are based on 182 work days, 6 hours a day, and include a differential for those with bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Under the new agreement, for example, the salary for a new ESP with a bachelor’s degree would increase from $18,109 at step one to $18,446 in year two and $18,8837 in year three. At step 8, the salary range increases from $23,835 to $24,319 in year two and $24,810 in year three.

The third year of the ESPs agreement also includes an additional top step, with a 4 percent wage increase. An ESP with a bachelor’s degree would earn $25,804 at step nine.

The sick leave buy-back for ESPs who retire from the MVPS after at least 10 years of service increases from $12 to $20 a day for up to 180 days of accrued sick time upon retirement.

Custodians and food service workers will receive an increase of 2 percent in year two and 2.75 percent in year three.

The custodians’ agreement is based on 261 workdays, 8 hours a day. Under the new salary schedule, a regular custodian’s wages would increase from $31,863 at step one to $32,150 in year two and $33,280 in year three.

The sick leave buy-back for custodians who retire from the MVPS after at least 10 years of service increases from $20 to $30 a day for up to 180 days of accrued sick time upon retirement.

The food service workers’ agreement covers 11 cafeteria workers employed in the Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Tisbury schools in the categories of head cook, assistant cook, and 180-day and 190-day helpers.

The hourly wage for a 190-day helper, for example, would increase from $14.03 at step one to $14.31 in year two and $14.70 in year three. The food service workers’ agreement also includes a new top step eleven with a 3 percent increase with an hourly rate of $23.12 in year one, $23.59 in year two and $24.23 in year three.

Give and take

As stated in the first paragraph, all three bargaining units agreed to give up the option of a Master Medical/Master Health Plus (indemnity) plan and switch to a preferred provider organization or health maintenance organization. They will receive an incentive payment for doing so.

ESPs at the top step of the salary schedule also will receive a one-time stipend of $450 in their first paycheck of fiscal year 2012. Custodians at the top step as of June 30, 2010, will receive a one-time bonus payment of $600.

Longevity pay for ESPs and custodians, which starts after completing 10 years’ of work, increases by $250 across the board, effective in year one of their agreements. Under new longevity pay categories, ESPs will receive $2,250 for each year worked after completing 25 years and custodians $3,000 for each year worked after completing 30.

ESPs who work with students with intensive needs will receive an additional $1 per hour for direct service to those students, for a total of $3 per hour for a special education pay differential. The hourly rate for interpreters increases from $21.02 to $23.50 per hour.

A long process

The tentative agreements come at the end of a 22-month negotiation process. Contracts expired in June 2010 for teachers, secretaries, paraprofessionals, custodians, and cafeteria workers in the Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools (MVPS). Each group has a bargaining unit.

The Island has two educators’ professional associations — the Martha’s Vineyard Educators Association and the Martha’s Vineyard Regional Teachers and Educators Association. Their representatives negotiate as one team for teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians, and cafeteria workers. Each group has a collective bargaining unit.

The educators’ association’s team and a team of All-Island School Committee members and MVPS administrators began the contract negotiation process in July 2009, starting with the teachers. Both sides ratified a new teachers’ contract as of July 2010 and a secretaries’ contract as of January 2011, following mediation.

The educators’ association’s bargaining team met in March and April to get their members’ approval for the tentative agreements for the three remaining units.

Mr. Weiss gave special thanks to everyone who served on the AISC negotiations subcommittee. AISC members included Roxanne Ackerman, Colleen McAndrews, Susan Mercier, Dave Rossi, Robert Tankard, and Priscilla Sylvia, and former member Susan Parker.

Former Oak Bluffs selectman Ron DiOrio, Aquinnah selectman Jim Newman, and Joan Borkow, the West Tisbury selectmen’s representative, also served on the team, along with town finance committee members Richard Williams (Chilmark), Fred Condon (Edgartown), and Bruce Lewellyn (Tisbury).