Killingly Paras Ask for Support In Contract Fight

For Immediate Release
New Britain, CT, Oct. 13, 2017 – Concerned by the costly stonewalling of the Board of Education, the union representing 125 Killingly school paraprofessionals is asking the Town Council and the community to help them reach a contract settlement with the Board of Education.

Members of AFSCME Local 3689 recently turned out for the Oct. 10 Town Council 4 meeting. Paraprofessionals asked Councilors to help solve another contract stalemate similar to the one that took place two years ago.

Courtney Poirier, a paraprofessional at Killingly Central School, was among those who addressed the Council. “The town needs to know the paras here are an important piece of the puzzle that makes the Killingly school system work,” she said. “Unfortunately, we are once again having difficulty reaching a fair and reasonable contract settlement.”

“The important work we do is worth a modest raise, not to mention decent and affordable health care,” Poirier added.

Contract negotiations reached impasse, and are now in binding arbitration. The sides are free to discuss negotiations in public when impasse is reached. The Board of Education is looking to cut hourly wages and impose a more expensive health plan.

Julie Stone, a paraprofessional at Killingly Intermediate School, told town councilors she is making $17,000 a year after 24 years of service.

“I love my job. But the demands on us now are much greater than when we first started. There’s so much more to our work. We are lowest paid workers in the school system. We’re critical to successful outcomes for the kids. We are people not numbers. We need respect and deserve it.”

Stone also told the Council she has Type 1 diabetes, and controls it with medication that is affordable under the current health insurance plan.

“A high deductible health plan would crush my family,” she said, “and actually prove to be more expensive for Killingly taxpayers.”

Two years ago, the Board of Education forced negotiations into binding arbitration, but the sides eventually reached a settlement. The union pointed out that the Board continues to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars on legal costs instead of working toward a mutually agreeable settlement.

Poirier summed it up for the Town Council: “The bottom line for me as a parent, as a resident and as a taxpayer, is that Killingly can – and must – invest in our children who benefit inside and outside of our schools due to the hard work of our paraprofessionals.”