MSAD 49 Ed Techs working without contracts amid 15-month negotiation
FAIRFIELD, Maine (WABI) - One Maine school district is in a 15-month contract negotiation standoff - and those affected say there’s no end in sight.
MSAD 49 covers Fairfield, Benton, Clinton and Albion.
Their roughly 80-90 educational technicians have been working without a contract since theirs expired last July.
Marcus Mixer is an ed tech and the union representative.
He says they are asking for wages comparable to local districts that pay more, two paid holidays and affordable insurance.
In the meantime, Mixer says they’re losing staff, which compromises the public education for the neediest of children.
”We want to have the best education we can with our children in the district, but the school board has put priorities other places,” Mixer said. “The message is loud and clear: ‘We can just staff our school with anybody off the street, you guys aren’t anything special.’ And, we really feel that’s a slap in the face to dedicated ed techs.
“I work with a blind student, she’s using Braille to communicate. I really feel that this is an important service that we offer, and I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
School Superintendent Roberta Hersom responded to our inquiry for comment with the following message:
“We are currently in negotiations with our ed tech employees for a new contract. While negotiations are pending, the employees are operating under the existing contract. They continue to have the benefits under the contract and the protections under the contract. Those employees who were entitled to step increases earlier this year have received raises.
We have had many good discussions with our employees about their requested changes to the status quo and the parties have reached a number of tentative agreements. There are several outstanding areas that the parties are still working on and together we are participating in the state’s dispute resolution process to iron out the remaining areas of disagreement. The Board has made proposals and counterproposals that align with its core goals: Fair wages that are in line with the area market; benefits that are fair to employees and that do not impede the district’s ability to serve our students; and contract language that is very clear and that minimizes the risk of disputes and expense.
The Board has made clear to our ed techs that they are valued members of our school community and that it is working to balance the desires of employees, the needs of our students, and the financial impact that will be shouldered by our taxpayers. The Board looks forward to resolving the negotiations in the near future.”
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