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  • Writer's pictureMike Zilles

NTA EBulletin: May 27, 2024

Dear Colleagues,


I hope you have enjoyed this glorious weekend, and hope as well that the respite has given you at least some small amount of renewed energy to get through the next five weeks. 


Some of the notices below are new, some are revised, and some appear the same as they did in the last EBulletin, and are here to remind you in case you hadn't read them before! I have noted each sections status in the title. 



Dues for 2024-2025

(New)


On Wednesday, May 22, the NTA Representative Assembly met for special session in order to approve dues for 2024-2025 as part of next year's budget. They finished their work that afternoon.


Your Building Representative will tell you what the dues will be next year, and explain how we arrived at our decisions during NTA meetings held in your buildings this week or next. So that all members hear the same information, we have prepared a slide deck that will be presented in all buildings. The slideshow also includes a videotaped introduction from me.


I am purposefully not presenting this information here, as these EBulletins have become quite public, and we do not need to broadcast to the public our dues. Moreover, we believe that members should have the opportunity to hear about dues in person so as to be able to ask questions and share comments or concerns.


That said, I know it can sound ominous that I am not saying something now, which some may take as implying the dues increases will be huge. I do not believe that is the case. In fact, I am of the firm belief that the budget and dues increase your building representatives will present to you well serve the financial needs of the NTA and fairly protect the financial needs of our members. We have guarded your interests as individuals and as members of the NTA. 




Let's Celebrate Together!

(Unrevised from last week)


FAIR CONTRACT is getting back together for a one-time-only reunion concert as a part of Newton Porchfest! You don't want to miss it! 


When: June 1st from noon-2pm

Where: United Parish of Auburndale (64 Hancock St, Newton, MA 02466)

Why?: To rock, to party, to celebrate the NTA


Newton Porchfest is an annual performing arts festival held in Auburndale, Lower Falls, and Waban Center, featuring local musicians and performers from all around Newton. Dozens of generous residents from these neighborhoods volunteer their porches, garages, driveways, and lawns to bring our community together.


We're honored to partner with our hosts at United Parish of Auburndale, who are supporting us in fundraising to offset the cost of the massive fines incurred as a result of our strike action.


Mostly, let's come together to celebrate the beginning of June, and the end of a hard, and, yes, very long year, but also one that brought us together in amazing solidarity!


Fair Contract comprises members from elementary, middle, and high school, classroom teachers, classroom aides, and every one of you who sang with us in solidarity to stir the hearts of the community and keep our spirits burning through the cold.


We hope you'll all lend us your voices one more time to celebrate the incredible things we accomplished and will continue to accomplish together.


Bring family, bring friends, but come! Let's get together before the year ends and celebrate!



Faculty Meetings in High Schools

(New)


A reminder that next year in the high schools--North, South, Springboard, and Central--staff meetings will be held on Tuesday mornings, NOT on Tuesday afternoons. They will begin at approximately 8:00 a.m.--though I do not think the exact time has yet been set. 



Take Action!

(New)

 

Support Legislation to Make Retirement Plus Available to All.


Click here and take one minute to send an email supporting legislation to open up enrollment to members who did not enroll in 2001.


From the MTA:


In 2001, when RetirementPlus was first introduced, many teachers encountered a confusing enrollment process. Some never received an enrollment form while others were led to believe they were automatically enrolled in Retirement Plus, only later learning that they were not. The MTA has worked to rectify these issues administratively, however, an August 2023 ruling by the Division of Administrative Law Appeals has made it clear that legislation is needed to fix this problem.


Click here and to learn more about and support this legislation!



School Committee Office Hours

(New)


School Committee members Chris Brezski and Emily Prenner are offering office hours this week and next. I encourage you to attend if you can to share your feelings and thoughts with them. 


They will be available at South High School on Tuesday, May 28th between 4:30 to 6:30PM, and at North High School on Wednesday, June 5th between 4:30 to 6:30PM.  



MTA Candidate Recommendation Committee (CRC)

(New)


Late notice, I know, but the MTA Candidate Recommendation Committee is inviting any NTA member who wishes to attend to join them for Candidate Interviews for the two open 11th & 12th Middlesex State Representative seats for state representative. (Kay Khan and Ruth Balser are retiring at the end of this term.) The interviews will be conducted this Tuesday, May 28th, from 4 to 6 on Zoom. If you are interested, please respond to this email and let me know.


The NTA is allowed to appoint two voting members to this committee, and we currently do not have anyone who has volunteered to attend. Unfortunately, I am only able to attend the first hour, so I cannot be a voting member. We will select two of our volunteers to be voting members. If you are an NTA member, and live in Newton, we especially would appreciate your participation. There is no limit to the number of members who can attend, and you need not attend the entire two hours. However, you can only be a voting member if you commit to attending the entire meeting, from 4:00 until 6:00.


Please respond to this email if you are interested in attending, and I will get you the Zoom link. Please let me know before 6:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. 


And please remember: Bill Humphries is one of the candidates. He was an outstanding supporter during our strike. Let's help him out!



Labor Relations

(Partially Revised)


Reminder About Strike Make-up Days In June

(Revised from last week)


As you know, we were out of school for eleven days during our strike. To protect staff against retaliation and to make sure that everyone would receive full pay for the year despite missing these days, we entered into a Return to Work Agreement with the district. Four of the missed work days were made up during February break, and the remaining seven work days will be made up on June 18, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26,  and 27. (For Franklin Elementary, the make-up days are June 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, and 28)


Under the terms of the Return to Work agreement, use of sick days and personal days are limited:

  • If you need to be out for a personal or family illness on one or more of those days in order to be paid you will need to provide a doctor’s note.

  • Personal days cannot be taken on strike make up days.  Anna Nolin has, however, carved out an exception to this for moving on/graduation ceremonies that do not qualify under the contract as a Commencement Day. If you have a child with a graduation at a grade level lower than high school on one of the strike make up days, you may send a request to HR Director Joany Santa, santaj@newton.k12.ma.us, with a copy to Anna Nolin, nolina@newton.k12.ma.us, to use a paid personal day for that event.  You should include all relevant information in your request.

You are able to use and be paid for “other” days during the strike make-up days for those circumstances covered by the contract:

  • Death of a close family member or dear friend;

  • Holy days;

  • Court appearance by summons;

  • Commencement exercises at which the employee, his/her spouse or child will be awarded a degree or diploma;

  • Absence caused by an automobile accident involving the employee on his/her way to employment (this limited to the day of accident only).

Below, please find the instructions and timelines for applying for unpaid days off during the strike makeup days. These went out to employees from HR through the NPS Gmail system. 


********


From HR May 23, 2024, 4:02 PM


In cases of extenuating circumstances, you can make a request to the Director of HR at (hrsupport@newton.k12.ma.us) for time off from 6/18/24-6/28/24. Please provide backup documentation to support your requested time off. Requests made without backup documentation may not be reviewed or approved. Your request must be approved ahead of time by the Director of HR. If your request has been approved, your time off may be unpaid for wedding or family graduation requests. If taking a personal illness day, you must provide a doctor’s note. Per the Return-to-Work agreement, requests for time off in June were supposed to be made by February 5, 2024. However, we are processing additional June requests as information becomes available for members. Please be aware that Tuesday, May 28, 2024, is the last day to submit valid requests for time off during the strike make-up days in June. Please follow the RTW agreement and make sure all requests are sent to hrsupport@newton.k12.ma.us. Sending it elsewhere will delay your request and can even negatively impact your approval.

 

*********


Parental Leave

(Unrevised from last week)


As many of you know, we were able to increase paid parental leave from a maximum of 40 working days to a maximum of 60 working days in the new contract. Everyone, regardless of gender or parental status, is entitled to a minimum of 40 paid days, with the first 20 days being paid by the district. After the first 20 days, an employee may have up to 40 additional paid days (up to 60) to be paid from the employee’s accumulated sick time. In the event that an employee does not have 40 days of accumulated sick time, then they will not be paid for the full 60 days, but will be paid for at least 40 days — the number of paid days between 40 and 60 is subject to a calculation based on how many available sick days an employee has and how many they may want to reserve (up to 5).


The new policy is a huge win for our members. Other locals are now proposing and winning this same policy as a result of our win.


However, the district is now implementing a change that, while compliant with the contract, will be more restrictive for some NTA members. We are sharing this information here as it is an important change that will affect our members who are planning to welcome a child into their home. While contractually permitted, this change represents a limit in flexibility to which many of our members have become accustomed.


The contract for Units A, B, C, and E states, on the one hand, that "ordinarily, an employee will not be allowed to return from leave within the school year unless the employee wishes to return after a leave of sixty (60) working days or less. On the other hand, the contract grants the superintendent flexibility: "The Superintendent or designee retains the right to determine whether to grant the request of an employee to return from leave within the school year." 


In the past, the human resources office, as the superintendent's designee, has always granted requests to return after 60 days, but within the school year. This has changed. Beginning next year, the district is not granting requests for additional time for members to care for their children unless they choose to remain out for the remainder of the school year--an option guaranteed in the contract. 


If employees were, in similar fashion, themselves to adhere only to their minimal contractual obligation, they could give just four (4) weeks notice of their intended parental leave. And failure to give even this minimal notice would not result in a forfeiture of the right to a parental leave, as the contract also states that "Parental Leave will not be denied for failure to provide the required notice." 


Licensure

(Unrevised from last week)


Please be sure to keep on top of your licensure to avoid problems down the road. If you haven’t done so in a while, log on to your ELAR account through the DESE Security Portal to check your licensure status. If you have questions about licensure, MTA has resources you can locate on the “Employment & Licensure” tab on the MTA website. Other questions? Reach out to Chris Walsh at treasurer@newteach.org.


Evaluation Timeline - Educators with Professional Status

(Unrevised from last week)


Due to the late end of the school year, the NTA and NPS Administration have agreed to an extension of time for the deadline for completing formative or summative evaluation for educators with professional status. The normal deadline is the first Friday in June, which this year is June 7.  We have agreed to extend the time to the second Friday which is June 14th.


NTA Endorses Bill Humphrey for State Representative for 12th Middlesex Massachusetts House District!

(Unrevised from last week)


I am thrilled to say that in our last Representative Assembly, NTA leadership voted to endorse Bill Humphrey to be the next State Representative to the Middlesex 12th district. 


Do I even need to say anything about that decision?! Probably not, since all of you saw Bill courageously stand up and support us during our strike. The members of the RA are confident that he will continue to do so at the state level, supporting critical statewide initiatives, such as the right to strike and the end of using MCAS as a graduation requirement. 


Bill stood up for us. The primary election--which, in Newton, will determine the outcome of the final election--is September 3. Now we need to stand up for him.


Here is a link to his website, where you can find ways to support his campaign.


Here is the sign up form for volunteers including lawn signs


Signs should be ready in about a month or so. 


If you wish to donate directly to Bill's campaign that link is here 


There is a lot we are going to need to do between now and September 3 to help Bill get elected.

 


In solidarity,


Mike Zilles, President

Newton Teachers Association

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