Bangor teachers want new contract, fill City Hall at School Committee meeting

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Several frustrated Bangor teachers who have been working without a new contract gathered at Wednesday night's School Committee meeting in hopes of being heard - but were not allowed to voice their concerns.

Members of the Bangor Education Association say discussions on a new contract for teachers have been underway for months, but they say because school officials have been unwilling to meet demands - a mediator needed to be hired.

Now they've circulated a petition that was signed by more than 70 percent of Bangor teachers.

Their main complaints are increased workload without compensation, being denied the use of personal days, and they want an increase in overall salaries.

They had hoped to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting but were cut off.

"Because there is an agreement between the school committee and the BEA that negotiations will not be conducted in public, discussion of the negotiation at this meeting would be a potential violation of the collective bargaining agreement law," said School Committee Chair Susan Hawes.

"We hoped we would be heard and it's discouraging that we were not listened to," said BEA member and Bangor teacher Cyndy Fish. "That is one of our concerns. We feel that we aren't listened to when we have comments and concerns and we feel like we are shut down all of the time."

"The teachers really came out in numbers tonight and just that we got the 249 signatures," said BEA President Heather Bandure. "The teachers have really put a lot of time and energy into this petition and a lot of time and energy in showing up here tonight and unfortunately it just didn't turn out the way we hoped."

Negotiations are scheduled again for March 19th.

The teachers said they were hopeful progress would be made.