Facing strong headwinds rooted in historic underfunding, teachers in the Consolidated School District of New Britain (CSDNB) last fall reached agreement with their employer on a successor three-year contract. Our affiliated local union’s negotiating committee secured the settlement after “last, best offers” had been exchanged and initial arbitration hearings were scheduled, demonstrating that a mutual resolution is always possible.
“Much-needed state resources certainly put us in a better negotiating position this time around,” said Sal Escobales (left, in photo above, with committee members last October), who then served as president of our New Britain Federation of Teachers. “That provided some protection last summer when we walked into negotiations with the board of education (BOE). Out of the gate, local officials wanted numerous concessions that other districts have imposed on their employees,” added Escobales, CSDNB’s recruitment and placement specialist.
Working with legal counsel from the office of Ferguson, Doyle and Chester, Escobales and his negotiating committee colleagues prevented economic givebacks and held off adverse changes to working conditions. They additionally succeeded in making significant gains on both fronts.
“This is the first time in over a decade that we’ve won simultaneous general wage and step increases in every year of a contract,” said Escobales. “A lot of that was our negotiating; but it also reflects a tough recruiting and retention environment that district leaders understand they have to do something about.”
Years of flat-funding by the state, combined with cuts by municipal officials, left local schools near the bottom of the economic scale compared to those in comparably-sized cities. Our negotiating team’s efforts were buoyed by a biennial budget signed last spring by the governor that provides New Britain with two consecutive annual Education Cost Sharing (ECS) increases.
“We’re very proud to stand by this new agreement; it benefits every one of our members at every step of the salary scale,” added Escobales.
Additional contract wins include a more progressive child-rearing paid leave benefit and increased hourly rates for members taking on additional roles within the district. The new three-year contract, set to take effect July 1, also establishes new student caps and caseloads for PreK educators and pupil services specialists.
Members in mid October overwhelmingly voted in favor of the tentative agreement. Local BOE officials approved the new contract at their meeting the following month.
for our announcement of final school board approval of the agreement.
Seven additional affiliates’ collective bargaining victories have been announced since our previous quarterly report last October. At press time, five recent settlements and three arbitration awards have not yet been announced or are awaiting final action.
for our American School for the Deaf (ASD) Federation of Teachers’ new contract announcement.
for photos of our Bristol Federation of Teachers’ negotiating committee announcing their recent win.
for the announcement of our Canton Federation of Education Personnel’s contract victory.
for the announcement of our state employee local unions’ telework assignment arbitration award.
for photos of our VNASC union’s members voting to ratify their new contract.
for the announcement of our Windham Federation of Teachers’ members new agreement.
for our Windham Federation of School Nurses’ contract approval announcement.
Thirty-three local unions in the meantime are engaged in negotiations with their employers on successor contracts or arbitration hearings after reaching impasse.