District, teachers reach new agreement
At its meeting December 12, the Williamsville Board of Education unanimously approved funding for a new four-year contract with the Williamsville Teachers Association (WTA). The bargaining unit, which represents nearly 900 teachers, school counselors and other certificated employees, ratified the agreement Monday night with an unprecedented 96 percent of WTA members voting in favor of the pact. The new agreement is effective retroactively, as of September 1, 2017 and expires August 31, 2021. The previous contract expired August 31, 2017.
The new contract comes after eleven months of talks and 17 meetings held between the district and WTA negotiating teams. The salary provision includes an increase of 1.58 percent to the top step of the district’s salary schedule each year of the contract plus $700 added to each step, one through 15, in year one only. Scheduled step increases are based on an employee’s years of experience and credentials.
The WTA also agreed to several provisions that will reduce the district’s health care costs over the term of the contract. Teacher health insurance contributions will increase from 10.5 percent to 11 percent in year one of the contract, and jump to 12.5 percent each of the following three years. Also, the district and the WTA agreed to conduct a joint study on health insurance to explore more affordable options including the possibility of changing healthcare providers. In addition, teachers will get four fewer paid leave days per year and agreed to extend their workday by 25 minutes.
Dr. Scott Martzloff, Superintendent of Schools, said: “We believe it’s a fair settlement for everyone and duly recognizes the hard work of our professional educators who truly are the best in the business. The WTA negotiating team members advocated strongly for their members and always kept the focus on what we need to do together in order to improve outcomes for our students. A welcome atmosphere of renewed collaboration presided throughout the negotiations and the final product benefits our teachers, our students, and our community.”
Michelle Licht, WTA President, said: “This agreement demonstrates the District's recognition that our members work tirelessly every day to provide the best education for our students and it demonstrates our members' willingness to do what they can to ensure the financial stability of our district. It is thanks to everyone involved that we were able to reach a fair agreement, which we can all support.”
Sam Campanelli, WTA Vice President of Negotiations, said: “On behalf of our membership, I would like to extend my thanks to the Board of Education and especially Dr. Martzloff and his team. Even though we could not reach an agreement before the expiration of the contract, from the very first day of negotiations to the last, Dr. Martzloff and his team intently and sincerely listened to the concerns of our members. The level of honesty, professionalism, and sincerity expressed in these negotiations was unparalleled in my experience as a negotiator. Both sides left the table feeling that this agreement was beneficial to all parties and we look forward to continuing on this positive path into the future.”