Burlington School Support Staff

Current Status

UPDATE 5/7/08:

Livable Wage Victory for Burlington Food Service & Maintenance Workers

Contract will bring workers up to a Livable Wage over 4 years

After a three and a half year campaign, Burlington school food service and custodial workers of AFSCME Local 1343 won an agreement that will bring all of its members up to a livable wage by the end of the contract. This agreement is a ground-breaking victory. This is the second livable wage victory in less then a year, last fall the Burlington para-educators had the first livable wage victory in the Burlington Schools.


The campaign for livable wages for Burlington food service and custodial workers has not been without struggle. It took three years of educating school board and community members, as well as organizing faith leaders, elected officials, other union members and hundreds of Burlington residents to show their support.


It is hoped that this contract will change the economic reality for many hard working Vermonters.  According to the Report on Livable Wages in Burlington Schools put out in June 2007 by the Peace and Justice Center’s, Vermont Livable Wage Campaign and the Vermont Workers Center, no food service workers make the hourly livable wage, 43% earned $8.59/hr or less in 2005-2006 school year, and 94% of food service workers are women.  Many food service workers have to work two jobs to make ends meet while their own children qualify for free or reduced price meals at school.


Congratulations to the food service and maintenance workers in Burlington and thank you to everyone who help out over the past three and a half years.  The hard work of the food service and maintenance workers and AFSCME, coupled with the community solidarity efforts and Burlington Livable City Coalition lead to a victory that is a true community success and finally address some issues of gender wage inequity in Burlington.

Read the press coverage


UPDATE 1/14/08:

After a three-year campaign the Burlington Para-Educators unit of the Burlington Education Association (BEA) and the Burlington School District reached a contract agreement that will guarantee them livable wages over the next four years - the contract was ratified by the School Board on Tuesday Oct. 30th. The contract states that starting hourly pay is being raised from $9.43 to $10.20, plus benefits. This starting wage will increase to a livable wage of $14.15 over four years.

This campaign was hard work and not without struggle. Over the past three years para-educators and community partners, including members of the Burlington Livable City Coalition, educated the community, organized petitions and speakouts and worked to ensure school board members were always keenly aware of the livable wage issue.

This victory not only guarantees para-educators be paid a wage that will allow them to meet their basic needs but it finally addresses the broader issue of a gender wage inequity in Burlington. Not only is this a victory for the para-educators and the community but this move sheds light on the gender wage gap. Currently Burlington municipal workers, who are primarily male, are guaranteed a livable wage by ordinance, while para-educators, most of whom are women, were not guaranteed a livable wage.

Hopefully this victory, continued community pressure and education will help in the campaign to win livable workers for the Burlington food service workers and maintenance workers who are still in negotiations fighting for a livable wage.

Read the report online
WCAX Story

UPDATE 6/25/07

Community Leaders call on Burlington School Board to Pay Livable Wages to Address Poverty and Gender Wage Gap in City



On Monday, June 25th, at 11am, Burlington area community leaders will hold a press conference at H.O. Wheeler School to call on the Burlington school board to adopt livable wages for all school workers in the district. A cross section of community, faith and political leaders will release a White Paper entitled “A Report on Livable Wages in Burlington Schools: How to Address Poverty in Our Community & Reverse Gender Wage Inequity,” asserting that raising wages to a livable level will address poverty as part of the larger community dialogue on socio-economic integration of Burlington schools. The Report underscores that raising wages will also address the gender wage gap between municipal workers (73% men) and school support staff workers (80%+ are women) and the gender gap within schools between maintenance workers (94% are men) and paraeducators and food service workers (83% are women and 94% are women respectively).

The press conference will be led by former State Senator Janet Munt and current State Representative Chris Pearson. They will be joined by several other leaders from faith communities, businesses, labor organizations and civic boards who have endorsed the White Paper, which includes figures and facts relating to school support staff wages, the gap between current wages and livable wages, the gender wage gap, and the estimated cost of increasing wages to taxpayers based on income and homestead value.

The Burlington School Board is scheduled to meet at 3:00 PM at Hunt Middle School on Tuesday June 26th to further consider the socio-economic integration issues for schools currently under discussion. Community leaders are urging the school board to see livable wages as a central part in addressing socio-economic gaps within the community.

Leaders are also encouraging the school board to adopt livable wages within the current contract negotiations under way with paraeducators, food service workers and maintenance workers. Currently the paraeducators and food service workers have contracts with minimum wages beginning at $9.54/hour and $8.50/hour (respectively). These contracts are set to expire on June 30th. Food service workers also have no health or dental insurance. The 2007 livable wage for an urban area for a single person with no children is $13.94/hour (assumes employer provides health insurance).

The campaign to increase school support staff workers’ wages to a livable wage has been part of a larger community effort by the Burlington Livable City Coalition, a group of community organizations and unions dedicated to making the City of Burlington economically “livable” for all citizens. The Burlington Livable City Coalition has been lead by the Peace & Justice Center’s Vermont Livable Wage Campaign and the Vermont Workers’ Center.

For more information: Colin Robinson, Peace & Justice Center, Vermont Livable Wage Campaign, 802-863-2345 x8 or livablewage@pjcvt.org or James Haslam, Vermont Workers’ Center, 802-272-0882 or james@workerscenter.org.

Para Educators

Paraeducators from Edmunds Elementary and Middle School  after the June school board meeting.

Current Status


Talking Points

Report on Livable Wages in Schools

Voting Record

Fact Sheet

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