Auburn teachers give silent protest over labor agreement

AUBURN — Holding signs that read "Educators care," "Settle Now" and "Keep Our Quality Schools," Auburn teachers showed up at Wednesday night's School Committee meeting in silent protest.

Bonnie Washuk/Sun Journal

For about two years, the teachers' union and the School Committee have not agreed on a labor contract.

It was standing-room only as the teachers filled the meeting room. Outside the room, union President Timothy Wegmann explained why teachers were there.

"We really feel we've given some major concessions, particularly in the health insurance," he said. "We're disappointed in terms of being heard, how we're being treated. We're looking for protection from extra work."

The union is objecting to broad policy language that would mean teachers work more hours for no more pay, said Wegmann of the Auburn Education Association.

On health care, to eventually save taxpayers money, the school department offered to pay 100 percent of health care premiums for teachers and their children, but to no longer pay for premiums of teachers' spouses, arguing many can get health care from their employers.

That would have saved $800,000, money that would be spent on higher teacher salaries.

The union rejected that, saying health care for spouses is important and too many families would be hurt.

Last month, the union made a major concession, tentatively agreeing to pay more of spouses' health care, Wegmann said.

Taxpayers now pay 90 percent of spouses' premiums. The union offered to pay 20 percent for spouses and taxpayers would pay 80 percent. "That's a 100 percent increase," Wegmann said.

Teachers would pay 7 percent of health care for themselves and their children, and taxpayers would pay 93 percent. However, those percentages would not apply to spouses who could get health care from their employers but don't. They would pay 30 percent of the spousal share.

That would save Auburn taxpayers close to $400,000, Wegmann said. That savings would not be put back into teachers' salaries.

Teachers realize times are difficult, Wegmann said, "but we feel we're being asked to make all the concessions. The state doesn't want to fund. The City Council doesn't want to fund. The School Committee is looking to support their programs through our salary and benefit concessions."

School Committee member Tom Kendall, who is part of the negotiations team for the school department, told teachers he has great respect for them. They're on the front line. "We don't lose sight of that," Kendall said.

The school department's early offer was not to save money, but to insulate the city from future insurance premiums, Kendall said. "The spouse does not provide a service to the community. We were turning $800,000 back into salaries."

As the economy "keeps going south, every day the union doesn't accept the offer, we cannot improve our offer. The money keeps disappearing," he said.

He said union leadership was not sharing information with teachers.

"Leadership is not taking our sincere proposals back to the membership for feedback. They're just making decisions themselves," Kendall said. "I don't think leadership informed them about our original proposals. I still find it incredulous they did not take it to their membership."

Wegmann disagreed, saying union members are kept informed. He has gone to every school to update teachers, Wegmann said. "We've offered (Kendall) the opportunity to address members."

bwashuk@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

Ted - do they make less than

Ted - do they make less than Lewiston when salary and benefits are combined? If so, why do they stay at Auburn? What is the turnover rate? Has Auburn had difficulty in attracting new teachers?

The city is changing the package because health care premiums have skyrocketed! There's a limit to what we can afford to pay. The state will continue to reduce funding, and we cannot be complacent.

Teachers work hard and I respect them. I also respect the other people in the community that also work hard and are having a difficult time paying their taxes. Many of them make less money and have far less lucrative benefits, if they have benefits at all. These are the same people paying the teachers salaries and benefit compensation package. It's a shame that the unions have such a stranglehold on public education. They continually fight real innovations that could take place, and value longevity over teacher performance.

 's picture

Amen Bro...

Amen Bro...

 's picture

To the teachers out

To the teachers out there!
Keep holding on and ignore the negative posts in here.

 's picture

Your husband is fortunate,

Your husband is fortunate, and should not be used for comparison purposes. It's a dog eat dog world out here in the real world.

 's picture

The comparison is viable and

The comparison is viable and she has made her point clear and you make yours clear day by day. You home school children so why not keep your mouth shut and let the future educators and teachers speak okay?

Joseph Ziehm
Lewiston, ME
"Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a master in heaven. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;" Colossians 4: 1-2

 's picture

Classy. A point of

Classy.

A point of correction. I don't home school. My child attends Auburn public schools.

 's picture

That comment paraphrased

That comment paraphrased Mali and what teachers make I do apologize for being brutal but it is rather funny to listen to these self-professed advocates of education talk when they have no real idea of what is really going on. We make curricula for students, bringing back lesson plans, and shaping the educational format of American today. Studying Luther, Piaget, and Skinner and here everyone sits not even knowing just assuming what it is that teachers do. I maybe verbal and brutal but it is interesting to see what parents think and how little respect they can have behind a teacher's back when they would not say it to their faces. Out of respect that would be the ground score common rule right there.

Joseph Ziehm
Lewiston, ME
"Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a master in heaven. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;" Colossians 4: 1-2

 's picture

Hard to imagine why future

Hard to imagine why future educators fight for so much in a world full of moronic parents not even worth the effort when they cannot teach their children right, wrong, and respect for what teachers have gone through and done. All I see is a bunch of worthless information aimed at dragging teachers done long hallways simply I do not feel much sympathy for moronic parents but I do for their children which is why I aim to be one of the best educators I can be. The economy is in turmoil and people gripe about those who are teaching their children to be better and make it better I stick my middle finger up because I make a difference what do the rest of you make?

Joseph Ziehm
Lewiston, ME
"Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a master in heaven. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;" Colossians 4: 1-2

 's picture

Sperkle pull that thinking

Sperkle pull that thinking head out of your rear-end we attend workshops to learn more about LD's, to interact better with students, to plan on our State of Maine early learning guidelines, and what perks are there? We work hard for it we do the teaching for children, those meetings, those little vacations are not vacations, my teachers told me they had staycations when more LD's were classified and discovered to discern and learn more information. Let me tell you something we are not whiners we work as hard as we can for children and we push them to make it in this world. What do you know about RAD, what do you know about ODD, and what do you know about what teachers do outside of their professions? There are a lot of teachers who work second jobs to try and keep their heads above water pardon me, but an ignorant moron is still an ignorant moron.

Joseph Ziehm
Lewiston, ME
"Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a master in heaven. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;" Colossians 4: 1-2

RONALD RIML's picture

If this isn't an argument

If this isn't an argument for a 'National Single Payer" system for health care, such as MediCare for All - I don't know what is.......

------------------------------------------
When I was a young Sailor - I drank like a Sailor, fought like a Sailor, and screwed like a Sailor. Now that I am old and wise - I have a few scars, but many fond memories.

 's picture

They also have 27 1/2 day

They also have 27 1/2 day Wednesdays.

That said, I'm sure teachers work beyond school hours. So do a lot of the rest of us. It goes with the territory.

 's picture

I stand corrected. One half

I stand corrected. One half of Auburn teachers have half-day Wednesdays.

 's picture

MomOfTwo, you show your

MomOfTwo, you show your ignorance when you say that workshop days are days off. If they were days off they would not be called WORKshop days. And when there are snow days, extra days are tacked on to the end of the school year to make up for those days off. You sound very bitter; I hope your two kids aren't as negative as you are toward those with whom they spend the majority of their day - teachers. Actually, I hope they are home schooled. Negativity breeds negativity.

RONALD RIML's picture

reality11 I reckon if the

reality11

I reckon if the job were THAT unbearable, your wife would have voted with her feet a long time ago, and found another gig elsewhere.....

------------------------------------------
When I was a young Sailor - I drank like a Sailor, fought like a Sailor, and screwed like a Sailor. Now that I am old and wise - I have a few scars, but many fond memories.

 's picture

Thank your teachers union

Thank your teachers union for a draconian compensation system that values longevity, not performance.

 's picture

I'm assuming you have an

I'm assuming you have an English degree. In 2007, the average starting salary for an English Major was $32,553.

http://money.cnn.com/2007/07/11/pf/college/starting_salaries/index.htm

 's picture

I don't care about typical.

I don't care about typical. What is the Auburn pay scale?

 's picture

It's public information. In

It's public information. In fact, I can look it up at maineopengov.org.

I really don't care what the 'district' pays - I pay either way. I'm assuming then, that you make 30k. More than your initial estimates.

 's picture

Maybe you can show them the

Maybe you can show them the ropes?
______________________

"A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

 's picture

How about this for a

How about this for a compromise? Have the city pay 80% of all insurance benefits. (employee, spouse, kids)

 's picture

duplicate.

duplicate.

 's picture

Time to find a new job.l

Time to find a new job.l

 's picture

The unions "concession" is

The unions "concession" is to increase spousal insurance contributions from 10% to 20%? Give me a break. That doesn't pass the straight face test. Many of us in the real world contribute 20% for ALL our insurance.

DANNY FITZSIMMONS's picture

they are payed quite

they are payed quite reasonably for the amount of hours they work and have an insurance that for an individual far exceeds those of the public paying the bill and they want thier kids, and spouces (oh yeah then theres the gay marriage guess that will increase the cost by tens of thousands wont it???? Didnt think of that uh!!!) STOP THIS INSANE ACT NOW then agin we can vote it all away in a referandum right so they are left like the rest of us WORKING people CO-PAYS AND DEDUCTABLES $$$$$

The teachers, and their

The teachers, and their Union must exist in a fish bowl ,not recognizing the economic turmoil, that the world around them is in; Social Security recipients are not receiving any colaincrease this year, they should look around and be grateful that they have jobs with benefits !

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