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  • Writer's pictureMike Zilles

NTA EBulletin: February 3, 2024: Make Up Days

Dear Colleagues,

Let's get the tough news out of the way before tomorrow's General Membership Meeting to ratify our new contract.

As you are all aware, Anna sent out an email an email to the community explaining how strike days would be made up. It's really hard that we will be losing February break as part of working 11 additional days to make up lost days and to earn this year's full pay. For all that we learned, shared, and for all that we grew, and, yes, celebrated our power, those days on strike, for us, were work days, hard days standing out in the cold, not knowing how much longer we had to hold the line. And now we must work 11 more days. It's really hard, especially because making up the days will cut out our February vacation, and force us to cancel most prior plans, with a few exceptions. 

And that is the reality. We have to make up those days, and the plan the district put together is realistic. 

Our return to work agreement promises us full pay for the year full school year of 180 days. It also requires that during make up days, all members must show up to work, and requires strict adherence to showing up.

  • If you are sick, even for a day, you must submit a doctor's note of some sort--be it records from a tele-health visit, a phone call with a provider, or an actual in person doctor's visit, you must get verification that you spoke with a medical professional.

  • You cannot use personnel days during make up days.

  • You cannot take unpaid days during make up days. 

Below is language from the return to work agreement outlining this:

The members of bargaining units represented by the NTA shall be paid in full with no loss, reduction, or interruption of pay based on the work stoppage provided that they make up the days so that they work their full work year.  Employees shall not take personal or unpaid days on any of the days scheduled as make-up days for the days lost as a result of the strike. Any employee who takes a personal illness/sick day for themselves or a family member/dear friend on any of the days scheduled to make up the days lost as a result of the strike shall provide a doctor’s note substantiating the need for the day(s). 

Under exceptional circumstances, the agreement allows that a member may take unpaid days, providing as an example participating in one's own wedding. If you wish to request that the HR Director consider your appeal to take off unpaid days, you must submit a written request to HR Director Joany Santa by 5:00 pm this Monday, February 5. 

Here is the language:

Additionally, if an employee has a need to take one or more of the strike makeup days off for a reason satisfactory to the Human Resources Director, such as attendance at their wedding, the employee may do so without pay provided that the Human Resources Director authorizes the time off in writing or by email in advance of the absence. A request for such time off must be submitted to the Human Resources Director by 5:00 pm on Monday, February 5, 2024,  and a response shall be provided not later than 5:00 pm on Friday, February 9, 2024.  

It is highly unlikely that having already made travel plans and having paid for flight tickets and/or living accommodations will be sufficient reason for being granted an exemption. We tried to get something to this effect in the return to work agreement, but were unsuccessful, and knew we could not succeed. The district's reasoning was pretty sound.

This is hardly good news after the news of our transformational strike and contract agreement. Yet the days must be made up, we must be there for the days to be made up, and there was simply no getting around this agreement if we wanted to settle our contract.

I hope you will understand that I won't be able to provide any further clarification beyond what I have shared in this email. If you are unsure whether you should submit a request for an exception, I would not be able to provide more information beyond what I have already shared. Please use your own best judgment about whether to contact Dr. Santa.

I look forward to seeing all of you tomorrow night at our General Membership Meeting to ratify our new contract at 7:00 pm! More information on that meeting will follow. The agreements we reached with the district are many and robust; I and our NTA Bargaining Team look forward to presenting them all to you tomorrow. 

In solidarity,

Mike Zilles, President

Newton Teachers Association



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