Teachers Counter Flaherty's Allegations

Most the teachers' statement refuted Flaherty's analysis of the terms of the contract. In an e-mail sent to City Councilors on Thursday evening, Flaherty stated that the "new agreement gives every single Unit A member a salary increase." In fact, the teacher's union says, the only change in the contract that increased pay was a lowering the eligibility for longevity pay from 15 years to 14 years and giving members with 15 years or more an extra $500 for the year. Since 112 teachers did not qualify for the longevity pay, and because they lost a furlough day, those teachers took a pay cut, the statement said.

The statement also addressed Flaherty's calculations about the furlough buyback program. Under the terms of the agreement, the City agreed to pay teachers two days pay, upon separation, in exchange for their taking a furlough day this year. In the email sent to the other City Councilors, Flaherty asserted the cost of the buyback program would be $1200 to $1500 per teacher. The teacher's, however, calculate the cost to be only about $800 per teacher after factoring in several years of pay raises. Furthermore, since only 10 to 15 teachers retire each year, the total cost of the new agreement is far below the $5 million Flaherty has cited, the statement said. The WEA statement said that the total cost of the buyback plan for this year will be about $10,077 if 15 teachers retire. Assuming the WEA's numbers are accurate, if 550 teachers took furlough this year (the WEA claims Unit A is about 570 teachers), the net savings for this year's contract would be:

550 teachers x $300 saved per furlough - $10,077 for the buyback program = $154,923 in savings for this year.

Using Flaherty's highest figure of $1500, the program would cost $22,500 this year and result in a net savings of $142,500 this year. 

The WEA's statement also countered Flaherty's claims that information had been withheld until recently, saying that there "was nothing duplicitous or underhanded about what we did, how we acted, or what we negotiated" and that that the terms of the new agreement were posted to the WEA website on July 19th. "If he wanted to he could have called members of the School Committee who were on the negotiations team, members of the WEA negotiations team, or Helen Bowler to find out what the details were. Mr. Flaherty never picked up the phone to make that call to get that information; his professed ignorance is nobody‚Äôs fault but his own," the statement read.

Both the mayor and the school department have indicated that they are working on their own statements concerning Flaherty's allegations which are expected be released within a few days.


Editor's noteThe WEA has requested that we attribute their response to Lori Hovey, the President and official spokesperson for the union.