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Union: Dispute Over New Teachers' Contract Headed for Mediation

A marathon 16-hour negotiation session failed to produce a new agreement.

After a last-ditch, marathon negotiation session by Boston school and union leaders failed to produce an agreement regarding a new teachers’ contract, the dispute is now headed to mediation.

A state mediator will now step in to help resolve the dispute, according to the Boston Globe.

For the past 21 months, the Boston School Department and teachers’ union have been haggling over a new contract, and this latest breakdown in negotiations comes nearly a week after the , and were set to seek intervention from a state mediator. The two sides decided to return to the table for one more round of last-ditch talks before seeking outside help, however, but after 16-hours of negotiation the talks broke down again.

According to the Globe, the School Department issued a newsletter to parents and community members stating that the union was seeking a $189 million pay package for teachers, while the School Department was offering a $124 million package.

The two sides were seeking to create a five-year contract for teachers—more than what the two sides originally sought, said the Globe. The School Department initially wanted a four-year agreement, while the union was pushing for a three-year agreement.

“We are all sorry that the bargain could not be worked out,” said teachers’ union president Richard Stutman in the Globe article, stating that the School Department’s offer was unacceptable.

For her part, Superintendent Carol R. Johnson pointed the finger at the union.

“What is most unfortunate is that instead of working on developing a contract that would benefit our students and our teachers, giving them both the time and supports they need to be successful, the [union] squandered away this opportunity by continuing to make unreasonable and irresponsible financial demands,” Johnson said in a statement.

The talks ended at 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

The School Department was pushing for teachers at all 125 Boston schools to work an extra 30 minutes a day, but without offering additional compensation beyond an annual salary increase, according to the Globe. By the end of talks, the School Department was willing to offer some additional pay and looking for teachers at elementary, middle and K-8 schools to work an extra 45 minutes per day.

According to Stutman’s bulletin, the School Department was offering teachers an additional $13.89 per day for the extra work. According to the Globe, teachers earn an average of $41.03 an hour.

“We could not accept this, and in fact are insulted that the department places such a low value on our value and expertise,” Stutman wrote.

According to Stutman, the mediation process could take several years.

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