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Mediation Expected as District, Teachers at Impasse

Parsippany teachers have gone without a contract for more than a year.

Contract talks are at a standstill between the and the New Jersey Education Association, the organization representing teachers, according to union representative Douglas Finkel.

Finkel told Patch that teachers, who have gone more than a year without a deal with the district in place, are hoping a mediator can help the two sides come to a compromise on the issues of salary increases and health care coverage.

"We're in the process of having a mediator assigned and waiting to hear back on that," he said. "Currently we're in a holding pattern. Both the union and the board negotiations team have decided that we're at an impasse."

Finkel said he expects mediation will take place "maybe in September."

According to Finkel, the association wants a modest pay increase for teachers and has concerns regarding the Chapter 78 pension benefit law passed in June 2011, which phases in gradual increases for employee health care contributions.

"It phases in from 20-33 percent over four years depending upon the union," he explained. "School boards continue to want more concessions than what came out of Trenton."

Finkel said the board wants no pay increases for teachers at all, and contended that this ultimately means a pay cut for educators, given the rising cost of health care.

"The average contract increase is about 2 percent," he said. "If it were to be 2 percent, given the larger chunk going toward insurance, [teachers would have] a negative return on their income for the next couple of years.

Finkel said that the health care contribution is a significant issue in terms of negotiating any fair agreement for teachers.

"When Trenton legislated [the increased health coverage contribution for public employees, it was outside of the collective bargaining agreement," he said. "Everyone must contribute 1.5 percent of their income to health insurance. If you make $50,000, for example,you'll pay about $750 now. After four years, you'll be paying 25 percent, which makes the contribution closer to $5,000.

"That's pretty significant. When one's advancement in salary is no more than 2 percent, they end up getting a raise and ultimately bringing home less. It's not helpful to one's household budget."

Finkel added that when boards ask for continued concessions, "there's just no way people can afford it."

He said teachers realize that negotiations put the BOE in a difficult position.

"We understand that boards are under budgetary constraints," he said. "The trick is finding common ground.

"Hopefully, the mediator will find that ground."

Meanwhile, NJEA representative Vickie Walsh reported that school secretaries are in a similar position.

"The secretaries' group is filing for mediation," she said. "The parties are very far apart on the issues."

And Walsh said Parsippany paraprofessionals, , want to who worked for up to four years without a contract and left their jobs prior to the deal finally struck last year.

She told Patch in March that they should be paid fully for the time they did work.

"If they were a bargaining-unit member for 2007, then they are entitled to compensation for 2007," she insisted. "If they left after that, then obviously, they aren't entitled to anything else. The district is challenging that."

There has been no comment from Superintendent of Schools LeRoy Seitz or Board President Frank Calabria on the discussions that have taken place or on future prospects for negotiations.

Michael Brancato July 09, 2012 at 11:46 AM
"If you make $50,000, for example,you'll pay about $750 now. After four years, you'll be paying 25 percent, which makes the contribution closer to $5,000." I'm no math teacher, but isn't 25% of $50,000 $12,500? Am I missing something here?
Ellen O July 09, 2012 at 01:24 PM
I believe it is 25% of the cost of your insurance, not 25% of your salary.
Kevin Brancato July 09, 2012 at 02:31 PM
The teachers are out of line by trying to negotiate thru the press. It leads to inaccuracies and speculation by people commenting as to what was said and how much insurance costs etc. Going thru the press is a NJEA tactic and we ( the public ) need not buy into it. What happens behind closed doors is what counts and if they want to get their contract resolved all they need to do is sit down and negotiate in good faith. Everything else is BS.
Michael Brancato July 09, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Well, then I'm still confused. Finkel said "Everyone must contribute 1.5 percent of their income to health insurance (under the current contract)". So right now, an employee making $50,000 / year pays $750, or 1.5% of $50,000. That means that in four years, the employee would pay 25% of $50,000, or $12,500. It seems like either a misquote or a deliberately misleading statement.
steve revette July 09, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Good finally the board is not giving in. No raises for teachers this year at all.
concerned citizen July 09, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Why don't teachers deserve raises if they are doing a great job?
Joe Casiner July 09, 2012 at 10:36 PM
I work for NJ Transit and I will be going into the fifth strait year without a raise. Our raises, when we did recieve them, were 1.5% to 2%. I have no sympathy.
steve revette July 10, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Because the taxpayers aren't getting raises at their jobs and they can't afford it. I would gain more respect for the teachers if they took a pay freeze for 1 year.
VietNam Vet July 10, 2012 at 05:42 AM
I think I see some more lay offs coming if they get an increase. My wife has been going 2 years without an increase in her salary and I just got a small increase in my social security this year, the first in 3 years because of Odumbo who needs more money for spending again. I make about 11,000 a year, someone of some intelligence tell me how do you live on that kind of money and pay a mortgage out of that, and then keep paying for the democraps tax increases. The teachers need to take a cut for awhile as well as others. We all have to cut back and live on less, when do they learn to do it and learn that we just don't have it ti give anymore. Wake up you idiots.
clyde donovan July 10, 2012 at 03:26 PM
All teacher salaries should be rolled back by 10 percent because - by and large - the alleged teaching professionals aren't getting it done. Parsippany appears to be a somewhat sub-average school system. Not much return for a whole lot of money spent.
Concerned Parsippany resident July 10, 2012 at 10:46 PM
ABSOLUTELY amazing. Me thinks all of you complainers about the teachers and the school system should live in another community and see the education your kids get there!!! All about the kids doesn't mean a cow of poverty. Do you say that to your doctor or dentist? Your mechanic makes more than some teachers do. The board took taxpayers money to give the Superintendent a raise on a raise. What does negotiate in good faith men? after No salary increase for a year and 1.5 % the year before, salaries are now reduced by health care payments and more pension payments. You get what you pay for. If you want to pay nothing or less than other towns you will not get the best teachers. The towns and countries where students succeed have PARENTS who care more about helping their kids do homework and study then play sports. Teachers cam only do so much. If you are asking them to make your kids successful without your support dream on. Which of your mechanics, roofers, lawyers do the best? The best paid or worst paid? You might get what you wish for if you don't support teachers- young, inexperienced teachers who can't get a job in a better paying district where parents support their teachers. Do you think the best teachers will choose to work in Parsippany when they can get more salary somewhere else? master teachers with PROVEN results are leaving in droves because they make less money each year. Just try to sell your house one day for top dollar with a shitty school system!
Ray Santana July 11, 2012 at 03:21 AM
I'm sorry, I never comment on these types of forums, but I'm astounded. It amazes me how people get internet muscles when they hide behind anonymous tags while making ignorant and asinine comments. Unreal! Your comments would probably hold more merit if you used your actual name. Someone who posted later said it best, you get what you pay for. Additionally, you get out of anything what you put in to it. I went to school in the district, I work in the district, and my children attend school in the district. Parsippany schools are GREAT, and should be lauded for their achievements. If you aren't satisfied in your child's performance, perhaps you should reflect on the reasons why YOU aren't satisfied. Or perhaps you should move to another town where you think the schools are better. You'd be doing all of us who live here and support our schools a favor. Be part of the solution.
steve revette July 11, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Your right about the parent having to be involved but that isn't the issue here. The issue is whether or not Parsippany Teachers should get a raise. Just because Idon't think they should get a raise does not mean I dislike them or I think that they are bad people because that is not even close to true. There are many great teachers in Parsippany one of them being Mr. Santana whom I like very very much. Fact is I rather see the teachers not get their raises for this year then see more people lose their homes.
Concerned Parsippany resident July 11, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Teachers pay mortgages and buy goods too. They will lose homes too. No mention that the Suoerintendent got a raise As did the business administrator in the years before she left ( $15,000). The Board of Ed found the money to give them raises. The paras got 25 cents an hour and they want the teachers to not nly get nothing, but take home less. Why not ask the police and firefighters who make TONS more than teachers to give up the $100,000 terminal leave pay when they retire after 15 or 20 years if you want to save money. Give the teachers a break! They are what. Ake the schools good to get top dollar for your house. Tjey are degrees professionals who have bills to pay.
steve revette July 11, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Yes and the Parsippany taxpayers were against both of those raises. Most of my money goes towards the schools instead of the Municipal. Also when it comes to teachers especially Parsippany teachers I have no SYMPATHY for them considering the crap some of them gave me when I was in school. I was just wondering what about the bad teachers because you and I both know a lot of Parsippany teachers suck.

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