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Board Approves New Contract With BASE

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Board Approves New Contract With BASE
Posted on 01/04/2022
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The Portland Board of Public Education voted unanimously at its Jan. 4 meeting to approve a new two-year contract with the Benefit Association of School Employees, known as the BASE union. That bargaining unit represents employees that include the district’s bus drivers and transportation staff, custodians and maintenance staff, food service workers, computer technicians, accounting specialists, and administrative assistants. 

The agreement with BASE is retroactive to July 2021 and runs through June 2023. It includes a 2.25 percent cost of living wage for each year of the contract and substantially increases starting wage rates for almost all classifications, and sets the minimum starting wage for the lowest-paid grade level at $15 an hour. The contract upgrades the wages of bus drivers, night custodians, and food service supervisors to rates at or above the area average.

“The work of our Portland Public Schools BASE employees is key to enabling the education of our city’s children and I believe this contract is a fair one that recognizes their importance to our district,” said Superintendent Xavier Botana. “I am grateful to the Board and BASE for working together to achieve a workable agreement that enables us to make our salaries more competitive with other districts in the area. This contract can help us address our staffing needs during this national labor shortage.”

Among other provisions of the new contract, Administrative Assistants and those classified as Lead Administrative Assistant at the elementary and middle schools will receive an additional 3 percent wage increase. In the second year of the contract, the same Lead Administrative Assistants will receive an additional 2 percent raise.

In addition, the wage differential for Head Custodians who supervise more than 8 employees will increase from $50 per week to $75 per week and the on-call pay for Facilities employees will increase from $50 per week to $11 per day. These amounts have not been increased for some time.

BASE President Elizabeth Bryant said, “The negotiations were long and difficult with all parties working tirelessly to come together with a 2-year contract that is acceptable not only to BASE employees but to the taxpayers in Portland as well. A huge thank you to the BASE negotiations team as well as the Central Office team including Campbell Badger, Drummond Woodsum attorney.”

District 3 Board member Adam Burk, who represented the Board in the negotiations, said, “I believe we have arrived at a contract that Portland wants. Among other things, it raises the starting wage at $15 or higher,, and improves pay equity across the scale, recognizing the essential role that BASE employees play in our schools everyday. Thank you to everyone involved in this process, especially the BASE negotiation team, for their hard work.”

The total cost of the settlement is approximately 5.25 percent for 2021-22 and 3.25 percent for 2022-23. Further details of the contract can be found on BoardDocs or at this link.

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 60 languages. 52 percent of the district’s students are white and 48 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.