Community Update on Contract Negotiations between the Elizabeth School District and the Elizabeth Education Association
ELIZABETH COMMUNITY UPDATE
Contract negotiations between the Elizabeth School District and the Elizabeth Education Association, the employees’ union, ended Wednesday, June 29th without agreement.
A state mediator will intervene to help the two sides reach a new contract.
The Board of Education and Administration want you to be informed as to why.
The District made a fair, generous, and good faith offer that would have increased pay by more than 10 percent for all employees over three years. Additionally, employees would have seen reductions in required health benefit contributions.
The union’s demand on Wednesday, June 29th was more than twice what any other teachers’ union in New Jersey will receive in the next three years. The total demand of the union leaders was more than $71 million above the district’s offer. To pay that amount, the District would have had to lay off more than 250 employees or raise taxes by more than $2,600 on every single Elizabeth property taxpayer. (The union leaders initially proposed a tax increase of $3,600 on every Elizabeth property taxpayer.)
A $2,600 tax increase in a working community like Elizabeth would have meant seniors would have been priced out of their homes. Families would have to choose between food and medicine. And understand, apartment-dwellers would have had rent increases as well. Perhaps, since none of the union’s leaders live in Elizabeth, they don’t care about the devastating impact of their outrageous demand.
The District negotiated in good faith and held more than half a dozen sessions with the union. We took seriously their stated goal to settle a contract before July 1. Their outright rejection of a fair offer coupled with an exorbitant salary demand is an indication they weren’t serious with that deadline.
For comparison, the raise offered by the District in the first year of a three-year contract was equal to what Summit teachers received this year. The increases for the second and third years were more than what Westfield or Cranford teachers will receive in comparable years.
The Elizabeth School District highly values its employees. Our teachers receive more than $105,000 yearly on average in salary and District paid benefits. That’s an extraordinary investment in staff on the part of the District.
We are confident that we will reach an agreement in the coming months with the help of a state mediator. Employees will receive pay increases retroactively when an agreement is finalized. We had hoped those raises would have begun Friday, July 1, but the union refused.
We will update you as developments merit.