Update: School Committee working through union contracts/agreements; one ratified, three to go

June 28, 2024 by Carol Britton Meyer (photo by Josh Ross) 

Updated at 5:58pm on 6/28 to include statement from the Hingham Education Association. 

The School Committee met in executive session Friday morning to work through  several union contracts/agreements, returning to open session after more than an hour.

The contract with the Hingham Administrators Association has been ratified, with agreements with the other three units — A, teachers; B, paraprofessionals; and D, administrative assistants — still needing to be ratified.

Paraprofessional agreement highlights include a significant salary increase as well as cost-of-living increases. (See below.)

“The HAA is the union consisting of our assistant principals and department directors, as well as a few other administrative positions,” Ni said. “We met with them for two negotiating sessions, starting on June 13, and negotiated a four-year contract (2023-2027).”

“The ratified contract includes the following cost-of-living increases over the four years: 3/3/3 and 3.5% and also includes increased longevity payments over time to approach what the teachers receive,” Ni explained. (See details below.)

The School Committee also took votes today (June 28) on the memorandums of agreement with Units A and B, and the committee’s understanding with the new Unit D union.

“The importance of [taking a vote today] is so that we can have a legal right to encumber the funds for retroactive pay before the fiscal year ends on Sunday, June 30,” Committee Chair Nes Correnti explained.

After the committee returned to open session, Correnti prefaced the meeting with the following remarks:

“”Typically the school committee does not meet on a Friday morning. I am grateful . . . to all of my colleagues for your time and commitment. As many are aware, we have been negotiating a new contract for the teachers and paraprofessionals for over 18 months. This is something [we] are committed to getting right.


‘A long process’

“I am grateful to the negotiating team for all of the work that you have done and to the entire School Committee for all of the sessions you’ve attended during mediation. It has been a long process, and I’m grateful that we will have some summer months to reflect and rejuvenate and come back together in the fall for the good of the students,” Correnti said.

Select Board Chair Joseph Fisher was present at the meeting because under state law, the select board chair is deemed to be a member of the School Committee when the committee acts to approve collective bargaining agreements.

For each of the units the committee came to agreement on, Fisher asked whether there would be an impact on the financial management plan outlined in the March 2023 memorandum of understanding among the Select Board, Advisory Committee, and the School Committee.

“We can still keep our MOU commitment (with these contracts in place),” Correnti said.

When the time came to vote on the Unit A agreement for the purpose described above, Fisher asked whether there is a provision in the teachers’ contract that would mandate that they attend graduation ceremonies and whether any part of the contract addresses their availability to write letters of recommendation for students. Committee member Kerry Ni, chair of the salary & negotiations committee, replied, “no,” to both questions.

Fisher, who ultimately did not vote to support the Unit A agreement,  went on to say, “What I have seen and what I have heard from residents over the past weeks and months is that the unavailability of the teachers caused incredible stress for the students. Their failure to show up at graduation was incredibly disrespectful to the families, and I’m not comfortable rewarding that type of activity. I think it was incredibly disrespectful to our students, and without those provisions I’m not going to be prepared to vote in favor of this contract. I understand that there’s a financial aspect to this, and I’m impressed with the negotiations you have concluded, but I’m not prepared to reward the conduct I have seen with a lack of teachers at graduation. It was appalling. It’s part of common courtesy, and that just didn’t happen here.”

Teacher Christina O’Connor objected to Fisher’s use of the words “disrespectful” and “appalling,” saying that his comments were just that to the teachers. Following the lengthy contract/agreement negotiations, she said teachers were “tired or needed time” and that they are not required to attend graduation.

Fisher told the Hingham Anchor in a follow-up telephone conversation, “Issues surrounding the negotiation of contracts should not adversely affect our students.”

Fisher went on to say in the meeting that the Select Board  “has been extremely appreciative of the work, the diligence, and the time the [school] committee put in[to this process]. You have prioritized the interest of our students and it shows, so we thank you.”


Contract/agreement details

⦁     Highlights of the ratified Hingham Administrators Association contract include a 3/3/3 and 3.5% cost-of-living increase over four years,  adding a religious and bereavement leave, and expanding the parental leave benefit for this union, as well as all other unions.

Also under the contract,  working groups made up of representatives from Central Office and the union were created “to tackle several challenges facing this group.” Ni explained.

“We would like to thank Dave Jewett and Andy Hoey for their collaboration,” she said. “We were able to talk through issues in a productive way and develop a contract that benefits the district and our employees,” Ni said.

⦁     With regard to Unit D – consisting of administrative assistants working in Central Office and in the school buildings — Ni said she believes that a series of collaborative discussions with the negotiating team “will result in an agreement [for a brand-new four-year contract, 2023-2027] that will benefit both the administrative assistants and the district.” The contract includes 3/3/3 and 3.5% cost-of-living increases.

The motion to approve the contract subject to ratification by Unit D by July 10, and subject to confirmation from HEA Unit D that the terms of the contract represent the items negotiated by the parties — and that they will bring the agreement to their negotiating team for ratification by July 10 — was approved by the School Committee.

“We thank the Unit D bargaining team — Pam Graham, Patricia Wanty, Maria Sandberg, Erika Quirk, Denise Stanley, Suzanne McIntire, and [HEA President] Jacqueline Beaupre — for their thoughtful, collaborative discussions,” Ni said. “We can all be proud of this contract, which significantly enhances pay and working conditions for this group and will make Hingham Public Schools an even more attractive place to work for employees in this union –which means that we will be able to retain and attract people who will best serve our students, staff and families.”

⦁     Units A and B — Unit A represents the teachers union and Unit B, the paraprofessional union. “We reached a tentative agreement on a four-year (2023-2027) contract [earlier] after 19 months of negotiations,” Ni explained. “Once we had a tentative agreement, there was a process to reconcile the language for the 16 multi-part proposals for Unit A and 15 multi-part proposals for Unit B. On June 27, we reached a verbal agreement on a memorandum of agreement, but both parties needed to sign it today to encumber the funds for retroactive pay for the members.”

Unit A (teachers) highlights include: 3/3.5/3/3% cost-of-living increases plus 0.75% for the top step of the salary scale on the last day of the contract; increase in longevity pay, and  caseload caps for special education teachers and related service providers.

Unit B (paraprofessionals) highlights include a significant salary increase in 2023-2024 from $20 to $25 an hour, cost of living increases of 5/3 and 3%; and an increase in longevity pay.

The School Committee voted to approve the Unit A and B MOA subject to ratification by the Hingham Education Association by July 10 and plans to vote on ratification soon thereafter.

The Hingham Education Association provided the following comment to Hingham Anchor:

Members of the Hingham Education Association are incredibly proud of negotiation efforts and what we won as a result. Significant wage increases for paraeducators and administrative assistants, longevity increases, paid parental leave, sick time use to care for family, caseload limits and more prep time for SPED staff to make sure our most vulnerable students have the support they need, and a commitment to healthy and safe schools for everyone are only a few of the major improvements we secured. Some of these hard-fought victories will be transformative not just for Hingham educators, but also their families, students, and colleagues around the state. To help pass the override and get through these protracted contract fights, we held countless 1:1 conversations with members, 10 minute meetings, standouts, and rallies. We had the overwhelming majority of members attend negotiation sessions and built robust contract action teams to reach unprecedented levels of communication, transparency, and strength. We thank members of the Hingham community that organized with us and voted on funding to make Hingham Public Schools a better place to work and learn. We look forward to ratifying all contracts soon and returning in the fall with renewed energy and fewer distractions.

It is disappointing that the positive outcome of today’s School Committee meeting was marred by the words and actions of Select Board Chair Joe Fisher. His individual vote against approval of the educator and paraeducator contracts due to disagreement with protected labor actions of HHS teachers was unproductive and insulting. Educators collectively spend over 18,000 hours helping each graduating class reach that stage and should not be publicly denigrated for choosing to watch the ceremony remotely or to spend time with their own family instead. We hope Mr. Fisher will reevaluate his opinion of the town’s largest labor force and choose to be a better partner in keeping Hingham one of the best places in Massachusetts to raise a family.

Go to https://www.hinghamanchor.com/middle-school-library-media-specialist-position-restored-to-full-time/ for details about the related funding.


2 thoughts on “Update: School Committee working through union contracts/agreements; one ratified, three to go”

  1. I have been teaching in Hingham for almost three decades now. It has never been required of teachers to attend graduation, at least not since 1996 when I was hired, as it falls on a weekend, which is not during the work week, and it often conflicts with teachers’ own personal commitments. It may seem totally disrespectful to Mr. Fisher for teachers to put their own families before their students, but I personally find his comment entitled, rude, and utterly ignorant . I have consistently worked weekends, volunteered for numerous events for no pay or recognition for that matter, written endless recommendations, and yes, attended many graduations, which only recently became more staff attended since Rick Swanson incorporated graduation robes for teachers-a small but noticeable gesture that made teachers feel a bit more respected, which is probably why it became more attended. Yet Mr. Fisher feels it was disrespectful for teachers working without a contract to spend time with their own families on a Saturday rather than spend it with that year’s graduation class? He doesn’t want to reward our perceived disrespect by agreeing to the contract? What are we dogs in need of training? I hardly think seeing the staff seats empty at graduation feels as disrespectful as spending decades of your life helping other kids in your free time only to have the town slice your health benefits nearly in half and then call you greedy. I can tell you personally how painful that feels, and it is a sting that does not easily fade. Not after a summer of rest or even a settled contract.

  2. The audio was not good over Zoom and now seeing Mr. Fisher’s full comments, I would like to add three additional thoughts on behalf of educators of the HEA as President since the statement I provided earlier this afternoon:
    1) Hingham staff attending graduation is historically not common or expected- only a handful go any given year. Why did he not know or ever notice this if he was in attendance?
    2) Neither of his demands were actually proposals brought forward by the School Committee. So to individually want to reject the contract based on the absence of proposals never made or even mentioned at the table is deeply troubling and absurd.
    3) Contracts are not “rewards” for good behavior. I had not heard that word used over the poor audio and it is truly reprehensible, not just unproductive and insulting.

    School Committee members, particularly Chair Correnti, should have defended their educators and everyone’s hard work in negotiations in this moment and promptly corrected Mr. Fisher on these points.


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