Teachers’ association publicizes contract negotiations and calls for city support | Daily news alerts


WEST – Leaders of the union representing teachers in the city’s public schools are asking for support from the school committee and city council. The request follows a previous decision by the union not to publicly discuss negotiations on a new collective agreement.

Since August, the union, Westerly Teachers Association, has rejected two contract proposals made by the school committee. The teachers are currently working under a contract that expired on August 31.

The two sides say they have yet to come to an agreement on salaries, how much teachers should contribute towards the cost of the health care benefits they receive from the district and the length of the teachers’ working day.

“Teachers in the West have successfully helped our students through two grueling years of a global pandemic and all of its associated traumas that still hold us in their grip. We will continue to show ourselves every day for our students. It’s time for the school committee and the City Council will show up for the teachers of Westerly, ”said Colleen Saila, WTA president and teacher at Dunn’s Corners Elementary School.

The school committee’s offer, according to Saila, would require teachers to agree to co-sharing health care at a rate “well above” the state average.

“Raising the cost of healthcare in the midst of a global health crisis is particularly unfair and all the more so in the third year of the contract, when that cost would consume the proposed salary increase,” Saila said in a statement. written statement sent in response to questions submitted. by Le Soleil.

The co-sharing, according to the president of the school committee Diane Chiaradio Bowdy, would exceed only the average of the state for the teachers who chose not to go to the “cheaper and more profitable health savings account”.

The WTA also claims that the school committee offered to extend teachers’ working days, but did not offer a corresponding salary increase.

“We are already taking our work home and balancing this extra time of engagement with our students with the needs of our families. We make ourselves available – with pleasure and with an open heart – at all times for our students and their parents because we want to provide that level of dedication and drive in learning, especially now, ”said Saila.

Chiaradio Bowdy said the committee had proposed “a modest additional amount of time in the teachers’ working day, beyond the student day, to ensure the safe arrival and discharge of students.” Currently, according to Chiaradio Bowdy, there are cases where teachers arrive and leave at the same time as students.

“This is not a good practice and could compromise the safety and well-being of the students. As a concession, the committee also proposed to shorten the work year by one day,” said Chiaradio Bowdy.

Teachers are currently required to work 185 days and students are in school for 180 days.

Under the current contract, teachers must “be in or near their classrooms to assist with student supervision for the start of the student day and to admit students into the hallway or classrooms.”

The contract also stipulates that “the committee agrees to continue the program of hiring auxiliary staff to take over non-teaching duties” and that teachers would be relieved of their non-teaching duties, including supervision of the playground, from the cafeteria, bus services and morning service.

The committee, said Chiaradio Bowdy, has proposed “reasonable wage increases with a fiscal impact that would also be reasonable. The committee has no fiscal power and cannot pledge amounts beyond what the city is willing to do. to be financed “.

Teachers in the district, Saila said, have taken on the initial challenge of COVID-19 and served as role models on how to teach during a pandemic to teachers elsewhere in the state and in Connecticut.

“The school committee says they cannot give us more because the city council will not release funds.… We, the teachers, are only asking that we be fairly compensated,” Saila said.

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