Westford Education Association president Jason Humphrey has announced his organization is in the process of filing an unfair labor practice claim with the state due to a dispute over steps within the WEA's Unit E collective bargaining agreement, which addresses most of the town's teaching assistants.
Much like an earlier dispute between the WEA and the School Committee that was resolved in June 2012, Unit E members have been working under a contract that expired last year.
"The issue for me isn't that the contract expired, contracts expire in the industry, that's not unusual," said Humphrey, an English teacher at Westford Academy. "What's unusual is not to give people credit for their steps based on the old salary tables, to give people credit for a year of their employment."
Humphrey added that it was unclear if time not accrued to Unit E members in their steps during the lapsed contract would be given back following negotiations.
Superintendent Bill Olsen says the main issue is the fact that several members of the Unit E negotiation team left the district, delaying the beginning of renegotiation of the contract.
"There's no ill will at all, both parties just need to sit down," said Olsen. "We're eager to negotiation, we've worked for many years to build strong trusting relations with our bargaining units and I hope that can continue."
The School Committee was able to come to terms on a new deal with Unit A and G of the WEA in January.