Negotiations: All In for APS Students
School Department Employee Unions
- Andover Education Association
- Andover Administrators Association
- Andover Food Service
- Andover Custodians
- APS employs over 600 Unit A members
- The average salary for an APS teacher in the 2023-2024 school year is $91,993
- Steps (annual salary increases based on an agreed-upon salary table in the CBA) equal $818,456 or an annual 1.47% increase to salary costs.
- Approximately 41% of Unit A employees (246.55 FTE) are on steps 1-14 and receive an average annual step increase of $3,319.63
- Track changes (annual salary increases based on education level) total an average $236,000 annually.
- Unit A members receive other employment benefits including paid sick leave, paid personal leave, tuition reimbursement, health and dental insurance, and longevity pay.
- APS employs over 230 Unit B members
- Also referred to as the Andover Assistants Organization or Instructional Assistants (IAs).
- Minimum qualifications to be an IA include: Two years of college or an equivalent of two years’ experience working with children, ability to understand student curriculum and to implement multiple teacher-directed activities, and ability to use computers, including the application of classroom and adaptive technologies.
- IAs work 7 hours per day for either 182 or 184 days per year, which is 1,274 or 1,288 hours per year. The average hourly pay rate for APS IAs was $24.36 per hour in 2022-2023.
- IAs who work more than 20 hours per week are eligible for health insurance benefits while employed by Andover Public Schools. IAs are also eligible for retirement after 10 years in Andover, earning both a pension and health insurance as post-employment benefits from the Andover Contributory Retirement System.
One of the School Committee’s responsibilities is the negotiation of Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) with the district’s unionized employees. APS has six collective bargaining units with which the Committee negotiates contracts.
The Andover Administrators Association (AAA-Unit B).
The Andover Education Association (AEA – Unit A)
The Andover Assistants Organization (AEA – Unit B)
The Andover Educational Secretaries Association (AEA - Unit C)
The Service Employees International Union Local 888 - School Custodians
The Service Employees International Union Local 888 - Andover School Food Service
Typically, agreements have a term of three years.
About the Collective Bargaining Process
Collective bargaining in the public sector is governed by Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 150E.
Massachusetts law permits public employees who are not confidential or managerial to collectively bargain but expressly prohibits public employees from engaging in a strike including a work slowdown.
The Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations (DLR) provides an overview of the collective bargaining process.
What is collective bargaining?
Collective bargaining is the mutual obligation of employers’ and employees’ representatives to meet at reasonable times and confer in good faith with respect to wages, hours, standards of productivity and performance, and other terms and conditions of employment, or the negotiation of an agreement, or a question arising under an agreement.
What is the School Committee’s Role in Collective Bargaining?
The School Committee is the employer for purposes of collective bargaining with school unions. Generally, the School Committee will select one or two members as the bargaining team for each union. For purposes of collective bargaining, a municipal representative, such as the Town Manager, can participate and vote with the School Committee and may be appointed by the School Committee to serve on the bargaining team. Collective bargaining agreements cannot exceed three (3) years.
The School Committee and respective bargaining units are responsible for bargaining in good faith to reach agreement on the terms and conditions of employment.
Negotiations between the School Committee and recognized employee groups are conducted in accordance with Massachusetts General Law Chapter 150E. Section H – Negotiations of School Committee policy defines the goals, and parameters of legal obligations and negotiating agents. The School Committee’s main responsibility is to ensure that students receive the highest quality education as well as the services they need to succeed.
Which topics are covered within collective bargaining?
Conditions of Employment
Standards of Productivity
Process for Performance Evaluations
Benefits, i.e. personal leave, sick leave
Must an employer negotiate with representatives of the bargaining unit?
Yes. The employer and exclusive bargaining representative must, upon demand, negotiate in good faith with respect to wages, hours, standards of productivity and performance, and other terms and conditions of employment. No public employer may exempt itself from the operative provisions of the law.
What is the process of negotiations?
Each party presents proposals that include changes that they wish to make in the existing contract, including adjustments to salary and benefits. These items are discussed through a series of negotiations meetings.
What are the next steps if an agreement is reached during bargaining?
When the parties reach agreement, that agreement is subject to ratification by the union membership and approval by the full School Committee, including the municipal representative. Members of the bargaining teams for the union and for management are legally required to vote in favor of the agreement that they reached during bargaining. After ratification and approval, the agreement becomes effective.
Is either side required to agree?
No. But both sides must bargain in good faith, and either reach agreement or impasse.
What happens if the parties can’t reach an agreement?
Mediation: If the parties bargain in good faith but are unable to reach agreement after a reasonable period of negotiation, the parties are at “impasse.” At that point, either party or both parties acting jointly may petition the DLR for a determination of the existence of an impasse. The DLR then assigns a mediator to assist the parties in reaching an agreement. The role of the mediator is to facilitate an agreement. Agreements reached in mediation are subject to ratification by the union membership and approval by the School Committee, including the municipal representative.
Fact finding: If mediation is unsuccessful, the next step in resolving an impasse is fact-finding. The parties select a factfinder from a list provided by the DLR.
The factfinder holds a hearing(s) where the parties present their proposals, positions, and information, including relevant data about the District’s resources and comparable districts.
The factfinder then issues a confidential report with findings of fact. This report may or may not include recommendations.
The parties receive copies of the report and are required to return to negotiations informed by the report.
If the parties do not reach agreement within ten days from the issuance of the report, the DLR will release the report to the public. If the parties are still unable to reach agreement, the employer informs the DLR, which either sends the parties back to mediation or finds the employer has satisfied its bargaining obligations, which permits the employer to implement its last best on the record offer.
Can a union strike if no agreement is reached?
It is against the law for public employees in Massachusetts to strike. Massachusetts General Laws chapter 150E section 9A provides:
(a) No public employee or employee organization shall engage in a strike, and no public employee or employee organization shall induce, encourage, or condone any strike, work stoppage, slowdown, or withholding of services by such public employees.
(b) Whenever a strike occurs or is about to occur, the employer shall petition the commission to make an investigation. If, after investigation, the commission determines that any provision of paragraph (a) of this section has been or is about to be violated, it shall immediately set requirements that must be complied with, including, but not limited to, instituting appropriate proceedings in the superior court for the county wherein such violation has occurred or is about to occur for enforcement of such requirements.
What happens if a union goes on strike?
If a union were to go on strike, the DLR would order the union to cease the strike and employees to return to work. If the union does not comply with the DLR’s order, the DLR will seek judicial enforcement of its order. Failure to comply with a judicial order subjects the union to contempt charges and large fines.
The School Committee may set long-term as well as short-term goals for bargaining. The goal of preserving good employer/employee relationships is important and must be balanced against the availability of funds and the needs of students, the general public, and the community. The School Committee’s main responsibility is to ensure that students receive the highest quality education as well as the services they need to succeed. Decisions on contract terms must ensure that the administration’s right to manage and to fulfill other School Committee goals and state mandates are preserved.
A recommended operating budget for Andover Public Schools is determined each year by the School Committee in close consultation with the Superintendent of Schools. The Committee also works with the Town Manager, Select Board, and Finance Committee to understand revenue and expenses throughout the town in order to make responsible judgments about the appropriate level of school budget. For more information on the APS School Operating Budget Overview and Process click here.
Why can’t the schools just pay teachers more?
The School Committee deeply values our educators, and the offer we have put on the table reflects our commitment to them. Our latest proposal not only provides significant salary and benefit increases, it also responds to requests and direct feedback we’ve received from the union throughout this process.
The Committee has the dual responsibility to negotiate with our educators and operate within the long-range financial planning of the town.
What is your current offer to the teachers?
Our current offer to the Andover Education Association would provide educators in Unit A with a 9% salary increase over three years, before additional pay increases and the elimination of steps. The total offer with all elements, including steps, would provide educators with a 14.06% increase over three years.
Why can’t we just pay teachers more instead of building new schools?
School buildings and school personnel costs are funded from two separate budgets. When the district builds a new school or makes significant capital improvements, the town and the district must receive approval from Annual Town Meeting, and often from voters at the ballot box to borrow the funds. Operational expenses are funded through local and state taxes.
What about parental leave?
The School Committee is deeply committed to helping families get the time they need. That’s why we have offered the following proposal to the AEA regarding parental leave:
- 10 days of fully paid leave within four months following the birth or adoption of the child. Under the current contract, there are no days provided without cost to the employee.
- Additionally, the School Committee has proposed increasing the parental leave time that employees may take from their accrued sick leave from 8 to 20 consecutive days, beginning on the date of the birth/adoption of the child.
What are some of the large-scale remaining issues (as of 9/18/23)?
Compensation/The School Committee very much wants to pay Unit A members more, and on February 1 offered an increase of 7% over three years, in addition to the annual step and lane/track increases Unit A members receive. We are awaiting Unit A’s counter-proposal. Most recently (in January of 2023) the AEA offered an increase of 16% over three years.
The School Committee offered Unit A the following parental leave proposal:
● [For birthing and non-birthing parents]: For Unit A members employed in the District for at least three months, ten days of fully paid leave (i.e., no cost to the employee) within four months following the birth or adoption of the child.
● [For non-birthing parents]: For all Unit A members, increase the number of days Unit A members may take from their accrued sick leave from eight (8) to 20 consecutive days, beginning on the date of the birth/adoption of the child.
Elementary Prep and Planning Time
Prep and planning time is a critical element of elementary teachers’ ability to deliver high quality instruction to our youngest learners. Currently, elementary teachers have roughly 56 minutes per day of uninterrupted prep and planning time. This exceeds the average time in several comparable school districts by nearly 15 minutes per day. In addition to this time, our teachers receive 50 minutes per day of duty-free lunch, while teachers in some comparable districts have duties during student lunch and recess.
Increasing elementary prep and planning time has been a priority for the Union bargaining team, which has proposed weekly early release days for elementary schools. The School Committee does not believe this will be beneficial to the education of our students and is concerned a weekly early release day will be disruptive for elementary families. Instead, the Committee proposed six (6) modified early-release days (90 minutes earlier than usual) in addition to the seven (7) existing days (3+ hours earlier than usual), with the intention that the time will be entirely teacher-directed and used for prep and planning.
What did the School Committee offer at the October 11th negotiations session?
As promised at the September 18th negotiations meeting, the School Committee presented the AEA with an increased compensation package at the October 11th negotiations meeting that includes:
- A 9.65% pay increase over the three years of the contract, including the removal of step two of the salary grid and a one-time $2,000 increase of the top step in the Master's Degree +75 credits lane.
- For approximately 25% to 30% of our teachers at the top step in the Master’s +75 credits lane, their salary in year one of the contract will be $112,058.
- A 9.5% increase to stipends over the three years of the contract.
The School Committee also presented the AEA with a package proposal that included an additional 10 minutes per day of elementary prep and planning time.
How does the current APS prep and planning time compare to other districts?
Who does Unit A represent?
AEA Unit A consists of all classroom teachers, program heads with teaching assignments, media librarians/digital learning specialists, learning specialists, guidance counselors, school social workers, special education teachers, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and registered school nurses. Members do not include paraprofessionals (Instructional Assistants), administrators, secretaries, custodians, nutrition services staff, and other employees.
Who is on the negotiating team for the Andover School Committee?
The School Committee Chair, Tracey Spruce, and Town Manager, Andrew Flanagan, represent the School Committee with support from the Superintendent, Dr. Magda Parvey and members of her Central Office administrative team. The team is represented in negotiations by outside labor counsel.
Who is on the negotiating team for the Andover Education Association (AEA)?
The AEA selects AEA members for its negotiating team. The AEA’s team traditionally has been joined in negotiations by a representative from the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), a statewide labor organization that provides support and legal representation to Massachusetts member unions.
When did collective bargaining for a successor contract begin with Unit A?
Collective bargaining with Unit A of the Andover Education Association (AEA) began in January 2023. While the parties made progress on a number of items, agreement could not be reached before the most recent contract expired on August 31. The Andover School Committee looks forward to working with the AEA to reach a fair and equitable agreement for all that works within the budget parameters set by the Town and the school department’s long-range financial plan (Appendix E-page 99). The School Committee deeply values the steadfast dedication of our teachers and staff, and thanks them for continuing to deliver an excellent education to our students during this time.
What did the School Committee offer at the October 3rd negotiation session?
- wage proposal that would compensate more than half of the Unit B membership above the union’s targeted school year pay of $40,000 and a starting IA wage of more than $25/hour by Year 3 of the contract.
- In year one, steps 1 & 2 would be eliminated from the salary table and a market adjustment would be applied to steps 3 & 4.
- In year one, an increase to work year stipend for Registered Behavioral Technician (RBT) Instructional Assistants from $1,000 to $1,900.
What did the School Committee offer at the October 25th negotiation session?
- A counter-proposal on compensation, which was discussed by the parties.
- The parties are scheduled to meet again on November 8, where the Committee will provide a full counter-proposal.
Collective Bargaining Community Updates
November 14, 2023 - 5:30 PM
The Andover School Committee is pleased to announce a tentative agreement with the AEA. Students and staff will return to school on Wednesday, November 15, 2023
November 13, 2023 - 11:30 PM
Negotiations between the Andover School Committee and Andover Education Association ended Monday at approximately 11:30 p.m. with both sides agreeing to get back to the bargaining table Tuesday morning. The School Committee is encouraged by the progress made today with the help of our state-appointed mediator and we are hopeful that more progress can be made tomorrow.
November 13, 2023 - 9PM
School will be canceled tomorrow, Tuesday, November 14, 2023.
Box breakfasts and lunches will continue to be provided for students that can be picked up at Bancroft Elementary School. Breakfast can be picked up from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and lunch will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
November 12, 2023
Andover School Committee Statement as of 10PM
The School Committee and the Andover Education Association were unable to reach an agreement during negotiations today, and as a result, schools will be closed tomorrow, November 13, 2023. The parties are scheduled to resume negotiations on Monday.
Andover School Committee Statement as of 6PM
The Andover School Committee wishes to provide the following update to the community related to negotiations with the Andover Education Association (AEA).
Statement of the Andover School Committee
After more than 20 hours of negotiations over the last two days with the Andover Education Association and a state-appointed mediator, we have yet to reach an agreement.
November 11, 2023
Statement of the Andover School Committee
The School Committee and the Andover Education Association (AEA) bargained for eight hours on Friday, November 10, 2023, with the assistance of a state-appointed mediator.
November 10, 2023
Statement of the Andover School Committee
Last night, the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board at the Department of Labor Relations ruled that the Andover Education Association’s decision to engage in an illegal strike violates state law. Because the union is now in violation of the CERB’s order,
The Andover School Committee participated in a strike investigation Thursday evening with the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board (CERB) at the Department of Labor Relations as a result of the School Committee’s filing
November 9, 2023 (Update)
Statement of Tracey Spruce, Chair of the Andover School Committee: This evening, the School Committee learned that the Andover Education Association (AEA) membership voted to authorize an illegal strike, beginning tomorrow morning.
November 9, 2023
We are writing to inform you that today, the Andover School Committee filed a petition with the Department of Labor Relations seeking to prevent the Andover Education Association (AEA) from engaging in an illegal strike.
November 8, 2023
The Unit B bargaining teams met tonight, and the School Committee presented a supplemental proposal that included an increase in compensation and partially paid parental leave.
October 25, 2023 - Update
We want to provide you with an update on the status of collective bargaining with the Andover Education Association (AEA). Both Unit A and Unit B bargaining teams met earlier today to continue contract negotiations.
October 11, 2023 (Afternoon) - Update
We want to provide you with an update on the status of collective bargaining with the Andover Education Association (AEA). The Unit A bargaining teams met earlier today to continue contract negotiations.
October 11, 2023 (Morning) - Update
With the school year in full swing and information flowing to and from schools, teachers, and families and in seemingly every direction, we figured we would join in with an update on our negotiations with the Andover Education Association (AEA).
October 4, 2023 - Update
Yesterday afternoon, the negotiating teams for Unit B held their 11th session since bargaining began in January. The parties met for almost two hours.
September 22, 2023 - Update
We heard some concerns that our next Unit B bargaining session, currently scheduled for Monday, September 25, 2023, will prevent individuals from observing Yom Kippur.
September 18, 2023 - Update
We respect our educators and are grateful for their steady work and commitment to provide an excellent education to our students.
August 29, 2023 - Update
As we begin an important new year for our students, families, and school district, the members of the School Committee want to share some information about one of the School Committee’s main responsibilities, collective bargaining.