Springfield public school paraprofessionals rally for fairer living wage

There are about 750 paraprofessionals in the Springfield public school district.
Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 7:03 PM EST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Springfield public school paraprofessionals spoke out Monday night, frustrated with negotiations over what they call a fairer living wage.

There are about 750 paraprofessionals in the Springfield public school district. They said that contract talks for higher pay have been ongoing for the past 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 that they were offered a two percent raise, below the current inflation rate of seven percent.

She added that paraprofessionals are seeing more difficult challenges as the pandemic continues, which is why they are hoping for a change.

“It’s a wonderful job, but it’s a demanding job and it’s not for everyone,” said President Catherine Mastronardi. “We feel the district needs to acknowledge the fact that changes happened and move along with that, and I don’t know if they’re acknowledging the economic change that’s happening.”

Western Mass News reached out to Springfield Public Schools who told us that they are seeking a neutral third party to serve as a mediator between the district and the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals.

Labor Counsel and Chief Negotiator Sean Sweeney told us in part, quote:

“The district placed an offer on the table that is significantly more than two percent and to say otherwise is disingenuous and misleading at best. The truth is the value of the deal the district placed on the table would yield paraprofessionals an average increase of 15 percent over four years.”

Springfield paraprofessionals are now calling on the public to stand with them as well.