Before our team taking office, we inherited a case which we pursued vigorously. We requested a filing in court to overturn a previous arbitration decision regarding the placement of individuals at the maximum step of the BA column of the traditional salary guide choosing to move to the single salary guide. In that case, our grievance was denied as well by Mr. Scheinman. Our legal representatives felt that there were flaws in his decision and we petitioned the court to overturn that decision. The judge ruled in Mr. Scheinman's favor upholding his decision. Our legal team and our NJEA representatives felt we had grounds for an appeal and we pursued that appeal through the Appellate Division. Unfortunately, the following statement by NJEA Uniserv representatives indicates that fact that our attorneys were unsuccessful.
"This is the appellate division’s ruling (See ruling sent to all PPS email accounts) in the original Scheinman award regarding the retro payments from the 2013-17 MOA. As you recall, the issue was whether a person on BA, Step 16 who opted for the single salary guide should have been moved to Step 18, the next highest salary step or remain frozen until the guide caught up with them.
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The appellate division affirmed the trial court which affirmed the arbitrator’s award; the appeal was unsuccessful. The reasons provided were similar to what was provided by the trial court. Basically, one of the standards for determining the validity of an arbitrator’s award was whether the award “was reasonably debatable.” The court found that based on the language of the MOA, Scheinman’s award met with this standard. Furthermore, the court rejected our argument that the freezing of a step amounted to a de facto increment withholding. The courted noted that the MOA did not specify that the increment movement was automatic and that teachers still had to earn increment by rating effective."
This new information was literally received today. While this is not the news we were hoping for I felt that it was extremely important to share with you right away. We still believe that in these cases regarding the step placement of members were strong cases that we should have won. Unfortunately, we must put all of this behind us and remain focused on our goals moving forward. This is why our team asks for all members to remain Strong, United, and Ready to Fight for a new and better collective bargaining agreement.
John McEntee, Jr., President
(PEA) Paterson Education Association Update on Appellate Court Ruling