BRISTOL — The Addison Northeast Teachers Association on Monday night decided not to go on strike at the Bristol-area public schools. The teachers union had set Wednesday, Feb. 9, as the strike date.
“It has been called off,” said Darren Allen, a spokesman for the Vermont-NEA teachers union, Tuesday morning. “Teachers accept (the contract) imposition, and bargaining is going forward.”
Contracts for teachers in the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union expired last July 1, and the union and school boards negotiated a new contract during the fall. The two sides were at loggerheads over several issues, with key sticking points being the size of the teacher pay raise, the inclusion of automatic “step increases” in pay, and an increase in the portion of their health insurance that teachers would cover.
The teachers warned of the strike after school boards on Jan. 5 imposed a contract that did not match the demand teachers had made in contract negotiations.
Negotiators from the two sides met again last Wednesday but the board representatives again made a final offer that teachers again declined. The union last Thursday opened a strike headquarters in Bristol.
Students at Mount Abraham Union High School had hoped to set up a forum at the school gym today to discuss the reasons for the strike with teachers. It was unknown this morning whether that forum would still take place.
Allen declined to go into details about the Addison Northeast teachers’ decision not to strike, deferring to local teachers union lead negotiator Heather Parkhurst, who is a math teacher at Mount Abe. Parkhurst was not immediately available to talk this morning.
Allen said he spoke with Parkhurst at 11:30 p.m. Monday after the teachers at a meeting that evening had decided to call off the strike.
“It was late and she didn’t want to talk a long time because at 11:30 last night she had to bake brownies for her class,” Allen said. “In addition to being the lead negotiator, Heather is a very devoted teacher.”
WCAX reported that the teachers will negotiate a new contract for next year.
John McCright is at email@example.com.