This has been a year of change in the WREA, as could be expected after our long-term leadership stepped down following their many years of dedicated work. Newly elected officers began our terms with a goal of increasing members’ access to information and their involvement in education issues at a local and state level.
As president, I attended upwards of 200 meetings this year. The details of my activities are shared in monthly reports sent out to the HOD members and attached to the minutes of the monthly HOD meetings. They can be viewed in your building binder or on the website if you are interested. I attend school committee meetings, bargaining sessions, DDM working group/cadre meetings, superintendent meetings, disciplinary hearings, an arbitration, grievance reviews, Eboard and HOD meetings, and MTA trainings and meetings-all typical for the president of an association. In addition to those meetings, this year I have attended 38 work site meetings. One of my goals this year was to meet members in their workplaces. It can be difficult in a large district to find ways to bring our association together. The ever-increasing job responsibilities in education often appear designed solely to inhibit collaboration and activism when it is needed the most! With release time from my teaching duties next year, I plan to have a regular schedule of school site visits as we begin grassroots organizing work to take action together to improve education within the district.
There have been MANY members involved beyond their classroom teaching. Members have worked on District Determined Measures, Professional Development and Curriculum Task Forces, Research for Better Teaching Data Team Training, and much much more! To all members who have invested your precious time and energy in working towards improving education-THANK YOU. I admire your dedication and your willingness to be engaged. Your tireless efforts are reflected in the level of student achievement despite our limited resources.
As I reflect on the past year, these are some of the highlights for me in my new role.
July 2014-new WREA website created and Facebook group formed
August 25- Executive board introduction/remarks at opening day
September and October- 12 school sites visits by executive board members
September-online negotiation survey opened to identify issues
September-signed MOAs, contract, evaluation system and bylaws on website
October 6-new HOD seated with 29 of 30 HOD seats filled
October 8, 15 and 22 Negotiation open meetings held for all members
October 27-forum with MTA president Barbara Madeloni at curriculum center on reclaiming public education
November 10-Signature drive against license renewal tied to teacher evaluation
November 14-Victory! License proposal withdrawn by Mitchell Chester
December 6-Interest Based Bargaining Training-10 WREA members attended
December-April Interest Based Bargaining sessions held with superintendent, Legal Affairs Subcommittee of the WRSD School Committee, 8 WREA member Negotiation TEAM
December 8-12, 15-19 data collection by WREA members using Inadequate Resources Report
December 16-23 WREA online survey of Special Education Teachers working conditions
January 5-12 letter campaign to Governor Baker against 9C cuts totaling $1.4 million to the current WRSD budget sent with 200+ signatures
February 7 MTA Bargaining Summit in Devens, four WREA members attended
February 27to March 1-Attended NEA National Leadership Summit, Anaheim CA as a Massachusetts Representative
March 22-Schools Wachusett Students Deserve Facebook page created-926 people reached with first post
March 23-You, Inc Arbitration hearing on grievance filed at WRHS
March to April-Six WREA members on principal search committees for TPS, Dawson and Chocksett
April 24 to 30- Five general discussion member meetings held for PEC insurance and contract vote
May 1st- District wide vote on insurance (206 yes/251 no) and tentative agreement (197 yes/263 no)
May 7th-Schools Wachusett Students Deserve $2500 grant application approved from MTA Public Relations and Organizing Committee
May 8 & 9- MTA Annual Meeting in Boston, attended by 9 WREA members
May 12 to 20-Thirteen school site meetings held to inform members of new insurance proposal/gather feedback on failed contract
May 22-District wide insurance vote on second proposal(299 yes/146 no)
June 3 to 16-Fourteen school site/general discussion meetings held to inform members of new tentative contract agreement
June 8-GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING at WRHS Media Center 4:30 pm
June 18-District wide contract ratification vote
June 22-LAST DAY OF SCHOOL!
July 1 to 6- NEA RA Annual meeting of Delegates in Orlando FL, 2 WREA members attending
Negotiations: Jennifer Lee
The year started with Joe Jourdain in this position. Joe’s monthly reports can be found on the WREA website as well as in each school’s HOD binders. In the fall, Joe created and sent out a survey to members regarding the contract negotiations that would take place this school year. Joe also led the initial three contract discussion meetings in October to get a better feel for what the members wanted. On December 6, members who were interested, attended the all-day training for Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB). I was at that training and remained on the Negotiations Team throughout the year. After months of meeting with Darryll and the School Committee’s Legal Affairs Subcommittee, the Negotiations Team presented a Tentative Agreement (TA) to members in April. Five informational meetings were held to educate members on the changes made and the language/salary that was being presented. Members also voted on the changes to the insurance agreement. Both the insurance changes and the contract were voted down. Because of this, the Negotiations Team needed to continue their work so a new agreement could be presented to members. The PEC (Public Employee Committee) also drafted a new health insurance agreement for members to vote on.
At the beginning of May, Joe resigned from his position as VP of Negotiations. At the end of May, the Executive Board held a meeting to appoint a new person to this position. In order to participate in the negotiations meetings we had this year, all participants must have been present at the IBB training on December 6th. IBB is a different type of bargaining as opposed to “traditional” bargaining. Therefore, the Executive Board felt it was important to have the new VP of Negotiations be a person from the bargaining team who participated in the IBB training. Because I participated in the training and was on the team throughout the year, the E-Board appointed me until we hold elections next spring.
In my short time in this position, we have drafted a new TA and are currently in the process of holding building meetings to inform members of the changes. The “General Information Meeting” will be held at the high school at 4:00 on Wednesday, June 10, and the vote to ratify the contract will be held on Thursday, June 18th. All of the other meeting dates/times/locations can be found in the email Heidi sent to all members on June 2.
The new TA includes language changes around the sick bank/extended illness leave, prep time at the K-8 level, personal days, bereavement days, and course approval. All other changes presented in the “failed contract” remain the same (such as the $3200 longevity, language for part-time employees, language for ABAs, the salary, and “housekeeping” language).
At this time, we are also looking for members to serve with me on the Sick Bank Committee. The district will NOT be a part of the Sick Bank Committee; it will be comprised solely of WREA members. According to the contract “Article 19 Provisions for Leave Section L 9” states, “9. The Sick Bank shall be administered by a Sick Bank Leave Committee consisting of five (5) WREA members, designated by the President or his designee. Decisions by the Committee require a majority vote (3).” If you are interested in serving on this committee, please email me (JenniferLeeWREA@gmail.com) or Heidi (HeidiLaheyWREA@gmail.com).
I am happy to have been appointed VP of Negotiations and I will do my best to fill Joe’s shoes. I am looking forward to ratifying the contract and continuing our important work for the upcoming school year.
Contract Maintenance: Mike Lague
As of June 1, 2015, the 2014 – 2015 school year had the filing of four grievances on behalf of WREA members. One decision from an arbitration hearing was reached. Five matters were investigated in regards to the contract.
Grievance-2014-2015-1: Special Education Direct Instruction Class Action
The WREA contended that a breach of contract had occurred in relation to Article 1.1 of the Recognition Clause.
Grievance was denied by the superintendent.
WREA requested the matter be placed in abeyance.
Grievance-2014-2015-2: Workload Equity Class Action
The WREA contended that district had violated the collective bargaining agreement including but not limited to articles 14 A.1 ,14. A.4 and the evaluation tool when administration created inequitable classes in general education in terms of students with special needs by clustering students into certain classes.
Grievance was denied by the superintendent.
WREA requested the matter be placed in abeyance.
Grievance-2014-2015-3: Lane Change Grievance at Thomas Prince
A grievance was filed in response to the district disallowing a member the recognition of her CAGS degree. The member had approval from the previous superintendent for the program.
Resolution: The initial decision by the district was reversed. The member was awarded the CAGS salary lane.
Grievance-2014-2015-4: Transportation Grievance at Chocksett
A grievance was filed in response to member a member being asked to handle a transportation issue.
Resolution: The matter was resolved with the building administration.
You Inc.: The issue to be decided by the arbitrator was: Did the Wachusett Regional School District violate the collective bargaining agreement by allowing YOU, Inc. to deliver counseling, mental health and social services to students at Wachusett Regional High School?
The arbitrator ruled that WRSD did not violate the collective bargaining agreement. The grievance was denied.
Investigations into equity concerns with data teams at Paxton Center School.
Investigations into additional workload/equity concerns with WREA members participation in Research for Better Teaching (RBT).
Investigation into the start date of the 2015-2016 school year in regards to year round ABA teachers and their two week summer recess.
Investigation into an ABA teacher being compensated for the coverage of a maternity leave at Naquag.
Investigation into an ABA teacher being compensated for the scheduling of other classrooms and classroom coverage at ECC. (ongoing)
Attendance at MTA Annual Conference
Participated in Writing, Presenting and Organizing Support for Grievances
Attendance at School Committee Meetings
Attendance at Superintendent Meetings
Conferred with the Curriculum Supervisor regarding the Curriculum and Professional Development Task Force Postings
Attended the MTA All Presidents’ Meeting (March 2015)
General Membership Annual Meeting
Annual Reports: June 8, 2015
Treasurer’s Report Bob Becker