Many NJ teachers starting ’18 school year with contract talks in limbo
In the last breath of summer, days before the 2018 academic year begins, teachers unions in about 150 New Jersey school districts are still negotiating contracts.
But it's no cause for alarm, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association, which will have more solid negotiation statistics after Labor Day.
"This is the normal process. Negotiations can be a very slow process," NJSBA Deputy Executive Director Frank Belluscio told New Jersey 101.5.
Approximately 200 school districts had a new contract to settle before the start of the school year. Three quarters are still at the bargaining table.
Of the settlements already reported, the average salary increase for teachers is 2.9 percent.
"Right now, one of the major issues facing boards of education and teachers unions is health benefits," Belluscio said.
In Ridgewood, members of the teachers union intend to conduct a walk-in on Sept. 4, a professional day when student's won't be on site, to protest the lack of a new contract, according to NorthJersey.com. A sticking point, the report said, is the district's request that union members share their medical history in order to negotiate benefit costs.
When an impasse is declared, Belluscio said, the school board and union can call on the state to mediate the dispute.
"After a tentative agreement is reached, it's brought to the union membership and school board for ratification," he said.
In the meantime, teachers work under the former contract, and the school year does go on as planned, he said.
"Sometimes you will hear the expression 'working without a contract.' That's not true," he said.
It's expected the number of unsuccessful contract talks will be greatly reduced through the fall.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.