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March 20, 2014

Union reaches tentative deal

LAWRENCE — After more than three years without a contract, the Lawrence Teachers Union and Superintendent/Receiver Jeffrey C. Riley announced yesterday they have reached a tentative agreement.

Lawrence Teachers Union president Frank McLaughlin said he could not discuss the details of the contract until members look at it during a special meeting on Monday.

“The negotiation process is a give-and-take on both sides,” McLaughlin said. “The agreement gives teachers an opportunity to have a real voice in the decision making in their schools. We want to go forward and this is the right time to do it. We have a lot of terrific families in Lawrence and want to see children and school system move ahead.”

Riley agreed.

“Both sides had to comprise,” he said. “Teachers are the most important asset we have and we needed to come up with an agreement that people can live with

Union members — guidance counselors, classroom teachers, occupational therapists, speech therapists, librarians, attendance officers and school psychologists — will then vote by secret ballot on April 2 to ratify it. If passed, the contract will be in effect through June 2017.

“We are anticipating a big crowd,” McLaughlin said of the upcoming meeting at the Relief’s In. “Morale is an issue that needs to be addressed and I think this will address it.”

Mayor Daniel Rivera is encouraging teachers to ratify the agreement.

“This agreement provides another ray of hope on our work to make Lawrence better, and goes to show that educational innovation and organized labor in our public schools are not mutually exclusive,” Rivera said in a statement.

Riley and union leaders have been negotiating the contract since he came on board in 2012, with a greater emphasis on reaching an agreement over the past year.

“This contract will reinforce the reforms we have put in place over the past two years while providing key employment protections, fair compensation and new opportunities for teachers,” Riley said in a statement.

Average 2012 teachers’ salaries in local school systems

Andover: $77,947

Haverhill: $63,038

Lawrence: $69,394

Methuen: $73,391

North Andover: $70,167

Source: Massachusetts Department of Education.

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