Norwalk Board of Ed settles with Educational Personnel union

NORWALK, Conn. – Meet the new contract, (essentially) the same as the old contract.

The Norwalk Board of Education and Norwalk Federation of Educational Personnel (NFEP) have agreed to extend the 2009-2013 NFEP contract through June 30, 2017, with adjustments for pay, benefits and a few other potential adjustments.

The agreement, summary and a copy of the contract that was extended are attached at the end of this report.

The NFEP, the second-largest bargaining unit in the city after the teachers’ union, represents aides, clerks, secretarial and support staff.

The new contract with the NFEP, retroactive to July 1, 2013, was unanimously approved by the BOE after being approved Tuesday afternoon by the union, according to BOE Chairman Mike Lyons.

“It was a very amicable negotiation and settlement, led by Mike Barbis and (Attorney) Tom Mooney,” Lyons said.

According to the agreement, employees not on the top step will receive a 2 percent step increase each year. For each year of the contract, the parties shall discuss and, if necessary, negotiate over the allocation of an additional amount equal to 0.5% of the salary account for that year. The goal of allocating such additional amounts shall be to upgrade and/or otherwise to enhance and elevate positions as the parties may identify, as well as create additional opportunities for unit members to demonstrate higher qualifications and/or skills and to receive related increases in compensation.

The contract also calls for yearly decreases in BOE contributions toward insurance.

Contrary to concerns expressed at Tuesday night’s BOE meeting, “There is no outsourcing coming to Briggs,” Lyons said in an email. “We use an outside contract firm to assist with the revamping of the school, but all school employees remain in place.”

Lyons said there is a clause in the custodians’ contract that allows use of contractors to do work as long as no custodians are laid off, a provision that has been in the contract “for at least four years, agreed to in two negotiating cycles by the union,” he said.

“The contracting clause protects all current employees,” Lyons continued. “Unlike with the Aquarium, they can’t be laid off and replaced by contractors. Unlike with DPW and the garbage men, they can’t have their pay cut (in fact, they will get contractual raises). But when they quit or retire, we can fill the slots with contract employees, and (Superintendent) Dr. (Manny) Rivera will be doing so because of the considerable cost savings available.”

NFEP CONTRACT22009-2013 extended through 2017

NFEP Summary Settlement 2013-2017

Norwalk NFEP Tentative Agreement Letter


13 responses to “Norwalk Board of Ed settles with Educational Personnel union”

  1. the donut hole

    Guaranteed raises rather than merit based pay is the number one reason our education system continues to be outperformed by most every other developed nation. It guarantees lackluster individual performance by punishing overachievers and rewarding deadbeats. Until we wake up and see this, it is our children who have to suffer through the ineptitude. This system has the same effect as passing children from grade to grade regardless of whether or not they are ready. We are breeding and rewarding incompetence. Until the agreements include the ability to reward top achievers handsomely while being able to fire losers who deserve it, this charade will continue. God help our children.

  2. John Hamlin

    It would be nice if those negotiating with the unions could have the taxpayer’s financial interests in mind.

  3. We do have the taxpayers’ interests in mind, John. That’s why we have pushed all of the unions into HSA insurance accounts, higher co-pays, etc., saving millions of dollars. And why we are moving to custodian contracting, which can reduce our custodial costs by 60% over time. And why we’ve brought in budgets in the 2.5 – 3.5% range the last two years, after previous boards came in at 8% increases. Within the heavy constraints of unfunded Federal and State mandates and mandatory collective bargaining laws, we’re still making progress.

  4. Oldtimer

    There are people who seem to think the cost of public services should remain constant or go down the way the cost of groceries, gasoline, and other household expenses for public employees keeps going down, doesn’t it ?

  5. the donut hole

    @Oldtimer. Exactly. It is called supply and demand and competition. Without it our society crumbles. That we’ve taken any semblance of it out of our education system speaks volumes as to why it is failing miserably. These unions need a haircut, big time. Their salaries are way above market rates right now for equivalent education and experience and number of hours worked. Saying so is flat out lying.

  6. Yes, Oldtimer. We can make our best efforts to control costs, but making them go down is a stretch. Inflation alone generally prevents that.

  7. the donut hole

    Mike Lyons is doing a great job in the rigged system he has to deal with, but he needs to file law suit against Hartford for discrimination in ECS funding. Either that, or ignore what Hartford says and be willing to be handcuffed for it to make the stink that needs to be made for these ridiculous guidelines that have driven our education quality and state into the ground.

  8. donut, the suit is already filed and we are participating (see https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/01/judge-rejects-delay-moves-education-financing-lawsuit-forward/#comment-42142). At his 100 days press conference, Mayor Rilling said he intends to step up support for the suit (having been brushed off by the upstate legislators over our ECS mistreatment just as Mayor Moccia and BoE Chair Jack Chiaramonte were).

  9. Considering teachers have far outpaced getting raises beyond the inflation rates, year after year, it would be considered just if they didn’t get a raise for another 5 years so they can feel what the rest of America feels when they don’t even’t get a raise based on inflation or Cost of Living.
    In fact, many in America may not have received raises in five years.
    So once again, these aren’t “professionals” with degrees but aides or secretaries (etc) and are guaranteed at least a 2% raise every year – regardless if they earned it or not. ONLY the 0.5% ABOVE the 2% is “merit based”. What a joke.
    What a privileged bunch (and to hear the secretaries complain all the time like they are “so weighted” down with all the stuff they have to do and actually “try” to be nice to parents…not)
    Don’t lose them…

  10. Marjorie M

    This superintendent has a very good relationship with the unions. Smart man!

  11. Taxpayer Fatigue

    PIBERMAN – where are you? Here is your new union contract approved by your BOE…I guess it is no fun because you can’t complain about Rilling…

  12. Keep in mind the constraints of the collective bargaining laws we operate under. This isn’t the private sector where you can make market-driven decisions. Everything is subject to second-guessing by arbitration panels, and in most cases those panels force parties toward the state “mean” of contract awards. The challenge is to find the best savings you can while minimizing costs; in most cases (though not all), settling without arbitration is a net savings (the arbitration with the teachers saved a lot more money than it cost, but that was a big contract; with smaller unions it usually isn’t cost-effective). The BoE has concentrated its attention in the last two years not on salaries but rather on benefits. The former have been trending up at 2% / year, while the latter were trending up at 10% / year. We have now brought the latter down to a 4% / year trend, which is about as good as you can do in the age of Obamacare. That’s a 60% drop in the rate of increase, saving millions of dollars. We’ll keep trying to improve on that, but 60% is pretty good progress for two years. If folks want to address the problem beyond these incremental improvements, the changes need to be made in Hartford, where the collective bargaining mandates originate, not here.

  13. LWitherspoon

    @Mike Lyons
    Thank you for the explanation and thank you for all the work that you do to improve the quality of education and control costs at the BoE.
    Let’s hope Norwalkers tell Hartford to remove the restrictions that force us into paying more than market rates for many services. The recent controversy over custodians at the Maritime Aquarium raised the question of why BoE custodians are being paid more than twice as much as custodians hired by the Aquarium.

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