Jan. 16, 2018 – Plagued by low pay and a lack of job security, English-as-a-second-language teachers at Education First outside Boston were the first of the company’s U.S. affiliates to form a union. In January, after almost two years of negotiations, EF’s Guild members ratified their first collective bargaining agreement.
Support from students was key to the teachers’ success. Students wore stickers declaring, “I support my union teachers,” distributed flyers, and signed a petition.
Thanking their supporters on Facebook, the teachers wrote, “Before you, we were just 24 teachers. But with your support and petition signatures, we became hundreds of voices too loud to ignore!”
The contract provides for a $750 signing bonus and wage increases of 1.5 percent in 2018, 2019 and 2020. It also establishes minimum teaching rates for four pay classifications based on employees’ experience, education and skills.
The agreement includes guaranteed merit pay increases, overtime pay, provisions for prep time, and an increase of $1 per hour pay for prep time.
Full-time and hourly employees are eligible for health insurance, with employee contributions capped at 30 percent. They are eligible to participate in the employer’s 401(k) plan, with a 25 percent employer match after one year of eligible service.
Employees now accrue paid vacation time, are guaranteed seven paid holidays, and are eligible for paid and unpaid leaves of absence.
The contract requires “just cause” for discipline and establishes grievance and arbitration procedures.