SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — Springfield Public School paraprofessionals spoke out Monday night, frustrated with negotiations over what they call a fairer living wage.
There are approximately 750 paraprofessionals in the Springfield Public School District. They said contract talks for a higher salary had been going on for two years.
On Monday, they held a virtual meeting, drawing attention to their concerns. Among them was the president of the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals. She told Western Mass News they were offered a 2% raise, below the current inflation rate of 7%.
She added that paraprofessionals face tougher challenges as the pandemic continues, which is why they hope for change.
“It’s great work, but it’s demanding work and it’s not for everyone,” said President Catherine Mastronardi. “We think the district needs to recognize the fact that changes have happened and follow through on that, and I don’t know if they recognize the economic change that’s happening.”
Western Mass News contacted Springfield Public Schools who told us they were looking for a neutral third party to mediate between the district and the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals.
Labor lawyer and chief negotiator Sean Sweeney told us in part, and I quote:
The district has placed an offer on the table that is significantly higher than two percent and to say otherwise is dishonest and misleading at best. The truth is, the value of the deal the district has put on the table would earn paraprofessionals an average four-year raise of 15 percent.
The Springfield paraprofessionals are now calling on the public to support them as well.