Negotiations: All In for APS Students

School Department Employee Unions 

  1. Andover Education Association
  2. Andover Administrators Association
  3. Andover Food Service
  4. Andover Custodians

Unit A:

  • 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.

Unit B:

  • 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.

Unit C:

  • APS employs over 30 Unit C members
    • 14 Full year employees
    • 16 School year employees
  • Also referred to as the Andover Educational Secretaries Association or AESA.
  • The current AESA contract expires June 30, 2024, but has a wage reopener provision for the 2023-2024 school year.  The parties have not yet met to negotiate wages.

Negotiations FAQ

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.  

Those are: 

  • 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 150ESection 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?

  • Wages/ Salaries

  • Hours

  • Conditions of Employment

  • Standards of Productivity

  • Process for Performance Evaluations

  • Benefits, i.e. personal leave, sick leave

  • Health Insurance

  • Breaks

  • Stipends

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. 

Additional Considerations:

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.