WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Board of Education has proposed a significant increase in salary raises that would deliver a 13-percent increase in salaries for the West Orange Education Association (WOEA) members over five years, and would send all members of the WOEA a retroactive pay check, in June. Additionally, the health benefits that we have proposed are highly competitive in the state, save the WOEA members and the District money, and represent a substantial improvement over current options. The board of education is working hard and with a sense of great urgency to bring reconciliation, and a positive conclusion to the negotiations with the WOEA.

This document is in response to the information sent out on Thursday, May 18, 2017 to the West Orange Education Association (WOEA) by the WOEA Leadership Team.

After nearly two years of negotiations and mediation, the West Orange Board of Education presented the West Orange Education Association with a proposed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to settle the collective negotiations process.

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On April 17, 2017, the Board and Association signed a Tentative Agreement for health benefits and salaries.

On April 25, 2017, the WOEA president sent a list of 37 open items to still be negotiated with some new items that were never presented during the 2 year negotiation process. The Board had approximately 40 open items, however, the Board was willing to withdraw those important items in an effort to settle the contract immediately.

On April 28, 2017, some of the WOEA items were able to get resolved during a negotiations session with the mediator. The Board presented no open items at the mediation session.

On May 12, 2017, the Board’s attorney received a 5 page document from the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) UniServ representative with open items to be negotiated.

On May 15, 2017, the Board responded to the May 12, 2017 document and agreed to some of the items from the 5 page document.

The following terms are the significant highlights contained in the board’s proposed MOA, according to the superintendent.

To date, the association’s negotiations team has not accepted the board’s offer. The board’s settlement proposal is contingent on the proposed MOA being fully ratified by both parties before June 1, 2017. Without ratification before June 1, 2017, the health benefit changes cannot go into effect as of Aug. 1, 2017.

The board will be unable to maintain these proposed terms if the proposed MOA is not ratified by both parties before June 1, 2017.

Duration of Contract (PREAMBLE): July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2020

Wages (ARTICLE VI – COMPENSATION):

  • Increase WOEA salaries (certificated and non-certificated) inclusive of increment by 13% over the life of the contract. WOEA unit members covered under this agreement shall receive full retroactive pay from July 1, 2015 including those members whose employment with the district has been severed:
  • The Salary Guides prepared by the West Orange Education Association shall be utilized subject to cost verification by the parties prior to ratification. After verifying the percentage increase of each guide, it was determined that the proposed guides from the Association exceed the agreed upon increase of 2.60% + $75,600.
  •  Longevity structure shall remain unchanged for all WOEA members, except security guards longevity will be modified as follows: $2,000 for 14-18 years of service and in 2019-2020 a $3,000 step shall be added for 19-23 years of service.
  •  Members who have been granted an unpaid leave of absence of any type must work 91 days (half of the school year) within the school year to advance on the salary guide. Sick days, personal days, vacation days and transfer of sick days by donation count towards the 91 days.
  •  The parties agree that if a member works at least 91 days in a school year and thereafter is absent for the entire subsequent school year on a Board-approved leave of absence, that member will be placed on the next step of the salary guide in the year that he/she returns. Should the salary of the next step be less than the salary of the previous step that the member occupied, the member’s salary shall be “red-circled” (not reduced) and shall be paid an additional $1,500 to his/her base salary for the year in which he/she returns. In the subsequent year, the member will resume normal salary guide progression on the appropriate salary guide. The problem exists because the WOEA proposed salary guides include certain steps that devalue from year to year. Initially the Board offered $1,000 which was rejected by the WOEA leadership team. In a good faith effort, the Board increased the proposed amount to $1,500.  
  •  Members who are hired on or before February 1 of any school year are eligible to advance as per the negotiated settlement for the given year. Members hired after February 1 of any school year or who work 90 days or less (half of the school year), shall not advance on the salary guide in the following school year. Should the salary of the step in the subsequent year be less than the previous step that the member occupied, the member’s salary shall be “red-circled” (not reduced).
  • There shall be no retroactive imposition of Chapter 78 contributions upon payment of retroactive pay to those members entitled to receive same in accordance with the terms of this agreement.

Work Hours and Work Load (ARTICLE V): Section A.4., Second Paragraph: Replace first full sentence with the following: “In no case shall a mandatory coverage assignment result in a teacher being denied a duty-free lunch.”

Tuition Reimbursement (ARTICLE XVIII – PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATIONAL IMPROVEMENT)

  • If a member who is eligible for tuition reimbursement is terminated for any reason other than for just cause, but followed all procedures to be reimbursed, the member shall receive reimbursement. A member who submits a letter of resignation in lieu of non-renewal for poor teaching performance shall receive reimbursement according to the provision of this article.
  • A member who voluntarily resigns or leaves the district shall not be reimbursed in accordance with N.J.S.A. 18A:6-8.5 and 18A:6-8.6 and the provisions of this Article.

Health Benefits (ARTICLE XX – INSURANCE PROTECTION)

  • Accept the Board’s health benefits package of Direct Access 10/20 and High Deductible Plan including elimination of prescription reimbursement through major medical.
  •  If an MOA is not agreed upon by June 1, 2017, the Board will lose the projected savings of approximately $112,000 per month from the newly proposed Direct Access 10/20 and High Deductible Plan.
  • If an MOA is not agreed upon by June 1, 2017, the High Deductible Plan (HDP) will not be implemented until January 1, 2018.
  • Members who select the HDP will be provided with a Health Reimbursement Account (“HRA”) and the Board will be responsible for fifty (50%) percent of the member’s annual deductible under the HDP. Members who select the HDP will be entitled to additional monetary (non-pensionable) payments equal to fifty (50%) percent of his/her deductible amount under the HDP, which shall be paid to the member in his/her first paycheck of the school year (2017), less all applicable withholdings.
  • Starting in January 2018, and each January thereafter, because the deductible period resets, the Board will fully fund the HRA to fifty (50%) percent of the members annual deductible, and the additional monetary (non-pensionable) payments equal to fifty (50%) percent of the member’s deductible amount under the HDP, which shall be paid to the member in his/her first paycheck in January of each year.
  • Should a member who has received these additional monies leave the District, he/she is responsible for repaying the District the pro-rata amount for the period of time remaining for the year in which he/she received the additional monies within thirty (30) days of separation.
  • Members shall continue contributions to his/her health care in accordance with the Tier IV rates set forth in Chapter 78, P.L. 2011, as agreed to by all other collective bargaining units in the district.
  • Opting Out of Benefit Package: Members, excluding paraprofessionals, will receive health benefits waivers at a rate of $4000 for Family/2Adults/Parent&Child/Single coverage. Paraprofessionals will receive $2000 who waive Single coverage.

All other terms previously agreed to by the parties during the last two years.

It is important to note that the board ratified contracts with the other collective bargaining units on the dates listed below. The contracts are from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2019.

May 23, 2016 – Local 68 (PT Bus Drivers and Monitors)
October 19, 2016 – Local 68 (FT Custodians, Maintenance, Grounds and Bus Drivers) December 12, 2016 – WOAA (West Orange Administrators Association)

Again, the board’s goal is to close out a very difficult school year by finalizing the contract and distributing retroactive pay to all members of the WOEA in June. We are hopeful that this goal may still be achieved.