Nurses Press for Remedy for Summer Pay Gap: On Friday Received 1st Check in 2 Months

Nurses Press for Remedy for Summer Pay Gap: On Friday Received 1st Check in 2 Months

Connecticut Post

September 08, 2009

BRIDGEPORT – School nurses here received their first pay check in more than two months Friday, but they still haven’t been paid for eight weeks over the summer despite assurances from Mayor Bill Finch that they would.

“We met with the mayor and he essentially apologized. He said he would do his best to make it right as soon as possible,” said Kim Coyne-Lupinacci, a school nurse and negotiator with Local 1199. “He also said it rested with the Board of Education.”

In a written statement, Finch said Friday he shared his opinion directly with school system officials and has been in regular contact with them to make sure the nurses get paid the money they are owed.

" I’ve made my position completely clear — the nurses should be paid. Ultimately, however, it is up to the Board of Education to make sure that this happens," he said.

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School officials countered that the city labor relations office, under control of the city administration, took the lead in negotiating a new four-year contract with nurses. Carole Pannozzo, the district’s human resources director, was part of the negotiation team.

“This is not a contract we negotiated,” said Robert Henry, chief of staff for the Board of Education. “We commend our nurses for their hard work and dedication which they have demonstrated and the invaluable service they provide our students. This issue ultimately is about miscommunication between the parties negotiating the contract and not a desire to treat our nurses unfairly.”

The new deal froze salaries of school nurses for the life of the contract and increased health insurance premiums in exchange for shifting to a 10-month work schedule. Nurses who remained with the city as public health nurses — and who work a 12-month schedule — got raises of 9 percent over the life of the contract. School nurses say they were assured during negotiations they would continue to be paid annual salaries of about $54,581 and that the pay schedule would remain at 52 weeks. They were shocked in July when the checks stopped.

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