Members of the Bristol County Agricultural High School Support Association are taking their fight for a fair contract public.
On June 12, members of the association and their supporters lined Center Street in Dighton outside of the high school’s Board of Trustees meeting and staged an hour-long demonstration spurred by the board’s unwillingness to engage in meaningful negotiations even though the employees have been without a new contract for approximately one year.
Frank Durant, a candidate for Bristol County Commissioner, joined the demonstration
Frank Durant said, “I’m here to support Labor.”
“I want to make sure that the rumor going around that there is attempting to eliminate the union and to privatize these positions is nothing but a rumor. I do not want to see 25 local hired positions outsourced to an out of area worker at the lowest cost.”
“Having served on the Attleboro School Committe, I served on two bargaining committees for contract negotiations. Both talks lasted less than a few months with both sides getting what they wanted. It’s called compromise. I hope to see a Win / Win for both the Workers and the School.”
Keith LePage, president Bristol County Agricultural High School Support Staff Association, issued the following statement:
It is unfortunate that we need to demonstrate like this just to get our voices heard. But we will be heard.
The members of the Bristol County Agricultural High School Support Staff Association have been without a contract for nearly a year now and have been negotiating in good faith since last April.
We all care deeply about the success of the students who attend the high school and are dedicated to our jobs.
Every member of our association gives 100 % to the school and is proud to fulfill a unique role in the public school system. Coming out here to protest is one of the toughest decisions we have had to make. We prefer to feel like partners sharing in the school’s success. We are truly grateful for all the support the public has shown us.
We have tried working with the board of trustees to settle a contract. We have been willing accept some of their proposals, and expected that the board would accept some of our proposals. Yet, this board has been unwilling to agree to any of the terms that we have proposed. We feel throughout this whole process that the board members have tried dictating instead of negotiating with us, and this is very frustrating.
We are just standing up for what we believe in, and we believe in what we are standing up for. We are looking for a fair contract so we can get past this and focus on our jobs. We no longer want this hanging over our heads.
What the trustees have offered so far amounts to a complete insult to us, especially when other county employee contracts are being settled with wage increases that are nearly double the increases offered to us. All we are asking for is fair compensation that reflects the true value of our work.
We believe that the trustees can make a proper investment in our work. The economy in Bristol County has grown by 3.5 % since last year and is going strong.
The trustees had budgeted more than what we were asking for. Additionally, the trustees have saved money by not hiring a superintendent right away. A facilities manager spot was vacant for six months, and a carpenter foreman opening was vacant for two months. So on top of what the trustees budgeted, they have saved even more money in salaries this year.
We welcome the support of Frank Durant who is running for county commissioner. Standing with us shows that he understands the value of the work that we do and the importance of properly investing in the high school.
We see no justification for how the trustees are treating us. I sure hope they are not going to blame this on the last superintendent since he has been gone for almost a year now. We reset the table not long after his departure. The blame for this stalemate falls on the individuals who are refusing to work with us, and they need to take responsibility for their actions.