WILMINGTON, MA — At the end of their meeting last week, Wilmington School Committee members and Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand responded to a recent postcard sent to them from the district’s Educational Assistants Union, which stated “It’s That Time Of Year Again. Let’s Get Back To The Bargaining Table.”
Upon receiving the postcard, School Committee Chair Dr. Jennifer Bryson was confused.
“My first thought was — Are they asking to meet and we’re not meeting? I want to clarify that we have been doing, as a team, what we should be doing,” asked School Committee Chair Dr. Jennifer Bryson.
“We worked diligently with a number of bargaining groups last year. We were fortunate to wrap up all the other open contracts,” responded Dr. Brand. “We worked diligently to try to do the same with the Educational Assistants negotiations.”
Brand noted that the School Committee’s negotiation team was willing to continue negotiations through the summer, but the Educational Assistants negotiating team wished to pause. There were no negotiation sessions in July or August.
“We had one negotiation bargaining session here last week. We have another scheduled in a couple of weeks. We’re trying to move things along on your behalf,” added Brand.
Brand noted the the School Committee’s negotiation team has told the Educational Assistants that their advocacy had been heard, their issues are understood, and the Committee values their work.
“Educational Assistants are an immense part of our operations and we could not do the work that we do with students without them,” stressed Brand. “This is a group of 80 individuals. We’re working hard and will continue to work hard on behalf of the School Committee, committed to nothing short of solidifying a fair contract.”
“We’re still at the bargaining table in good faith. It’s been collaborative and we’ve made lot of progress,” concluded Brand.
School Committee member Jesse Fennelly, the Committee’s representative to the negotiation team, agreed that the team is committed to the process and working with the Educational Assistants unit to get an agreement finalized.
“I was of the understanding that we continued to work diligently around this. It’s not that we didn’t want to [negotiate]. We most certainly do,” added School Committee member Melissa Plowman. “I’ve spent my whole entire career advocating for Educational Assistants and paraprofessionals. The Community needs to understand that we 1000% know what Educational Assistants do. Our children are better because of them. We’re very committed to doing what is right and what is fair. Hopefully the community can understand that. It feels pretty terrible to be made to look like we’re so dehumanizing.”
Plowman requested the School Committee receive an update on negotiations in an Executive Session immediately prior to its next meeting on Wednesday, October 12, 2022.
Earlier in the meeting, dozens of Educational Assistant Union members and allies packed the meeting with signs. Several spoke out in favor of the union’s “living wage campaign,” hoping to raise the minimum salary of educational assistants to $30,000. Assistants currently make between $16,000 and $27,000 annually. Learn more HERE.