The BEU and School Committee Negotiating Teams negotiated Thursday, January 28. The School Committee proposed a package proposal to settle all outstanding issues in paraprofessional negotiations, including wages. The BEU Bargaining Team finds the offer completely unacceptable – for four reasons chiefly. We’ll briefly explain why.
- The overall wage proposal would still keep paras at far below a livable wage.
Specifically, the School Committee proposed a three-year wage package, increasing salaries by 1% halfway through year one, 2% halfway through year 2, and 2% at the start of year three. For our lowest paid full-time direct care educators, their salary would increase by $91 the first year of the agreement, to about $18,300, then rise to roughly $18, 600 in the second year, before topping out at $19, 170 in three years.
The 2016 Federal Poverty Level for the United States (not taking into consideration the high cost of living in the Greater Boston Area) is $20,090 for a family of 3.
- The package comes with a new, higher salary scale for classroom paraprofessionals, but only those working in certain programs.
Specifically, the School Committee is calling for a new, higher, salary scale, for those classroom paraprofessionals who work in seven programs: Adaptive Learning Center (ALC), Reaching for Independence Through Structured Education (RISE), Language and Academic Home Base (LAHB), Supportive Learning Center, Therapeutic Learning Center (TLC), Community Based Classroom (CBC), and ExCEL. This new 12-step salary scale would allow some classroom paras to gradually increase their pay to a little less than $30,000 a year at the top of this new scale. In so doing, this proposal devalues the work done by classroom paraprofessionals working in all other programs – dividing hard working paras into the poorly paid and the really poorly paid.
- The package allows layoffs and reduction in hours of paraprofessionals during the year.
This package essentially eliminates the hard-fought job security that paraprofessionals won in the last few contracts by giving the employer the right to eliminate para jobs mid-year or to reduce their hours at will. Paraprofessionals, unlike Unit A or B employees, would have no assurance throughout the year that they would even have a job – even if their work was exemplary. Why should the lowest paid also have the least job security?
- Rejects all other BEU proposals for improvements for paraprofessionals.
The BEU is seeking many significant improvements in the benefits and work rules of paraprofessionals, including: paid lunch (currently all paras are docked 30 minutes for their lunch period), eliminating forced overtime, notice of who supervises and directs the work of paras, recall rights of paras who are laid off, and improvements to holiday pay, bereavement, vacation, and longevity pay. This package would require that we drop all of those proposals.