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The union difference in action: New Haven paraprofessionals win extra duty pay increase

Members of AFSCME Local 3429 (Council 4), led by President Hyclis Williams, rally for increased school funding in New Haven, Connecticut. Photo: AFSCME Council 4
The union difference in action: New Haven paraprofessionals win extra duty pay increase
By Lauren Takores, AFSCME Council 4, and Meredith Scalos ·
Tags: Momentum Wages

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Paraprofessionals in New Haven won an extra duty pay increase of more than $10 per hour for working before- and after-school programs during the 2022-2023 school year, an important win for the local that has been fighting for years for fairer compensation for their work.

This pay increase – which the city’s Board of Education approved on Nov. 28 – ensures that New Haven paraprofessionals are adequately compensated for the extra work they are being asked to do.

“We want to continue to work in New Haven where most of us live, vote and pay our taxes,” AFSCME Local 3429 (Council 4) President Hyclis Williams said during the New Haven Board of Education meeting. “However, we want to be able to afford staying here. A decent wage for modest living is all we’re asking for.”

This comes on the heels of a new union contract for New Haven Public Schools teachers, who are represented by the New Haven Federation of Teachers. If approved by local leadership, it would increase teacher pay by 15% over the next three years.

Cheryl Alexander, Local 3429’s secretary, said that New Haven paraprofessionals also deserve fair and living wages.

“We are good people doing great, important work,” Alexander said. “I have co-workers with more than 50 years of service to the New Haven Board of Education, some of whom keep working because they cannot afford to retire. It’s time for the board to walk the talk and pay us fair wages. We [paraprofessionals] are the cornerstone of these before- and after-school programs. This increase is proof that members won’t accept less than a living wage.”

As the cost of living rises for everyone, it’s a good sign that school boards are recognizing that paraprofessionals are integral to the success of before- and after-school programs.

“We are incredibly proud of our New Haven paraprofessionals’ recent win,” said Jody Barr, executive director of Council 4. “Through strong leadership, unity and hard work, this local received the recognition of the value of the work paraprofessionals do. This is a demonstration of strong unions helping to build strong communities and better public services.”

As staffing crises loom for school staff, school boards cannot afford to continue underpaying paraprofessionals for their essential work. This hard won pay increase for Local 3429 for the current school year hopefully marks continued support for the essential work paraprofessionals do to ensure that our schools provide safe and supportive learning environments for students.

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