ELIZABETH, NJ - The city’s Board of Education reached a $6 million settlement agreement with the local teachers’ union over grievances that said instructors were scheduled to work extra class periods.
Five separate grievances were filed by the Elizabeth Education Association (EEA) which sought compensation for all K-8 teachers from the district's 32 schools, who the union says, were scheduled to work in excess of 723,580 periods for about the past six years.
The settlement will result in back pay for about 500 to 600 affected EEA members, and awards could range anywhere from several hundred dollars to over $14,000, EEA Vice President Jon Lippi said. Payments will be issued to affected teachers beginning July 30.
“The EEA would like to emphasize that, at all times throughout the course of this arbitration, it has been led by one guiding principle – the best interests of its membership,” Lippi said, adding that the union was "very pleased" with the settlement.
The agreement was reached on June 29 through a Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) arbitrator. The original grievances nor the settlement agreement are public records, PERC General Counsel Robin McMahon told TAP.
The Board of Education confirmed the $6 million settlement in a press release. It said the settlement was related to a “long-time disagreement on compensation for kindergarten through eighth grade teachers related to scheduling changes and preparation time going back to 2010.”
Members affected by the K-8 grievance will be contacted by the Board of Education via letter, the union said. It will outline the number of excess periods each teacher was scheduled to work and their individual payment as a result of the settlement.
The EEA said that both parties relied on scheduling data that was "forensically determined" in order to calculate the total number of extra periods teachers worked. The per-period rate was negotiated based on the total settlement value divided by the number of excess periods.
Teachers who worked in excess periods during one or all of the six years involved in the grievances will receive back pay, the union said. Affected teachers will be compensated based on the total number of excess periods they worked times the per-period rate.
Meanwhile, EEA members ratified on June 23 a three-year contract in a Memorandum of Agreement vote. The Board of Education approved the contract on June 29 at its special meeting, where the settlement agreement was also approved.
“The Elizabeth schools and our community are truly a family and a team,” Board of Education President Stanley Neron said in a statement. “This [contract] ensures continuity of our programs and shows that we value our employees.”