ROXBURY, NJ – Their frustration mounting, several hundred Roxbury teachers picketed Tuesday evening and were joined by supportive colleagues from at least six other North Jersey school districts.
Carrying placards and dressed in black T-shirts with the slogan “The Best Teaching the Brightest,” the teachers protested in front of Lincoln-Roosevelt School on North Hillside Avenue. The gathering took place ahead of a meeting of the Roxbury Board of Education.
“It’s always about priorities,” said New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) Vice President Marie Blistan, who attended the rally. “This board of education has sent a message: It’s priority is not the teaching staff.”
About 450 Roxbury School District employees, including teachers, secretaries, para-professionals and maintenance staff, are working without a contract. The prior contract expired June 30, 2014, something Blistan deemed “disgraceful in this day and age.”
Also attending was NJEA Field Representative John Williams. He said teachers from Chester, Jefferson, Morris Hills, Wharton, Rockaway, Pequannock and Morris Plains came to help the Roxbury union members express their dissatisfaction. Motorists passing the demonstration sometimes tooted horns, eliciting applause from the marching teachers.
Williams said the union and the school board are mainly locked over salaries. He said pay raises have not kept pace with required contributions for pensions and health insurance.
A Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) factfinder has declared an impasse and has scheduled a hearing for Oct. 6.