Dear Members of the WPS Community,
We would like to provide the community with an update on the current status of our ongoing negotiations with the Wellesley Educators Association (WEA).
Representatives from the School Committee and the WEA met on the afternoon of February 8.
In advance of this meeting, the School Committee submitted a package proposal that included significant movement on two of the items that are of most interest to the WEA: parental leave and due process for the teaching assistants and paraprofessionals.
The WEA leadership did not bring any proposals of its own to the bargaining session, which meant no counter proposal to the latest compensation package that the School Committee had submitted in October. In addition, the School Committee has not yet received the promised written response to the proposal it submitted this week.
Scheduling a followup meeting with WEA leadership has been difficult. Since hearing from the Department of Labor Relations, the Committee has strongly advocated to meet for a full day in order to have time to make significant progress on the open items and more quickly reach a fair and equitable contract. In fact, last week, when presented with the idea of meeting in longer, full-day sessions, the WEA leadership responded with: “We appreciate the willingness to bargain beyond the usual afternoon sessions, for example, bargaining throughout a workday as you’d mentioned. We are intrigued and even excited about this possibility, but would like to see how next Wednesday goes first. If it’s clear that there is a willingness for the School Committee to negotiate in good faith and offer counter-proposals, then we would absolutely be willing to give up our valuable time with students to settle the contract.”
Consistent with this direction, at the conclusion of Wednesday’s session, we offered full-day session dates both before and after the February break. The union bargaining team raised no objections to this approach and began exploring different dates with us in the room.
We were quite surprised and disappointed by social media posts made on Thursday by the WEA leadership that accused the School Committee of proposing full-day sessions as a means to keep its silent bargaining representatives out of the bargaining process. We have no concerns about these representatives being present. This public mischaracterization of the School Committee’s interest is certainly not in the spirit of good faith bargaining.
A full-day meeting for February 28 that had been agreed to by both parties on Thursday afternoon was abruptly canceled by the WEA leadership later that same night. The WEA leadership has offered to meet this Sunday, but since we have not received any proposals from them we feel this would not be productive.
The Committee has offered to meet this coming Wednesday beginning at 12:30 p.m. in an extended session. Since it is a half day for elementary students, this will be less disruptive.
We will continue to share information with the community as the negotiations process continues. We feel an urgency to reach a fair and equitable agreement with our teachers and staff and hope that all parties can work together toward this goal.
Linda Chow and Catherine Mirick,
Members of the Wellesley School Committee Bargaining Team