Wappingers school board approves contract with nurses

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The Wappingers Central School District has signed a five-year contract with its nurses.

TOWN OF WAPPINGER – The Wappingers Central School District (WCSD) Board of Education approved a labor agreement with the district’s 26 nurses at Monday night’s meeting.  The five-year contract comes one year to the day after the WCSD recognized the Communications Workers of America (CWA) as the bargaining representative for the school nurses.

CWA Local 1120 Business Agent Rob Pinto told Mid-Hudson News that the negotiations were “contentious” at times and resulted in an impasse being declared, resulting in mediation.  He credited the nurses for mobilizing and making their voices heard at school board meetings and throughout the community for bringing a contract to fruition.  “Students, labor leaders, district parents, and nurse unit members spoke at numerous board meetings,” Pinto said. “Nurses spoke about the low wages and the effects of their lives and the district heard them.”

The contract,  ratified unanimously by the 26 nurses recently and adopted by the WCSD on Monday sets several standards, including a minimum starting salary of $44,000 annually for the district’s professional healthcare providers.

The agreement will allow the nurses to see immediate wage increases, raising their salaries to a living wage, according to Pinto.   The immediate increases range from 40 to 50 percent depending on how long the nurse has worked for the WCSD.  The new CWA members will also benefit from additional raises that vary between 15 and 20 percent of the life of the contract.

WCSD Superintendent Dr. Dwight Bonk congratulated the unionized nurses at the meeting, calling the agreement “well-deserved and well-earned”.  Telling the nurses that he looks forward to continued collaboration with them, the superintendent said “You are more important now than you have ever been.”