East Providence teachers union approves gap agreement

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EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence Education Association, the union of city teachers, approved a "gap" agreement forged with the Budget Commission by a reported 3-1 margin during a vote of its members held earlier this week.

"The EPEA ratified a Memorandum of Agreement with the Budget Commission on Dec. 10, 2012. The agreement covers the period from Nov. 1, 2009 - Dec. 31, 2012. The parties are continuing to bargain to reach a successor agreement," EPEA President Valerie Lawson wrote in an email statement.

The new agreement creates a revised structure to the teachers' health care plan, which is expected to provide the city with significant savings. Of note for the union, several of its members who were once denied will regain access to coverage.

In addition, the after-school meetings requirements of teachers have been altered. The number of meetings has been reduced slightly and the principals of each school will determine a schedule specific to their buildings.

Also, teachers have regained the personal day they lost when the previous agreement took effect. Each teacher will now have two personal days.

As Ms. Lawson indicated in her statement, the EPEA and the Commission continue to negotiate a larger deal. Because East Providence is viewed by the state as a so-called "distressed community," the Commission has greater leeway to construct an arrangement longer than the normal three-years in length if it sees fit and both sides agree.

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