MTA’s Negotiating Team’s Statement on Continued Negotiation Delays

Dear Medford Community Members,

It has been three weeks since the Medford School Committee declared an impasse to the Medford Educators contract negotiations. These three weeks have represented wasted opportunities for good faith bargaining sessions and have accomplished nothing other than adding uncertainty to a school year in which students, educators, parents, and guardians are in dire need of stability. For the good of the students and our members, the MTA negotiations team is once again asking the district to return to the table and continue to work towards a fair contract that will help to stop the loss of quality educators that the district has been undergoing since our last contract has expired.  

Mediation as a method of settling a negotiation is a slow and nonbinding process that has failed in several districts in the state. This includes Pittsfield, MA, whose contract mediation began in April and was not completed until mid September. Amherst-Pelham Regional Public Schools also entered mediation in July and have yet to settle their contract. As both the Medford Public Schools and the Medford Teachers Association’s negotiation teams have been engaged in good faith bargaining with consistent movement on the remaining key issues throughout this year, it is only logical to state that continued talks between the two parties will settle the contract long before the Department of Labor’s mediator will. 

The educators of Medford are passionate and dedicated professionals and the MTA is proud to represent them. We worked closely with the district on the implementation of remote learning, the reopening of the 2020-2021 school year, and over the past year to get our members a fair contract. We want to continue the difficult but worthwhile job of bargaining so that our members can focus on their students in one of the most difficult times in this country’s history. We urge the district to return to the table and do the job they were hired to do. 

Members of the MTA negotiating team

  • Charlene Douglas President Medford Teachers Association
  • Jennifer Rigano Vice President Medford Teachers Association
  • Ellie O’Leary Secretary Medford Teachers Association
  • Joanne McKay Financial Secretary Medford Teachers Association
  • Patricia Brandl Treasurer Medford Teachers Association
  • Shawn Morris Medford High School Representative
  • Anthony Geehan Member Coordinator Medford Teachers Association

The Medford Teachers Association’s response to the city’s declaration of a collective bargaining impasse:

The Medford Teachers Association is extremely disappointed by the decision of the Medford School Committee to unilaterally decide that negotiations had reached an impasse. Despite numerous public requests to attend, NO elected member of the school committee has ever attended a negotiation session. This union has worked diligently over the past 10 months to negotiate for an equitable contract on behalf of the city’s teachers. The MTA has negotiated respectfully and within the terms agreed to at the beginning of negotiations. Our negotiations team believed that we were close to an agreement when this impasse was declared publicly with less than an hour’s notice to our negotiation team. 

Compensation

Highlighted in the city’s public letter were details about their recent Cost Of Living Adjustment offer of 7.25% over 3 years – a clear increase over their initial offer of 3.75%. This offer does reflect movement, however it does not keep pace with recent inflation. According to official US government data, since our previous contract began in 2018 inflation has raised cost of living 17.4% and continued high inflation is expected over the life of this contract Contracts are traditionally negotiated every three years and the negotiated COLA raises are projections of where the cost of living will be at the end of that three year period. While the district boasts “9.2% total pay increase” this information is misleading as it is attached to one-time federally funded bonuses that do not increase base pay or count towards retirement.  

Respect for Teachers

Contract negotiations are greater in their scope than just compensation adjustment. Both sides can bring to negotiations requests for updated policies and contract language changes. Some of the requests brought to negotiations by the Medford Teachers Association included establishing specific student-to-teacher ratios for classes of newcomers and modernizing our family leave policy. 

A high priority of the MTA was to decrease class sizes for English Learner/ newcomer classes as well as to provide needed resources and personnel to special education and inclusion classes to meet the needs of Medford’s very diverse student population. Through these negotiations progress has been made on these two issues, and MTA is disappointed that the claimed impasse has delayed these improvements for our students.    

While the state of Massacchuettes has brought paid family leave to all those employed in the Commonwealth, local public employees are exempt from this benefit. Since our policies were negotiated decades ago, social norms have shifted. The Medford Teachers Association has asked for a modern policy that keeps track with the rest of the state. The district rejected a modernization of this policy outright. 

We were disheartened with the district’s claim that the MTA “ attempted to disrupt the district’s welcome-back reception and convocation on August 30th.” The educators simply gathered for a union-provided breakfast, as we do every year, and walked into the assembly together as a show of solidarity. It is unfortunate that the district sees our unity as a disruption.  

Difficult Negotiations 

The Medford Teachers Association negotiating team has had to work hard through negotiations to protect educators and ensure that inflation does not reduce our paychecks’ buying power. This has been done with the full and transparent support of the educators of Medford. Despite the difficulty of this work, the MTA would like to continue to negotiate and urge the school committee to come to the table. The school committee has shown a complete lack of respect for Medford educators by never attending a negotiating meeting, and yet they act as if they have the knowledge to declare an impasse. This is simply irresponsible

We ask for support through this process from the Medford community and for the recognition that every single Medford teacher continues to bring their best to the students of Medford every day for their educational, social, and emotional growth.  

Respectfully,

Medford Teacher’s Negotiating Team

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