WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Unionized Westfield teachers have been working without a contract since the school year started, more than two weeks ago.
The say that the new contract does not offer a big enough raise, so until the money issue is resolved, teachers say they will work less.
Cara Ingraham, a teacher in Westfield, told 22News, “You'll see full parking lots until 4, 5 o’clock in the afternoon. We are at the schools sometimes an hour, hour and a half, sometimes two hours before to make sure that we are set up.”
The unionized teachers of the Westfield Public Schools say that they normally work extra hours, but with no overtime pay.
They told 22News that they used to get a 3% raise every year, but the last time that happened was 8 years ago. The latest offer is a half percent increase this year, and one percent next year.
According to Lori Hovey, President of the Westfield Education Association, “When they are not compensated adequately, yet their taxes go up every year, there's going to be a break point. You can't keep raising someone's taxes and not giving them the cost of living increase at all.”
The contract negotiations between the Westfield School Committee and the Westfield Education Association began about six months ago.
They have not agreed on the new salary.
The Westfield School Committee is discussing their next steps in executive sessions. They met Monday evening behind closed doors, but they could not comment on exactly what was discussed.
Meanwhile, teachers started the school year without a new contract, and until there is a solution, they have vowed to "work to rule;" to only do what they're required during school hours, and nothing extra.
In the coming months, teachers and the School Committee are expected to sit down with a mediator.
The School Committee will hold another executive session to discuss the contracts next month, which will be just before their next regular meeting, scheduled for October 7th.