An Open Letter to the North Hanover and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Communities
At the October North Hanover Board of Education meeting, Board President Charles Schroeder read a statement regarding the status of contract negotiations and subsequently had this statement posted on the district website. This action was not in the spirit of our confidentiality agreement and, because it spread overly-simplified and misleading information, has moved our negotiations process backwards rather than towards a fair settlement that would benefit the entire North Hanover Community.
The North Hanover Township Education Association is issuing this letter to clear up misconceptions and to get the negotiations process moving towards a positive conclusion. Our contract expired on June 30th 2015. Employees have not received a raise since September of 2014 and yet they have seen dramatic increases in the mandated medical benefits contributions. The result is that many employees have seen their net compensation decrease. The NHTEA negotiations team has been patiently negotiating with the board for almost two years with the simple goal of stopping this downward spiral in employee compensation.
The first issue that needs to be addressed is Mr. Schroeder’s claim that the changes in medical benefits that the board proposed are “equivalent to or better than” the existing coverage. The truth is that there were parts of the proposed medical benefits changes that would negatively impact our members and it was rejected for good reason.
Secondly, Mr. Schroeder claims that the Board has offeredg in this matter and in violation of our mutual confidentiality agreement, it is also highly misleading to NHT and JBMDL parents and constituents. NHTEA members a settlement in which members would receive a salary increase of $6,000 over three years. This claim is misleading for two reasons. NHTEA represents teachers and support staff, including educational assistants, secretaries, clerks, cooks, and custodians. The board’s most recent offer does not come close to offering a $6,000 increase in support staff salaries. Additionally, teachers’ salaries are determined by a salary guide and, as a result of this process, many teachers would not receive the $6,000 salary increase Mr. Schroeder references. In fact, the board’s salary offer, without significant benefits concessions, is below the Burlington county average of 2.95% for contracts that began in the 2015-2016 school year.
Finally, a September 21st Burlington County Times article states that Mr. Schroeder said that the board would like to settle the contract but is limited in what it can do because of a state law that limits tax increases to 2%. While this is an oversimplification of the law, even as stated, it fails to recognize the fact that, due to retirements, school boards do not end up paying the full settlement rate to staff through the course of a contract. In New Jersey, on average, school boards pay only 50% of the agreed-upon cost of salaries in a contract settlement. This pattern held true for North Hanover in our expired contract. While the board had agreed to increase salaries by 7.75% in the 2012-2015 contract, the actual cost of salaries increased only 3.14% due to retirements. This shows that the 2% limit on tax increases does not pose the type of constraint that Mr. Schroeder suggests.
Throughout these months of contract negotiations, North Hanover Township Education Association members have worked tirelessly to serve our students and community, as the employees and their families have sacrificed due to declining personal incomes. We agree with Mr. Schroeder’s quote from the September 21st article in which he said, “We have one of the best staffs, I think, ever. We just seem to get better and better every year. We really do.” However, we know that unless North Hanover establishes a contract that guarantees competitive salaries and benefits for its staff, this trend will not continue and our community will be harmed by the consequences. There are over 190 members of the North Hanover Education Association who are firmly united in our commitment to establish a contract that enables our district to attract and retain great employees so that North Hanover schools can continue to provide outstanding educational opportunities for our students. With this letter, we ask the North Hanover and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst communities to contact the Board of Education and tell them to responsibly join us in this commitment as we continue the negotiations process.
Congratulations to Patty Bland for her success in the NEA Representative Assembly Delegate election.
Negotiations Update – May 10, 2016
View details of the most recent negotiations here.
Meeting with the Superintendent
View details of Dale’s most recent meeting with the Superintendent here.
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President: Mary Steinhauer – uncontested
1st Vice President: Anthony Rizzo – uncontested
2nd Vice President: Tamara Gross – uncontested
NJEA Delegate Assembly: Patricia Bland, Nancy Meyer, Doriann Swern
NJEA Delegate Assembly Alternative: Anthony Rizzo, Alamelu Walters
Negotiations Update – 2/26/16
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