Here are a YouTube video and pictures from the Northampton Association of School Employees (NASE) protest rally and public comment before the School Committee at the committee’s June 23 meeting. Also presented are two short YouTube highlights from the public comments. NASE objects to the committee’s plan to withhold contracted wage increases and feels the committee is circumventing the negotiation process.
Union Protests School Committee – June 23, 2011
Gazette: “Northampton school board approves budget minus step raise funds” (6/25/11)
At the start of Thursday’s meeting, School Committee members were met by a crowd of more than 150 union members and supporters who packed the community room at JFK Middle School to protest what they said was the committee’s unilateral decision to eliminate $325,000 for employee step raises before collective bargaining sessions have occurred…
…Mayor Higgins declined the School Committee’s request for additional funds needed to stave off other cuts in school personnel, citing the historically low levels of reserves in the city budget. Further cuts identified by the administrative team included a fifth-grade teacher at the Jackson Street School, a foreign language teacher at JFK, two elementary school reading teachers and reductions in full-time teaching positions in math, music and theater at the high school.
Avoiding those cuts was what led school leaders to eliminate funds for step raises from the budget, said School Committee Vice Chair Stephanie Pick. “There isn’t any disrespect intended in this,” she added.
Gazette: “Northampton school union calls on committee members to resign” (6/16/11)
The proposed $28.1 million budget set to go before the School Committee June 23 includes no raises for school staff in the coming year. School officials have said the move would save $325,000 and would stave off cuts to vital staff and programs.
But that proposal has riled school employees, who say it was made without consultation with the union. On Tuesday, the six unions that comprise the Northampton Association of School Employees, passed a no-confidence vote in the School Committee and called on its members to resign.
“What’s missing here was the initial collective bargaining to get to wherever they wanted to get to,” said Sharon Carlson, NASE president, in a phone interview Wednesday night. “They just circumvented collective bargaining and said we’re not going to do that. It basically feels like Wisconsin in Northampton.”