T he MTA is working with a preK- 12 ESP work group and higher education unions on surveys aimed at learning more about the
daily challenges of Education Support Professionals.
All ESPs are urged to complete their surveys as
soon as possible.
The data collected will be used to help the MTA
advocate for ESPs and develop the MTA’s bargaining
and legislative priorities.
A link to the preK- 12 survey, which was
developed by the MTA ESP work group and Rutgers
University, has been emailed to all preK- 12 ESPs.
The survey is designed to take about 10 minutes.
Joni Cederholm, chair of the preK- 12 group, is
a longtime paraprofessional in the Weymouth Public
Schools, vice president of the Weymouth Educators’
Association and the current MTA ESP of the Year.
“PreK- 12 ESPs constitute almost 20 percent
of the MTA membership, and they are some of the
lowest-paid educators,” Cederholm said. “The goal
of the survey is to define who we are as well as what
While a number of topics are covered in the
survey, Cederholm said, wage and other data will
help to explain the daily struggles of preK- 12 ESPs.
Challenges they face include a lack of respect in
the workplace, rising health care costs and the need
for many ESPs to shoulder the burden of more than
one job to make ends meet, she said.
“We are educators,” Cederholm added. “This is
our career, and it is time that ESPs earned a living
Ten higher education locals have emailed a link
to a survey covering union contract priorities and
work climate to their unionized classified staff on all
five UMass campuses.
The survey — the result of work by the MTA,
the American Federation of State, County and
Municipal Employees, and the American Federation
of Teachers Massachusetts — includes subjects
such as job training, difficulties in using leave time,
parking and outsourcing.
That project grew out of coalition work that
the locals have been doing with the MTA Division
of Higher Education and UMass Labor Extension
offices to train together, compare contracts and
develop a joint bargaining and organizing strategy.
L eslie Marsland, president of the 1,000- member University Staff Association, said she wants to see what is most important to
her members in each of the areas that the coalition
hopes to bargain jointly and then “prioritize, hear
what members have to say, listen to ideas and make
sure our higher ed ESPs have a voice at the table —
a very loud voice.”
Janelle Quarles, president of the 300-member
Classified Staff Union at UMass Boston, said
negotiators intend to use feedback from the survey
when they begin bargaining a new contract in
“We are working toward consistency, fairness
and equity in all of the classified contracts across
campuses,” said Quarles. “When we started this
project, we noticed that there was language in some
contracts that was lacking in others. Our goal was
to compare all of the contracts and bring them to
For example, some contracts have language
about how often labor-management teams should
meet. Some contracts have no such language. “At the
very least, you want to provide members the same
access to labor-management teams so they can have
their issues addressed,” Quarles said.
A link to the preK- 12 survey is posted on the
MTA website at massteacher.org/esp. PreK- 12 ESPs
are being asked to complete the survey by Monday,
Dec. 16. Individual unions have emailed the higher
education survey link to members. Classified staff
employees who have not received it are encouraged
to contact their union president for a copy.
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