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CSEA SEIU Local 2001
Paraeducator Council Blog Jan 10, 2023
Danbury Tutors WIN Pension Benefit
by Drew Stoner

Judge Rules in Favor of Danbury Tutors, Represented by CSEA SEIU Local 2001, over Pension Benefit
As a matter of law, Judge rules that the Tutors qualify for a pension under the terms of the pension plan set forth in the City Charter

CSEA SEIU Local 2001, representing over 150 Tutors employed by the Danbury Board of Education, is happy to report that the judge ruled in favor of the Danbury Tutors, with a ruling that makes clear their eligibility for the pension benefit offered to full time employees of the Board of Education. The judge ruled that the Danbury tutors were not obligated to bargain under MERA for the pension benefit and that, as a matter of law, the Tutors employed by the BOE are entitled to a Declaratory Judgment saying they qualify for a pension under the terms of the pension plan set forth in the City Charter. 

Back in November of 2020, these workers joined together with approximately 100 supporters to hold a press conference regarding this legal filing and as full time employees, their ask to the court was simple: confirm what is already clear in the Town’s Pension Ordinance. Specifically that the tutors, like all other Board of Education employees, are entitled to a pension benefit. This week’s ruling comes as a huge win to a nearly 20 year fight for modest pension benefits for Danbury Tutors. 

A 32 year resident of Danbury, Barbara Sabo has dedicated 20 years as a Tutor with the Danbury Public Schools and has spent countless hours going above and beyond for her students, “There are about 1,500 special education students in Danbury, each with their own special qualities and learning styles. Without tutors, many of these students would be outplaced to very expensive out of district schools and more certified teachers would be needed to assist with their education. Tutors provide critical services to our school system and after 20 years of service, we should be able to retire in dignity with our modest pension benefit.”

Missy Cole is the President of the Danbury Paraeducators and Tutors Chapter, “As a paraeducator and sister to our tutors, I congratulate their hard work to win their pension benefit. For the past 20 years we have fought for tutors to be included under this benefit and we are happy to see the judge confirm what was already clear in the Town’s Pension Ordinance.”

“The work of tutors and paraeducators can often be physically grueling, emotionally draining and thankless, and despite many of us making less than $15/hour, we come to work each and every day to be of service to the students that rely on us,” said Cynthia Ross-Zweig, President of the CSEA SEIU Local 2001 Paraeducators Council, “This pension benefit will contribute to a level of retirement security for these workers after spending decades supporting the Danbury community.”

“As the Senate Chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee and proud retired union member, I’m always happy to see a group of workers stand together against an unfair and unlawful policy,” said State Senator Julie Kushner (D), who represents the City of Danbury, “In this case, it's even more meaningful to me having met with some of our Tutors several years ago and hearing their struggle to achieve equity.  These workers never wavered in their decades-long battle, instead they fought collectively for what should have been a benefit all along, and in doing so, showed their further dedication to the Danbury educational community.”


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