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The Telegram
  • New school district requires new union

  • Come September, 200 teachers and 22 teacher’s assistants from the Ilion and Mohawk school districts will begin instruction in the new Central Valley Central School District. In the meantime, the unions that represent the majority of the teachers have started talks to form a new unit.

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  • Come September, 200 teachers and 22 teacher’s assistants from the Ilion and Mohawk school districts will begin instruction in the new Central Valley Central School District.
    In the meantime, the unions that represent the majority of the teachers have started talks to form a new unit.
    “We have transition committees in place who are looking at both constitutions,” said Shelly McCarthy, Mohawk Teachers’ Association president. “This is very new to all of us. There are not a lot of other mergers that we can look at for ideas.”
    Among the issues: salaries and benefits.
    On average, there is about a 13.4 percent pay gap between the two districts. The starting salary for Ilion teachers is $39,306; Mohawk’s starting salary is $34,400, according to the reorganization feasibility study.
    While health insurance benefits for current teachers are similar in the two districts, the study shows Mohawk retirees pay “substantially less” for it during retirement.
    Also, records show Mohawk’s union represents teachers and five teacher’s assistants in the district, while Ilion’s does not represent teacher’s assistants.
    “I feel the issue of the teacher’s assistants being in the unit will be resolved in the next few weeks,” Ilion Teachers’ Association President Andrew Goldman said, but wouldn’t elaborate further.
    McCarthy described the task of combining the two unions as “overwhelming,” adding once a constitution — the bylaws that will govern the union — are decided upon, it must be voted on by all the members, and officers then must be elected.
    There currently is no timeline for the new union to be formed.
    “We are trying to take our time to make sure we get this right,” McCarthy said.
    Carl Korn, spokesman for the New York State Union of Teachers, said the organization has been working with the two unions with the process. “We are anticipating a smooth transition, but surely there will be challenges and perhaps some bumps in the road,” he said.
    Once the union is formed and officers are elected, Goldman said they could go to the bargaining table with the district.
    “Eventually the two associations — Ilion and Mohawk — will come together, and once they do that, they’ll approach the district about working on a contract,” he said. “Then it’s just a question of how long it’ll take to negotiate a contract.”
    Goldman said he was pretty confident that an agreement could be met by the new school year.
    If not, he said the teachers would work under the contracts from the separate unions.
    “It is not uncommon at all for local unions to work under the terms of an expired contract until a new contract is negotiated,” Korn said.
    McCarthy said she didn’t anticipate everything would be done and agreed upon by the new school year. But she said, “I think it would be more comfortable for everyone if we were all under the same collective bargaining agreement.”
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