Updated May 16, 2023
Collective bargaining for all five units of the Wellesley Educators Association (WEA) began in February 2022. While progress was made, agreement could not be reached before the most recent contracts expired at the end of the 2021-2022 school year. After bargaining stalled in the Fall, the School Committee petitioned the Department of Labor Relations (DLR) for mediation in December, seeking assistance from a state-appointed neutral mediator after more than 10 months of bargaining.
The DLR retained oversight of negotiations but directed the School Committee and the WEA to resume bargaining to narrow the number and scope of unresolved items and report back to the DLR at the end of February. The parties met four times in February, and were not able to reach agreement on any of the five contracts that cover the vast majority of WPS staff including teachers, nurses, department heads, directors, assistant principals, paraprofessionals, teaching assistants, secretaries, and other staff members.
On Thursday, March 2, the DLR informed the School Committee and the WEA that it had determined that an impasse exists in accordance with state law, and that a mediator has been assigned to the negotiations. The parties held five mediation sessions, on March 17, March 22, April 6, April 25 and May 8, and came to an agreement on May 12. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was ratified the evening of May 12 by all five units of the WEA, and approved May 16 by the School Committee.
Details of the Agreement
The $11.57 million financial package that the School Committee proposed and the WEA accepted spans four years, through Fiscal Year 2026, and includes a one-year contract followed by a three-year contract to comply with state law. The School Committee’s goal has been to provide fair and appropriate increases while working within the budget parameters set annually by the Select Board and approved by Town Meeting.
The School Committee’s offer on March 22 met all of the most recent cost of living adjustments (COLAs) requested by the WEA for every unit. The May 8 offer kept those COLAS in place and greatly increased the compensation offer for hourly employees in units C, D, and E by adding retention payments to the School Committee package.
With this offer, retention payments will be made to all hourly employees of Units C, D & E who are active or on an approved leave on the last day of the school year. These payments would be either for all four years of the contracts or for the first three years, depending on the position. The lowest wage earners would be eligible for the retention payments for all four years.
The updated compensation package ensures that the lowest paid employees in these units would see significant increases this fiscal year. For example, first-year elementary teaching assistants with current potential earnings of $25,413 this school year would increase to approximately $32,275 this year, and up to $36,205 of potential earnings at the end of the four years.
More detailed information on the retention payments for Units C, D, and E is included below.
Members of Units A and B who are working their way up the pay scale through annual steps will receive an average increase of 27.68 percent for Unit A over the four-year period, and an average increase of 19.0 percent for Unit B during that period.
In addition to annual steps, salary tables in Unit A have “lanes” that allow for higher compensation depending on the level of education completed, ranging from bachelor’s degree to Ph.D. Employees who move on steps or lanes benefit from an additional salary increase. Updated salary tables for the School Committee offer are listed below. Previous salary tables can be found in each of the most recent contracts; for example, the Unit A tables can be found on page 58 of the 2019-22 Unit A contract.
Longevity: Long-term employees may be able to benefit from longevity payments, depending on the eligibility requirements in each contract. This recognizes staff for continuous employment.
For a detailed look at the agreed-upon compensation package, please see the following:
- Summary document outlining the agreed-upon Cost of Living adjustments, retention payments, and other compensation increases for all units
- Unit A Compensation Summary, including salary tables
- Unit B Compensation Summary, including salary tables
- Unit C Materials
- Unit D Materials
- Unit E Materials
Before entering mediation, the Committee and the WEA reached tentative agreements on 44 items (34 items raised by the WEA, 9 items of mutual interest, and one item raised by the School Committee). During mediation the parties reached agreement on several other items (click links for more information on each issue):
- The Committee has made significant movement on parental leave. The School Committee had previously equalized time available for parental leave for all new parents. In late April, the Committee also agreed to work with the WEA to offer a week of paid parental time not out of personal sick time.
- The Committee agreed to the WEA’s requested language for due process for Unit C.
- The Committee has added 30 minutes of individual prep and planning time weekly for classroom teachers at the elementary level.
- The Committee’s package also would provide some additional language at the request of School Committee that requires secondary teachers to formalize their after-school availability by posting office hours once a week.
- The School Committee is also seeking language that supports student safety & well-being by providing additional before-school coverage at the elementary level.
- The Committee has agreed to create a Task Force with representation from both the WEA and the School Committee/administration after elementary consolidation is complete to review elementary specialist staffing.
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE SCHOOL COMMITTEE
Communications from the School Committee that were shared during the process are listed below:
- May 13 Joint Statement from the School Committee and Wellesley Educators Association
- May 12, 223 Update from the Wellesley School Committee
- May 11, 2023 Statement from the Wellesley School Committee
- May 9, 2023 Update on Negotiations
- April 9, 2023 Update on Negotiations
- April 5, 2023 Letter from the School Committee
- March 23, 2023 Update on Negotiations
- March 1, 2023 Letter from the School Committee
- February 10, 2023 Update on Negotiations
- February 2, 2023 Update from the Wellesley School Committee
- January 28, 2023 Update on Negotiations Process
- December 7, 2022 Statement from the Wellesley School Committee