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Member activism lands Saratoga Springs teachers contract win


or more than two years, the tenor was the same. Negotiation sessions came and went, but nothing productive was happening. Saratoga Springs teachers watched their peers get contract wins and felt unheard and disrespected by district administration. So, members decided to take action.

Members of the Saratoga Springs Teachers Association at a rally and holding signs that read Teaching Conditions = Learning Conditions
Members of the Saratoga Springs Teachers Association rally for a fair contract. Members marched through the city and packed a board of education meeting to make their voices heard.
Led by local president Tim McGuiggan, labor relations specialist Chris Chandler and regional political organizer Peter Kim, members of the Saratoga Springs Teachers Association rallied in early November to demand a fair contract. Carrying signs adorned with phrases like “Two years too long,” “Fair Contract Now!” and “No contract? A race to the bottom!” referencing Saratoga’s horse racing history, hundreds of members marched through downtown Saratoga Springs before packing a school board meeting to demand a fair deal.

“I think the action was a game changer,” said McGuiggan. “It had a definitive impact on negotiations. Everything changed as a result of that rally.”

With a mediation session scheduled for mid-December, Saratoga Springs TA members kept up the pressure. Signs carried at the rally were turned into car placards placed in windshields for cars parked at the schools. And lawn signs began springing up in prominent areas throughout the community.

picket sign that reads Teachers Deserve Respect with the Saratoga Springs Teachers Association logo
While previous negotiation sessions had been unproductive, the mid-December mediation session was completely different. “It was very businesslike, very committed to getting something done that night,” said McGuiggan about the seven-hour-long session. And after more than two years of negotiations, the district accepted the union’s proposals on salary and insurance and, for the most part, resolved a settlement the union had put forward before but the district had previously rejected.

Teachers approved the agreement by 96 percent in early January. The deal provides full retroactive pay at 4.5 percent for the 2022–23 school year, along with 4.5 percent increases through the 2026–27 school year.

McGuiggan credited support from Saratoga Springs retirees as well as the Saratoga County Labor Council and NYSUT for helping the local’s persistence over the past two-plus years.

“Chris Chandler led us through negotiations and never wavered and was always our voice of reason,” McGuiggan said. “Peter Kim planned and laid out a campaign for us which is what we put into action and that resource alone, we had no idea how to do that.

“We had a tremendous amount of community support in the district and us relying on our community for support is what really got us over the last hurdle.”