LETTER: BOS Chair Disappointed with WEA's Position

The following is a letter to the editor. To send your own letter to the editor, e-mail us at westford@patch.com

The Board of Selectmen is disappointed that negotiations between the School Committee and the WEA (teachers’ union) have broken down. The Board remains supportive of the School Committee’s resolve to protect jobs and to preserve educational programming.

The Board is disheartened by the WEA’s apparent unwillingness to appreciate these difficult fiscal times. The WEA continues to demand two years of step increases for teachers. It has rejected multiple counterproposals offered by the School Committee.

And, it is their refusal to move off this demand that has led to the current impasse.

Simply put, the WEA’s uncompromising demand that teachers receive two years of step increases is not possible given the Town’s current financial resources without significantly impacting programs and services.

The WEA’s demand also goes well beyond agreements reached with other Town unions.

The Town has settled five union contracts. Each of these unions, recognizing the
difficult fiscal times the Town is operating in, agreed to no cost of living increase for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 and no step increases in fiscal year 2012.

In a show of good faith to those unions who agreed to forego step increases this year, the Town agreed to a re-opener provision that may be triggered if the Town negotiates base wage increases for fiscal years 2012 or 2013 with any other Town union.

If the Town had to fund such increases, it would have to lay off employees, cut services and eliminate programs.

The Board also must correct recent misrepresentations made by the President of the WEA. Contrary to her statement that the teachers have accepted “major concessions” in health care benefits, the recent switch by the Town from Blue Cross/Blue Shield to Tufts Health Care has resulted in employee savings of $275 to $925 in premiums depending upon the particular health insurance program an employee chooses while maintaining current benefit levels. Retirees save $1500 in their premiums and a wider scope of benefits is available to them. Notably, the co-pay for office visits has stayed at $5.00!

The WEA has stated that it remains open to mediation. The Board hopes that after a cooling off period, negotiations can resume. We value our teachers and their dedication and commitment to Westford’s students. We recognize the time and effort they put in to educating our children. We hope that a fair contract can be reached within the bounds of the Town’s fiscal resources.

Andrea Peraner-Sweet
Chair, Board of Selectmen

Tony Martinez February 10, 2012 at 10:16 PM
We should keep our proud tradition of stretching the buck further than its gone before. lets face it we are cheap here and like to get Groton quality public services for Ayer like funding. As a tax payer I think it would be great and if we have teachers are scrubbing the school floors and if we have the trash collectors teaching school so be it. Time to feel the Tea Party Power here in westford! Lets pull a Gov Scott Walker on these liberal unions and on Obamadom of the country and take it back for real americans
Sam February 11, 2012 at 01:52 AM
AB February 11, 2012 at 02:17 AM
$760 is about average, although with *much* higher OV/ER and RX co-pays. Me + 3 kids is more, not counting dental (bluecrossma.com). Still not feeling very sorry for their lot in life based on all that.
Alex Finnegan June 07, 2012 at 03:27 AM
"I would like to make a correction to the BOS as far as insurance goes... The only people who had any savings with the health insurance was the retirees. I certainly don't have any more money in my check since the switch of insurances!" And don't forget the town. The two groups that did save money weren't mentioned. So misleading.... You're going to have your trash collectors get a master's degree and teach school and expect to continue to get trash collectors pay? You might want to think through your "recapture America plan" And who exactly are "real americans?"
Alex Finnegan June 07, 2012 at 05:00 AM
"I agree that a few crumbs of bread should be given to the over taxed taxpayers of Westford." Here are the property tax rates town by town for MA. Explain to me how you are overtaxed? https://dlsgateway.dor.state.ma.us/gateway/Public/WebForms/TaxRate/ReportTRApprovalPublic.aspx Your tax rates are within a quarter (+/- a penny) of Tyngsboro, Rutland, West Bridgewater, Athol, Dedham, Northborough, Hudson, Everett, Salem. You pay less % than Groton, Auburn, Littleton, Brockton, Ashland, Leomenster, Lunenburg, Worcester, Townsend, Framingham, Chelmsford, Fitchburg, Maynard, Acton, Springfield. You live in wealthy town with high property values, your tax rates are on par, you can't afford your house. "Maybe put a little back in the parents pockets who are struggling to pay all the FEES in this town!!!!!" I was unaware only parents paid the fees in town. Parents for lack of a better word "sponge" off the 50% of families w/out kids. We pay the same property tax rates, yet don't use the schools. We pay Family rate health insurance that goes into a pool to make insurance for the Parents affordable. Parents benefit the most from the system. If you were being fair, the money should be given back to the people w/out kids. But I think your reasoning is the parents need it the most & that's probably true. But last time I checked Teacher's were parents too, and tax payers, and married but childless, but it's ok to take the money from them? Not chump change either, Thousands?


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