Perth Amboy teachers and other school employees have been working without a contract since July 2015 and negotiations with the Board of Education have broken down.
Patricia Paradiso is president of the Perth Amboy Federation, a part of the American Federation of Teachers Local 857 AFL-CIO that represents bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, paraprofessionals, school-related personnel, secretaries, security guards and teachers.
“We are extremely disappointed that the Board declared impasse in negotiations May 24 instead of staying at the table and working out a fair deal on health insurance for all members,” said Paradiso. “Our union proposed a progressive solution, which would take into account how much members actually make and lower costs for everyone in the unit.”
Paradiso, a third-grade teacher, says the union wants a decrease in health insurance costs. Some district employees currently pay up to 35 percent of their health insurance premiums and some have yearly out-of-pocket health costs of more than $10,000.
“It is hypocritical that a well compensated administrator like the superintendent is paying 1.5 percent of his two hundred-thousand dollar salary for coverage while a staff member making a third of that pays significantly more,” said Paradiso.
“The money is available,” said Paradiso. “The district just created four new top-level administrative positions allocating more than a half-million dollars in salaries for personnel who will never see the inside of a classroom.”
Paradiso said the teachers union is collecting signatures on a petition urging the school board to bargain in good faith, drawing on support from parents and other community members who feel employees should be treated with more respect.
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