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Negotiation Process

Is the negotiations process confidential?
Is it OK to talk about it with parents or community members? 

  • The negotiations process is not confidential. Both parties (the Newton Teachers Association and the School Committee) agreed to clear ground rules at the beginning of the process. Neither party asked for a confidentiality rule. 

  • The SC provides updates on negotiations during their meetings, and the NTA provides regular updates on negotiations in our bulletins, which are sent to all members and posted to our website to be read by the community. NTA strives for transparency around this process. Our neighboring communities such as Weston, Wellesley, and Lexington, who are in process or have recently settled contracts, all follow similar practices of transparency around the negotiations process. 

What is “collective bargaining” ?
  • Educators in Newton, as part of their union, engage in collective bargaining, meaning the NTA negotiates the working conditions and salary for everyone in their bargaining unit at the same time. In Newton, additionally, we negotiate the entire contract for all bargaining units at the same time.  

  • What is a bargaining unit? All classroom educators are in Unit A, regardless of whether they teach high school Spanish, middle school science, or kindergarten. All assistant principals and department heads are in Unit B, teaching assistants are in Unit C, full-time unionized substitutes are in Unit D, and tech support staff are Unit E. 

  • Unlike other professions, workers in unionized positions never have to sit down individually with their boss to negotiate a new salary, because pay increases and cost-of-living adjustments increase at the same time for everyone according to their salary schedule, which is public information. 

  • This means each change in the contract applies to the roughly ~2000 members of the NTA. Small changes, multiplied that many times, are costly. This creates a negotiations process that can happen over months or years, with each side deciding what is a priority and where they can reach compromise. 

When do negotiations happen?
Who is part of the negotiating team?
  • We began the process in October 2022. Each session lasts 2-3 hours in the evenings. We will have our 11th negotiations session June 12, with plans for multiple summer sessions. The NTA contract officially expires on August 31, 2023.

  • At any given negotiations meeting, there are 30-35 people in the room to engage in discussion, time to “caucus” with their team, and to bring new or edited proposals to the table. 

- The NPS team consists of:

  • Three members of the Newton School Committee (Paul Levy, Kathy Shields, and Tamika Olszewski)

  • Outside legal counsel

  • General counsel for NPS

  • Superintendent and assistant superintendents

  • Human Resources

  • Director of Finance

- The NTA team consists of:

  • Fifteen educators from across levels

  • NTA officers

  • MTA consultant

How is the process finalized?
  • After both parties have reached tentative agreements on all items, the contract must be ratified by a majority vote of both the School Committee and the NTA membership. 

  • NTA negotiations team brings proposals to the table based feedback from educators: what is needed in our schools, and what is needed by educators to best support themselves and their families. NTA leadership can’t “shake hands at the table” on a contract until we feel confident it will be approved democratically of by a majority of our membership. Educators have expectations that a premier school district like Newton should be able to provide a fair contract that will meet the needs of our students and support educators and our families. 

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