Education

Teachers and School Staff Protest Retro Pay Amounts at Board of Education Meeting

9643a32908225aeb369f_unnamed.jpg
EEA members listen intensely at BOE meeting Credits: Fran Sullivan
10c8beb307bcc883770b_unnamed__1_.jpg
PTA leaders at Dr. Martin Luther King Early Childhood Center, Jr. are honored by the Board. Credits: Fran Sullivan
7360573c5599d4538c45_unnamed__2_.jpg
Board member Diane Barbosa reads a commendation for National Law Enforcement Day. The officers were also honored for organizing a coat drive and a turkey distribution to school children. Credits: Fran Sullivan
9643a32908225aeb369f_unnamed.jpg

ELIZABETH, NJ - Teachers and school staff, the majority wearing the Elizabeth Education Association color red, boisterously voiced their dissatisfaction with the amount of their retro pay at tonight's Board of Education held at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Early Childhood Center on Trumbull Street.

The dispute originated when the contract for the 2015-2016 school year was ratified on June 8, 2016. At that time, the agreement called for two percent to be paid in retro pay. According to Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer, that pay was delayed due to a calculation error. When the first of two retro sums were paid on Dec. 22, 2016 (the second is due February 15), it was less than expected by the teachers and staff.

During the public portion of the meeting, EEA President Joseph Cortico approached the microphone amidst cheers and a standing ovation. He began by saying, “The teachers and staff have given their best and continue to give their best to make our students a huge success. Elizabeth is a model for urban schools. I hear that wherever I go.”

Sign Up for E-News

He then accused the board of reneging on the retro-pay agreement. “We had 100 percent assurance that everything was correct,” said Cortico. “Consider the impact of what has happened.” Citing the prior successful working relationship between the Board and the union, he said, “We don’t have that anymore because I trusted you.”

Cortico argued that EEA members were not informed what formula was used and how the calculations were determined. In a formal, written statement, he said, “The Elizabeth Education Association reached an agreement with the Elizabeth Board of Education in June 2016. Significantly, all the data relied upon by parties was initially provided by the Board after it was verified as being accurate by the Board’s forensic accountant. That data was then reviewed and utilized by the Association. It was based upon that data that the salary guides were created, and these guides were then, again, verified by the Board’s accountants and lawyers and then by the board itself. The resulting salaries, after being reviewed and agreed upon, were ratified overwhelmingly by both parties as well. The Board is now making the claim that there was a mistake with the data that it created and was verified as being accurate by its accountants and lawyers. Obviously, that is not the case. An agreement is an agreement. It is unconscionable for the Board to make these claims after so much time has been invested in this process and so much effort was expended to ensure both transparency and accuracy, specifically to avoid precisely what the Board is now claiming.” 

Added EEA First Vice President Jon Lippi, who also was cheered when approaching the microphone, “The retro pay did not match the calculation, and food service workers and retired members did not receive any checks.” 

Hugelmeyer addressed the issue at the close of the public segment, explaining that the original calculations were based on salaries based on extended day schedule that had been discontinued after the 2014-2015 school year.

“There were delays in the issuance of the retroactive checks because there were disagreements of the amounts and the method of calculation, and that you can see that was reflected in my communication to you as well,” Hugelmeyer said. She continued to explain that the original data supplied to EEA members was calculated on incorrect salary guides based on a modified extended day schedule. “This should never have happened because the extended day had been eliminated the previous year,” she said. She maintained that the full two percent retroactive pay for school year 2015-16 has been paid, and that the two percent increase is now reflected in current pay checks.

Hugelmeyer also stated that food service employees had received an eight percent increase, so were not entitled to retroactive pay. Furthermore, she explained that the December payment went to active EEA members only. Retired members would receive theirs at a later date.

The Superintendent’s explanation received an angry response from the EEA members who then walked out in a group. Cortico later expressed dissatisfaction with Hugelmeyer’s explanation and indicated litigation might be the next step.  

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Elizabeth

Happenings this Week in the City of Elizabeth

June 19, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - Do you what is happening this week in Elizabeth? Here is a list by Mayor Bollwage’s office of events happening around the City.

Tuesday, June 19 - Completion Ceremony 

(11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., 40 West Jersey Street, Elizabeth) - The completion ceremony of the NJ Youth Corps of Elizabeth at the Union County College Kellogg Building. 

Wednesday, June 20 - ...

Make Music Roselle Park Lineup Includes Rock Bands, Singer-songwriters, Free Harmonica Lesson

ROSELLE PARK, NJ - The lineup for the first-ever Make Music Roselle Park will include two rock bands, a pair of singer-songwriters, a free beginner harmonica lesson and more.

The event being held on June 21, Make Music Roselle Park is part of Make Music Day, a global music celebration that takes place on the summer solstice each year and brings people of all ages and skill ...

Freeholder Board Announces Launch of Free Farmers’ Market Vouchers for Seniors

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has announced that the annual Farmers’ Market voucher program for seniors will begin again this summer. Starting on June 25, income-eligible adults age 60 and up can receive a total of $25 in free vouchers to purchase fresh produce at designated Farmers’ Markets throughout Union County.

The total of $25 is provided in $5 ...

Video: Union County Celebrates Pride Month with CommUNITY PRIDE Day Picnic

June 18, 2018

RAHWAY, NJ - Parents, children, friends, and all family members came out on Saturday afternoon to Rahway River Park for the Union County CommUNITY PRIDE Day Picnic.

The family-friendly celebration hosted by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, was a day of fun activities of arts and crafts, family lawn games, inflatable bounce houses, playground fun and more, along with music by the ...

Gov. Murphy still pushing a millionaire's tax, won’t say when he'll sign sports betting, weed bills

June 11, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - With a showdown on the state budget looming just 22 days away, Gov. Phil Murphy today re-emphasized his call for a tax on the state’s wealthiest households while hoping to avoid another shutdown of state government.

“Do I still want a millionaire’s tax? The answer is ‘yes,’ “ Murphy said at a press conference at the John ...

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 9, 2018

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by prominent ...

Union County Residents Can “Recycle Right” without Plastic Bags

June 19, 2018

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds residents that plastic bags and other excluded items cannot be recycled through their local curbside pick-up programs.

“Union County residents have a good recycling rate compared to other counties in our state, and we want to improve on this record and set a high bar,” said Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados. “Every ...