A sea of orange filled the Mattituck High School library Thursday evening as teachers wore matching shirts to show a unified front as they face their third year without a contract.
The shirts featured the words “strength” and “solidarity” written in the center of a circle of “Mattituck-Cutchogue Teachers Association.” About 20 teachers were in the audience for the Board of Education meeting.
“We wanted to show strength and unity among us,” union president Donna Finnigan said. “It’s to bring everyone from the different buildings together and show a better stance for our contracts.”
After the previous teacher’s contract ended in June 2014, the school board and teacher’s union was unable to come to an agreement on a new contract — an agreement that nearly three years later has yet to be made.
During the school board meeting, vice president Charlie Andersen, who also heads the boards negotiations and personnel committee, said he board hopes to “have good news to announce” at the next meeting.
He said the board has had “productive sessions with MCTA” over the past few weeks, and is in the process of going over the finer details of the new contract at a meeting later this month.
“I’m really hopeful we’ll go through the finer details and get this hashed out and hopefully we’ll announce it in March,” he said. “It’s been a long, drawn out [process], but right now I think we’re in a good place … I think we’re doing really well, so I appreciate that.”
Board president Laura Jens-Smith said in an interview Friday that the board and teacher’s union reached the fact finding stage of negotiations, but ultimately hit an impasse and decided to sit down together again over the past few months to go over the document.
“It can be a challenge when negotiating a contract,” she said. “But we’re coming very close at this point … I’m very happy that we’re getting closer to reaching an agreement.”
Ms. Finnigan echoed their positive outlook about the future of the teachers contract.
“I’m happy we’re moving forward a bit,” she said.
Although teachers have been without a contract for almost three years, the board signed a new seven-year non-teaching staff contract in October 2015, which extended the previous contract by seven years and carried an annual salary increase of 1.25 percent.
Their previous contract expired in June 2015, leaving those staff members without a contract for only a handful of months.