September 8, 2005
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer
About 1,000 families were without day care Wednesday when employees
of 13 centers in Hartford run by the Community Renewal Team staged
a one-day walkout, demanding a new contract.
The union, whose contract expired Dec. 31, 2003, is seeking 4 percent
raises. The nonprofit agency is paying a 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment
Day-care teachers will return to work today, but officials for their
union, United Auto Workers Local 376, are seeking a final meeting
with CRT negotiators to see whether an agreement can be reached. Otherwise,
the union will call for a meeting to vote on a long-term strike,
said Mike Langston, the local's financial secretary and treasurer. If the
teachers and their assistants go on strike, it will be "for whatever
period it takes to get a contract," Langston said.
About 170 of the union's 220 members joined a picket line in front of
the CRT building on Windsor Street Wednesday, wearing T-shirts and carrying
banners demanding a contract.
Union officials filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board
seeking access to CRT's books. The union wants to prove that CRT can divert
funding from sundry grants to pay for raises for early childhood education
A CRT spokesman, Fred Lynn, said CRT is financially strong, but that the
early childhood education programs run at a deficit so there is insufficient
money for higher salaries. In recent years, Lynn said, the agency has diverted
money from other grants to cover spending gaps. Last year, expenditures
exceeded revenue by $276,000 for early childhood programs, Lynn said.
Head Start teachers, who typically have associate's degrees, earn an average
hourly salary of $14.40 while teachers' assistants earn an average of $10
an hour, Lynn said.
Parents may call the CRT early childhood education hot line at 860-560-5137
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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