As many as 200 Manchester public school positions will be vacant next year — 161 of them from layoffs — if aldermen don’t come up with a new funding plan or unions don’t make concessions between now and the end of the month. So far, unions for public school employees have refused to open their contracts. And why would they? Teachers are guaranteed a 2.5 percent pay raise next year even though the city cannot afford to pay it.
One of the reasons the city cannot afford it is because teachers had raises of 2.5 percent in every year but one since 2008, and in that one year (2010) the raise was 1.5 percent.
The base pay for a Manchester teacher is $33,904. Those with 14 years of service and a master’s degree can earn $70,744. According to state data, the average teacher pay in Manchester is $57,349. The state average is $53,702. Manchester pays its teachers $3,647 more than the state average and $8,178 more than neighboring Bedford does.
On top of that, Manchester teachers have benefits that are much more generous than the average in the private sector.
And yet the city’s public school employee unions have got aldermen debating not whether to give the schools more money, but how much to give.
Instead of following the lead of the city-side unions and agreeing to save jobs by bringing their benefits closer to those enjoyed by most private sector employees, the school unions have opposed every effort to trim back their above-average compensation. They even falsely claim to have already made concessions, when in fact the last contract change left them financially better off.
After years and years of pay raises, the teachers union will not agree to take even a relatively small adjustment in benefits to save more than 100 of its own members’ jobs. If the union won’t act to save its members’ jobs, why should the aldermen?