Massive Mat-Su union rally urges fair working contracts

Massive Mat-Su union rally urges fair working contracts
Published: May. 4, 2023 at 8:16 AM AKDT
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - A rally for fair working contracts was hosted by the Mat-Su Education Employment Association and the Classified Employees Association after both groups were unable to reach an agreement with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District on employment contracts.

The two associations met at the Mat-Su School Board building Wednesday to give public testimony pushing for new contracts that they say haven’t been reworked since June 2022.

A huge crowd of educators, union workers, and supporters showed up wearing red and came to speak their minds.

“I have never seen principals, or the superintendent for that matter, have to rally and stand before you for a fair contract,” said Sarah Ellis, an educator in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough for over 30 years who says she’s retiring because she’s tired.

The rally flared up after the school district and its employees were unable to reach an agreement on employee contracts. Most were upset to have to fight for what they believe is fair conditions.

The presidents of both associations spoke before the school board on Wednesday.

“We are asking you to show us enough respect to direct your team to work with us, to find a solution that will allow us to settle this before the end of the school year,” Mat-Su Education Association parent Vikki Hewitt said. “Let’s not drag this on any longer.”

“Stop trying to replace our health insurance provider, return to the table, and negotiate a contract that benefits the students and educators of the Mat-Su Borough School District,” added Classified Employees Association President Rick Morgan.

The unions argued that the school district will not settle on a contract until both organizations give up their current health insurance provider for one that the district chooses for them.

Union workers are against this because they say the district’s chosen insurance providers have high deductibles.

“The current proposal forces me and teachers like me to choose between keeping a roof over our heads and life-saving medical care, because unfortunately we can’t afford both,” said one educator that works at Colony High School.

After public testimony was over a majority of individuals abruptly left the room.

Alaska’s News Source reached out to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, which declined comment.