Contracts settlements include higher wages

The months of June and July can be a busy time for collective bargaining agreement  settlements, with many contracts going into effect July 1, the start of the fiscal year.

Members of AFSCME Local 1303-392, representing a group of 45 Litchfield school employees, ratified a two-year contract on June 3, effective July 1, which the Litchfield Board of Education approved at its meeting June 9.

Local 1303-392 includes educational assistants, information technology specialists, secretaries, the network systems manager, custodians, custodial assistants/cleaners, the maintenance technician and school building maintenance technician.

The unit, excluding custodians who negotiated last year, got a 4 percent general wage increase (GWI) for two years. In two years, the whole unit negotiates together again.

Negotiations went smoothly and the contract was negotiated in one session, Staff Representative Tricia Johnson said.

“The unit not only received the 4 percent, but also restructured their time off, added a sick leave bank and kept the insurance the same at the same premium cost share,” she said. “The unit also achieved payment for snow days, delayed opening and early dismissals as well as pay for paras that cover for classroom teachers.”

In July, Council 4 AFSCME settled contracts with GWIs for five locals in three towns.

West Hartford school custodians in Local 1303-39 and school maintenance workers in Local 1303-61 both settled five-year contracts July 5. The contracts went into effect July 1.

“Union members in these bargaining units overwhelmingly ratified the tentative agreements,” said Council 4 Staff Representative Travis Cromack, who works with both locals.

The custodians’ local, which includes part-time custodians and just over 100 members, won a 3 percent GWI for the next three years and a 2.5 percent GWI for the two following years, plus step increases for all years in the contract.

The maintenance local, a smaller group of 20 members, won a 3 percent GWI for all five years.

The union also obtained substantial wage increases for full-time and part-time employees over the course of the new contract. 

“These employees received substantial increases due to how low they were previously paid,” Cromack said.

Under the old pay schedule, workers were only receiving a 2.25 percent GWI. Under the new contract, Step 1 employees will receive a pay increase of 16.78 percent. Step 2 will receive a 14.94 percent increase and Step 3 will receive a 14.76 percent increase.

Members will continue to participate in the CT Partnership Plan 2.0 for health insurance, and the union kept the premium cost share to a minimal increase for bargaining unit members over the five-year period, Cromack said. 

The Partnership Plan saves municipalities money while providing employees with more substantial benefits by allowing cities and towns to join the state in purchasing health benefits.

Cromack also advocates for the 30 members of Local 1303-56, covering Plainville Department of Public Works employees, and the 25 members of 1303-472, covering Plainville Town Hall, library and emergency dispatch employees.

The members settled a three-year contract July 5 with a 3 percent GWI for the next three years. The contract went into effect July 1 and expires June 30, 2025.

Finally, North Haven Town Supervisors in Local 818-10, a group of about 20 members, won a retroactive GWI of 2.5 percent after working two years without a contract. The new contract is retroactive from July 1, 2020, and expires in 2024.

Staff Representative Kelly Rommel said that the members are satisfied with the contract, and that she believes it’s a fair settlement.

These settlements happen because Council 4’s skilled staff representatives work hard alongside local leadership to ensure contracts include better wages and benefits for members.

Solidarity means we’re there through tough times and great victories, like those noted above. That’s the union difference.