Melrose School Committee Seeks Mediation In Teacher Contract Talks

MELROSE, MA — The Melrose School Committee is seeking outside help in its ongoing contract negotiations with its teachers union bargaining unit, School Committee Chair Margaret Driscoll confirmed on Monday.

After months of negotiations without a new contract, the School Committee has filed a request for fact-finding and mediation assistance from the state Department of Labor Relations, Driscoll said in a statement.

Driscoll said the committee “remains committed” to settling a contract.

“At this time, the committee believes that the best way to achieve this is through mediation,” Driscoll said.

A push for mediation from the Melrose School Committee comes after the committee and union negotiators successfully reached a deal to settle a separate set of negotiations for a paraprofessionals contract.

Both parties approved that agreement last month.

The teacher contract remained unsettled, though, after a lengthy stretch of negotiations, public statements, rallies and comments in city meetings before and after previous contracts for Melrose paraprofessionals and teachers expired last year.

The Melrose Education Association already reacted to recent developments in negotiations on Dec. 24 with a statement directly from President Lisa Donovan.

Donovan said the School Committee had filed for mediation and declared that negotiations were at an impasse.

Donovan called the School Committee’s decision “disappointing news” and said the School Committee “is not interested in continuing to negotiate with us in good faith.”

Driscoll on Monday confirmed that the School Committee had filed for mediation, but continued: “We have always, and will always, bargain in good faith.”

Driscoll said the committee suggested mediation on Dec. 8 and Dec. 19 to Melrose Education Association negotiators, offering private mediation and state mediation at that time.

The committee then went ahead with a request for state mediation on Dec. 22, according to Driscoll, who was recently elected to follow Jen McAndrew as Melrose’s School Committee Chair.

“After nearly a year of negotiations, we think that a mediator will provide the approach and structure to move this important contract to completion more quickly,” Driscoll said.

“We look forward to getting started in this phase of the process,” she said.

The Melrose Education Association has continued to push for contract provisions including an increase in guaranteed preparation time and increases in pay, among other asks.

The Education Association is now planning to hold a rally as part of its continued protests about the state of negotiations at 6:30 pm on Tuesday before a scheduled School Committee meeting at 7 pm.

READ: Melrose Educators Plan March, Rally After Contracts Expire

Melrose Officials Eye Road Ahead Amid School Challenges

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