After a contract campaign that brought hundreds of educators, elected officials, and community members together to demand salaries for educators that reflect regional standards, living wages for all support staff, and better resources for students and educators, AFT Amesbury, the union representing educators in the Amesbury Public Schools, has reached a tentative agreement on a historic contract settlement. The union pushed for months to ensure this new contract provides the working and learning conditions staff and students deserve.
“Our union, over 300 members strong, sent a very clear message that when we unite as workers, we can win the wages and working conditions we all deserve,” said Cindy Yetman, President of AFT Amesbury. “This accomplishment would not have been possible without more than a year of organizing by teachers, students, parents, and community members. The School Committee and Mayor’s hard work with us on these negotiations brought to fruition the best contract our union has settled in decades. We achieved this together.”
The tentative agreement codified school schedules that increased access to arts and music for students, created longer lunches for elementary school students, and ensured more time for educators to prepare for their time with students. In addition, all three bargaining units will have access to a transformation parental leave program that provides all parents access to 12 weeks of time off for the birth or adoption of a child, of which two weeks are fully paid by the district.
“Fair schedules and paid parental leave are exactly the kinds of common good solutions that students, parents, and educators have been advocating for in the Amesbury Public Schools,” said Ian Opolski, a teacher at Amesbury High School. “The milestone achievements in this contract will help to make our school more successful for both students and teachers. If we continue to work together in our advocacy, we can help to ensure that Amesbury Public Schools will become the best schools that they can possibly be.”
The tentative agreement raises the minimum wage for paraprofessionals in Amesbury from $16,000 to $26,000. It will increase the maximum salary from $32,000 to $42,000 by the end of the three-year contract. In addition, paraprofessionals will have a more equitable work year and work day that reflects greater parity with the teachers' school year.
“Our new contract finally recognizes the years of service our hard-working and committed members have given to our community,” said Lauren Snay, paraprofessional unit chair. “This agreement will make serious strides to remedy the poverty pay Amesbury was paying its lowest wage earners. It will also make a paraprofessional who commits to a career supporting students more dignified. This victory will demonstrate across the region that a rising tide lifts all boats.”
The agreement will now be sent to the rank-and-file union membership and the school committee for ratification. Find more information at www.amesburyunited.com.