The president of the local teachers union wrote a to the membership this week saying the union is being criticized unfairly for refusing to make concessions.
The union has rejected the Board of Education’s offer of a buyout incentive for senior teachers coupled with a wage freeze. The freeze would have rolled back a 2.65 percent pay increase and a 2 percent step increase for eligible teachers that was awarded for the 2011-12 fiscal year, the third year of a three-year contract.
In his letter to 350 members of the Farmington Education Association, Mark DiBiasio wrote "The offer was a buyout for senior teachers if and only if we committed to a total wage freeze for all teachers. This was not acceptable. No other deal was offered to the teachers. We made alternative suggestions that were rejected."
But Board of Education Chairman Mary Grace Reed and the negotiation team said the union never offered a counter-offer.
DiBiasio said that what he meant by “alternative suggestions” was that the union had offered to open the contract and renegotiate, just a few days before the board was scheduled to set its budget.
But the school negotiating team said no specific concessions were offered and attempts to follow up with DiBiasio went nowhere. An open-ended contract negotiation, with no goals in mind was not feasible by the time the budget was almost final, Reed said.
“Contract negotiations take months,” she said. The teachers’ contract negotiations usually last from July to October.
Still, though the Town Council has set its budget, with $494,000 in cuts to the proposed education budget, according to Reed it’s not too late and if the union does have suggestions, the board's willing to hear them.
On Friday in a from the Board of Education Reed said, "The Board remains ready and willing, as they have for the last 3 budget years, to engage in concession discussions at any time.”