Teachers call off picketing as contract nears approval.Byline: Paula J. Owen
ASHBURNHAM - Teachers in the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District are backing off, putting down their picket signs and taking off their "Fair Contract Now" badges, with both sides finally reaching a tentative agreement on a contract.
"We made a lot of progress Monday night," David A. LaRoche, vice president of negotiations for the Ashburnham-Westminster Teachers' Association and the athletic director Athletic director (commonly, "athletics director") is a position at many American colleges and universities, as well as in larger high schools and middle schools, which oversees the work of the coaches and related staff involved in intercollegiate or interscholastic athletic at Oakmont Regional High School Oakmont Regional High School is a public high school in New England, located in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. Its students come from both Ashburnham and neighboring Westminster which together comprise the regional School District. The superintendent of the district is Dr. , said yesterday. "It is close. The details are being ironed out tonight in executive session with the school committee."
Mr. LaRoche said a statement will be issued today regarding final negotiations.
Negotiations started in January 2007 and teachers have been working without a contract since July 1. Historically, contract agreements have gone smoothly, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. school officials.
To rally community support, teachers in the district wore badges and stood outside of schools in the district with signs. They also wore green shirts to work on Wednesdays, said Mr. LaRoche.
"We've backed off on any kind of actions," Mr. LaRoche said.
Both sides brought in help for negotiations. In June, the school committee brought in two state-appointed mediators, according to Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School Committee Chairman David M. Christianson Jr., after the Massachusetts Teachers Association appointed a union representative to aid in negotiations on behalf of the local union.
"The mediators were brought in because of specific issues dealing with the MTA (1) (Message Transfer Agent or Mail Transfer Agent) The store and forward part of a messaging system. See messaging system.
(2) See M Technology Association.
1. (messaging) MTA - Message Transfer Agent. representative," Mr. Christianson said. "The good news is over the last two meetings, we met with teachers face to face and things went extremely well."
Mr. Christianson said the mediators and MTA representative were not involved in the negotiations Monday night at Overlook Middle School. The talks started at 4 p.m. and continued after 11 p.m.
"We made excellent progress and I think the end is in sight," he said. "I think we will have a settlement in a week or two."
Officials said they cannot comment on details of the contract or talk about which issues caused negotiations to drag on Verb 1. drag on - last unnecessarily long
last, endure - persist for a specified period of time; "The bad weather lasted for three days"
2. for 14 months. However, Mr. Christianson said "finances and history" played a part.
Budget shortfalls totaled $1.2 million last year, requiring the layoff Layoff
1. When a company eliminates jobs regardless of how good the employees' performance. 2. A risk reduction, made by investment bankers, that minimizes the potential downside associated with a commitment to purchase and sell a stock issue unsubscribed by stockholders holding of 15 teachers and the loss of 32 positions, and there is an anticipated $900,000 shortfall in the coming budget cycle. The superintendent and school committee are looking at asking voters to pass a Proposition 2-1/2 tax cap override An arrangement whereby commissions are made by sales managers based upon the sales made by their subordinate sales representatives. A term found in an agreement between a real estate agent and a property owner whereby the agent keeps the right to receive a commission for the sale of to close the gap.
"It is history and financial constraints," Mr. Christianson said. "But we cannot place the balanced budget Balanced budget
A budget in which the income equals expenditure. See: budget.
A budget in which the expenditures incurred during a given period are matched by revenues. issue on the backs of one group or another. Our issue is affordability and we try to do as much as we possibly can for teachers in the realms of what we can do."
Mr. Christianson said the stop to picketing picketing, act of patrolling a place of work affected by a strike in order to discourage its patronage, to make public the workers' grievances, and in some cases to prevent strikebreakers from taking the strikers' jobs. Picketing may be by individuals or by groups. was another benefit of nearing a resolution.
"It is confusing con·fuse
v. con·fused, con·fus·ing, con·fus·es
a. To cause to be unable to think with clarity or act with intelligence or understanding; throw off.
b. for the kids," he said. "As an adult I understand it as part of the process and part of their approach to labor relations, but it is not something I would participate in."
"We just want to get a good contract in place, get this one behind us and move forward," he said. "We have a great bunch of teachers that shows in the results in the classrooms."