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Mar 1, 2017 1:11 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Quogue School Board, Teachers' Union Approve Seven-Year Contract

The East Quogue Board of Education during Tuesday night's meeting. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Mar 2, 2017 7:50 AM

The East Quogue Board of Education and the district’s teachers’ union have come to terms on a new seven-year contract that provides minimal raises for school’s estimated 45 educators and marks the end of a 21-month-long impasse between the two sides.

Board members unanimously approved the contract, which is retroactive to July 1, 2015, and expires on June 30, 2022, at Tuesday night’s meeting, stating that the “Memorandum of Agreement” was dated February 13.

They did not offer any other specifics of the contract before approving it, and Superintendent Robert Long also declined to discuss the agreement when approached immediately after Tuesday’s meeting, stating that a reporter for The Press would have to file a Freedom of Information Act request with the district to obtain a copy of the memorandum that was approved by the board that night. A request that was filed electronically at 8 a.m. Wednesday, and a copy was shared at around 11 a.m.

The three-page document, which was signed by negotiating representatives for both the district and the East Quogue Teachers’ Association, states that educators will receive a 0-percent salary increase for the 2015-16 school year, a 1-percent raise for the current school year, and 0.75-percent annual raises for the final five years of the accord, starting with the 2017-18 school year.

The document also states that the district’s educators—most of whom are now paying 10 percent of their annual health insurance premiums—will be asked to absorb 0.75-percent annual increases in those contributions between the 2016-17 and 2019-20 school years, and 0.5-percent annual increases in the final two years of the contract. They will not be asked to absorb an increase for the 2015-16 school year, when they operated without a contract. Meanwhile, all new educators hired after February 13, 2017, the date of new contract, will be required to pay 17 percent of their health insurance premiums, according to the document.

Eileen Variale, a fourth grade teacher in the district and the president of the East Quogue Teachers’ Association, did not immediately return a call on Wednesday. She and four other union officials previously signed off on the accord.

Patricia Tuzzolo, the president of the East Quogue School Board, also did not immediately return a call Wednesday.

The new contract comes about one month after a group of at least 20 teachers, all wearing matching red East Quogue Teachers’ Association T-shirts reading “Bargaining For Our Future, Protecting Our Past,” attended the board’s January meeting to express their dissatisfaction with stalled negotiations. At the time, the district’s 45 educators had been working without a new contract since their most recent pact expired on June 30, 2015.

The last three-year contract between the teachers’ union and the district actually expired on June 30, 2013. But before it expired, a “Memorandum of Understanding” was signed by former Superintendent Les Black and former union president Susan Masera that extended the old contract for additional two years. That extension, however, expired on June 30, 2015.

During the extended contract negotiations, teachers in the district were working under the conditions in the memorandum, Mr. Long explained in a prior interview. Teachers also continued to receive their contractual step increases—the schedule of salary increases used in teacher contracts—according to the terms of the memorandum. The new contract does not include any changes to that schedule.

While offering his superintendent’s report on Tuesday night, Mr. Long praised board members and the leaders of the teachers’ union.

“As far as my report, I would like to thank publicly the Board of Education and the East Quogue Teachers’ Association for their efforts in reaching this memorandum of agreement,” Mr. Long said. “It’s really noteworthy and we look forward to a continuing productive and positive relationship with the East Quogue Teachers’ Association.”

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Teachers will be asked to "absorb" a 0.75-percent annual increases in health insurance contributions between the 2016-17 and 2019-20 school years, and 0.5-percent annual increases in the final two years of the contract.
"ABSORB?" that comes out to 2.5 percent TOTAL after 2020. Just to put it in perspective, for a $1000 a month premium they with pay an extra $7.50 a year for two year sand an additional $5 a year for two years. Meanwhile, the premium will likely raIse in double digits each year ...more
By fire11 (272), east hampton on Mar 5, 17 6:38 PM
Yhis is another example of a stupid school board. Good work
By chief1 (2335), southampton on Mar 6, 17 5:14 PM
Fire; Please enlighten us as to where you came up with the average salary of $130,000 a year for the EQ teachers, or is this just the new normal, stating made up facts as truth?
By zappy (46), east quogue on Mar 8, 17 5:31 PM
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