May 23, 2018
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Brewer ed tech contract negotiations going to mediation

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BREWER, Maine — School leaders and the Brewer Education Association have been at the negotiating table for the last several months trying to iron out a new contract for the department’s nearly 40 education technicians, but so far negotiations have failed.

Ed tech Kim Kelley, flanked by fellow ed tech Marcia Lizotte, stood Monday night at the podium in front of the Brewer School Committee asking for support.

“This Christmas, hardworking, caring and dedicated people are working without a contract,” she said. “We have waited patiently and hope to have a contract soon.”

The last ed tech contract, which lasted for two years, expired on Aug. 31.

“Nobody is without a contact,” Superintendent Daniel Lee said after the meeting. “Their current contract is still in effect.”

Lee said he also hopes a contract is signed shortly.

“We value the work of our education technicians and they make an important contribution to the education of our students,” the superintendent said. “We hope to reach an agreement soon.”

The last contract, effective from September 2010 to August 2012, gave no raise the first year and a 1 percent raise the second year.

“The problem is the ed techs have asked for so little and the school department is hiring a lawyer,” Lucy Girodet, Brewer High School English teacher and chief negotiator for the ed techs, said after the meeting ended. “We’re just devastated, given that we’re asking for so little. This is so unfair.”

Lee said he could not discuss specifics of the contract negotiations, but did say it was the ed techs who asked for the mediator.

“We couldn’t come to an agreement,” said Lizotte, who sits on the executive committee. “This is the first time we’ve gone to mediation.”

How the school department pays for a portion of the ed techs budget line was brought up earlier in the school board meeting when Lee was discussing federal funding and next year’s school budget. He said there is a chance a portion “of our federal money will be nixed,” which would deeply cut into the budget for ed techs.

In addition to Kelley and Lizotte, ed tech Nancy Penner also sat in the audience at the school board meeting.

“There are only three of us here tonight because most of the ed techs work two or three jobs,” Kelley said.

“It’s frustrating,” she said after the meeting.

The next contract negotiation meeting is scheduled for Dec. 13.

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