Amherst educators will be taking their demand to negotiate to the Town Council meeting at Amherst Town Hall on Monday, November 7 at 6:45 PM. Union members will wear red as a symbol of “Red for Ed.”symbolizing the need for local government officials to offer fair negotiations and fair cost of living increases in a time of unprecedented inflation. This action is part of a campaign to raise community awareness that the APEA (Amherst Regional Education Association) is working under an expired contract. The region’s School Committee has not moved from their offer of a 2% cost of living increase, while inflation has topped 8% for months.
The APEA has been engaged in contract negotiations with the Amherst-Pelham School District since Winter 2022, and their 3-year contract expired at the end of June. They continue to operate under the previous contract while negotiating with the District for fair compensation, safe conditions, and sustainable workloads.
On October 12, the APEA bargaining team met, in mediation, with district representatives. The APEA offered to resolve every issue in negotiations instead of mediation. In open negotiations, union members can be present as silent representatives. The School Committee did not have a response or proposals of its own at that meeting.
Danielle Seltzer, Amherst-Pelham Education Association member and high school teacher, emphasizes that the School Committee’s offer of 2% was unacceptable, considering the inflation rate of 8.2%. “We are not just competing with other districts [to retain employees], we are competing with Target and McDonalds,” she says. “What we are asking for is in line with what other unions are asking for, and what some districts–including ones in Western Mass–are settling on.” Educators in other Massachusetts districts such as South Hadley, Malden and Haverhill are facing similar district resistance. Those eastern Mass towns recently voted to strike unless they come to an agreement.