Haverhill Public Schools Security Officers Join Teachers Union

The officers unionized after feeling they did not have a voice when it came to the many changes being made due to the pandemic.

Haverhill Public Schools Security Officers Join Teachers Union

HAVERHILL, Mass. — School security officers at Haverhill Public Schools (HPS) have joined the Haverhill Education Association (HEA), the union that represents the city’s teachers, education support professionals, and clerical staff.

According to HEA President Anthony Parolisi, the district’s security officers submitted a petition to the state Department of Labor Relations to join the teachers union back in October, reports The Eagle-Tribune. The 13 officers were previously at-will employees.

“We are thrilled to have the security guards on our side,” Parolisi said. “HEA members are the heart of our school community and the security guards play a vital role in that community. They are essential educational support professionals and, like all our school staff, they deserve fair working conditions, including a living wage and job security.”

Each Haverhill middle school has its own security officer. There are also several at the high school and some assigned to elementary schools, according to WHAV.

While other large school districts in the state have provided collective bargaining rights for security officers and other security professionals, Haverhill’s officers did not unionize until this year. Parolisi said the decision to unionize was driven by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Since the pandemic hit, our security guards are being asked to do more and didn’t feel like they had a voice in all the changes,” Parolisi said. “They approached us in the fall to inquire about joining. It is always inspiring seeing workers come together and take the risks associated with union organizing. Ultimately they determined having a voice at the workplace was worth those potential risks.”

The city’s school committee has appointed members Scott Wood and Maura Ryan-Ciardiello to represent the district in negotiating its first contract with the officers. The teachers union hopes to begin negotiations for the officers in January.

“We are eager to get to the bargaining table,” Parolisi said. “Bargaining is always a challenge, but first contracts are more so. There are a lot of important issues to iron out.”

HEA is also currently bargaining for its school secretaries and teachers’ aides.

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