Support staff union: ‘We’ve done our part’

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NAUGATUCK — A union representing non-certified school staff says it is has done its part to help the school system make up a projected $2 million budget deficit.

The union representing secretaries, custodians, paraprofessionals, maintenance employees and cafeteria workers has agreed to take a wage freeze this year, the third time in 10 years that the union has agreed to work a year with no pay increases.

The union, which was negotiating a three-year contract with the Board of Education for more than a year, will get a 3 percent retroactive raise for 2008-09; no raise this school year; a 1.5 percent bump from July 2010 to January 2011; and another 1.5 percent increase from January to June in 2011.

The net cost of the wage increases to the borough will be $344,228 over the life of the pact.

In exchange for no pay increase this year, the school board agreed to not lay off any of the union’s roughly 250 employees for this school year. And the board agreed to pay part-timers at the same hourly rate as full-time employees.

“The zero was really hard for the members to take again,” said union President Sarah Poynton, a paraprofessional at City Hill Middle School. “But the board was already showing signs of stress in its budget and was pushing for new health care. It was either take the zero or forfeit jobs and our current health care, which were obviously very important to our members.”

The following is a look at what employees will be paid:

Wages for cafeteria workers will go from $14.23 an hour to $14.65 an hour by the end of the contract.

Wages for general custodians will go from $18.87 an hour to $19.43 an hour by 2011.

Wages for a first-step secretary will go from $16.11 an hour to $16.59 an hour by the end of the contract.

Wages for classroom paraprofessionals will go from $11.41 an hour to $11.75 an hour by 2011.

Some members of the union will earn higher wages if they have more time in the school district or have reached a higher status, such as head cook, head custodian or a secretary at a higher step.