ROXBURY, NJ - The Roxbury Board of Education's contract negotiations committee today distributed a press release related to its ongoing contract negotiations with the Roxbury Education Association.
The press release is being published as sent, with only minor changes to conform to TAPinto Roxbury style:
The Roxbury Board of Education maintains its vision for negotiations: Create a fair and equitable contract for all members of the Roxbury Education Association (REA), (as the board did last summer for the administrators and teamsters), ensure fiscal responsibility so that the contract is sustainable in the future and support the needs of our students.
In hopes of attaining these goals, the board would like to provide the community with information to present an accurate account of negotiations.
The board values our teachers, secretaries, paraprofessionals, maintenance, grounds, and mechanics and recognizes that we all work together to provide the best opportunities for our students to grow and flourish. As such, in May 2017, the board offered the REA a one-year extension to the current contract in the hopes that negotiations could proceed while the REA worked under a “live” contract that included an equitable raise while staying on the 2016-2017 step.
The board offered a 2.5 percent increase on the base with the stipulation that the increase be the same dollar value for each individual within their unit. Therefore, each individual would have experienced the following increases for the 2017-2018 school year with the 2017-2018 salary guide being changed to reflect this increase:
Paraprofessionals 46 cents per hour
The REA rejected this proposal.
Between May 2017 and November 2017, there were seven joint meetings held to continue negotiations. Meanwhile, the board was still waiting for the REA’s salary/health benefits proposal.
On November 28, 2017, the REA decided to file for mediation. The first mediation meeting occurred on Feb. 26, where the REA finally presented their only salary/health benefits proposals to the board. The proposals which included both a salary increase and a roll-back in benefits contribution constituted over a 10.5 percent increase over three years, which is NOT sustainable or fiscally responsible. The board does NOT want to cut programs or lose teachers to maintain an irresponsible settlement.
The board’s current proposals provide for
- A salary increase that is competitive
- A relief in insurance contribution
Key changes include the following:
- co-pay on health insurance from $10 to $20
- prescription co-pay from $10/15 to $20/40
The Board proposes that district savings be shared with the employees while still maintaining the same “Cadillac” insurance plan with the minor co-pay adjustments. The Board’s proposal does not contain reductions to the current plan benefits. Insurance changes have been accepted by two other bargaining units who did agree and received higher salary increases with decreased benefit costs for the employee and the District.
Currently, the REA members’ insurance costs $8.9 million per year, with the District paying approximately 80 percent of the total costs. Currently, the REA is proposing the district pay a larger percentage of the total costs.
A change in the co-pay would benefit the employee two-fold: a reduction of contribution AND a higher salary increase that would allow us to sustain the contract and maintain our employee roster and quality instructional programs.
The REA rejected this proposal - again. No negotiation.
The board, once again, is ready and willing to negotiate a fair and equitable contract that supports our outstanding staff and students and is fiscally responsible and sustainable for our community. The REA’s refusal to negotiate has resulted in our moving to the Fact Finding process.
Given the long lead times in obtaining a state Fact Finder, this means that we will not be at the bargaining table again until next fall. The board finds the current stance of the association to be unacceptable and remains available to continue a productive negotiations process while preparing for the fact finding.
Respectfully submitted by the Negotiations Committee of the Roxbury Board of Education