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Contract Q+A with President Abeigon

 

Reminder: Contract Ratification vote is Monday, August 26 ,2019 from 7 AM to 7 PM at the Newark Teachers Union, 1019 Broad Street. All members are welcome to vote!

Why is it important to vote?

This contract removes the last vestiges of corporate reform from the district.  No more renew schools, no more performance pay.  This contract is a message to our enemies that your evil is not welcome in Newark or any other public schools.

Where can I find the contract information?

http://newark.nj.aft.org/contract-update/contract-ratification-information

What if I have questions?

We will have staff available all day on Monday to answer those questions.  You can also send an email to contract@newarkteachersunion.com before then.

How will the voting work?

The Newark Teachers Union will be open from 7 AM to 7 PM for voting.  Only members are eligible to vote.  Please bring a paystub and/or ID so we can verify membership.  If we can’t verify your membership, you can fill out a membership card and you would be immediately allowed to vote.

We would recommend you come to vote in AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE!  The back parking lot will be open on both Beecher Street and Halsey Street.

Why weren’t the two steps frozen in 2012 restored in this contract?

The district is still going through a massive $119 million shortfall.  Getting to this contract was difficult.  There is always more that we would like to see, but this contract is well above state averages and came with no givebacks.  The 2012 freezes were 7 years and three superintendents ago.  At this point, any staff member hired after 2012 has no idea what the freezes were.  A number of impacted staff have retired or hit the top of the guide, so restoration would not have impacted those staff at all.  We ensured that every staff member on every step received significant raises.  We also began the process of combining steps to ensure staff can move up the guides quicker.

This is not a closed issue, by any means.  We have spoken with the superintendent at great length about continuing to revisit this issue and discuss possible solutions during the life of this current contract. 

Why didn’t we get Chapter 78 Relief?

Similar to the above answer, it is a financial issue. The cost of premiums continue to go up each year for the district.  Everyone in the district wants Chapter 78 relief, including the Superintendent!  He pays for his benefits and sees the costs rising just like the rest of us do.  There have been very few districts in the state that have been able to offer Chapter 78 relief in the current budgetary climate. 

In districts where there have been reductions in healthcare costs, there have been massive layoffs and additional salary freezes.  Our relief can’t come at the expense of another’s suffering. 

https://www.nj.com/hudson/2019/05/200-jersey-city-teachers-got-layoff-notices-this-week-officials-say.html

Like step restoration, this is a conversation we will continue to have with the Superintendent.  The Superintendent has expressed interest in opening more schools and bringing in more students starting next year.  Charging us a percentage of the premiums rather than basing our payments on our salary would be an equitable start.

Why didn’t I get a 2.85% raise?

The percentage increases announced for each year are the total increased amount that the district will spend on salaries. Given the structure of salary guides, each individual’s raise may end up being more than or less than the announced percentage. NTU and NBOE worked hard to ensure the distribution was fair and equitable.

This increase also doesn’t include the numerous other compensation increases throughout this contract. 

  • In our surveys, staff wanted more for extracurriculars (now co-curriculars)!  WE GOT IT!
  • Staff wanted higher summer rates!  WE GOT IT!
  • Staff wanted more for discretionary funds!  WE GOT IT!
  • Staff wanted more for tuition reimbursement!  WE GOT IT!
  • Also the cost of implementing the new MA and PhD guides were not included in this 2.85%

How do I read the salary progressions?

Find your base salary on the ”2018-2019” column. Your base salary does not include your longevity or additional stipends. 

- Move one column to the right to determine your new base salary for 2019-2020. 

- Keep moving one column over for each year of the contract. 

Why don’t I see my salary on any guide?

While there are a variety of reasons someone may be off guide (withholdings of increment, demotion from a higher paid position), in most of the cases it is because staff is looking at the base salary which does not include longevities or coaching stipends.  If you have any questions about your salary, please send them to contract@newarkteachersunion.com

What are the differences between Legacy and Earned Guides?

The Legacy Guides are grandfathered guides for staff who had their degrees or equivalencies before the 2012 contract.

The Earned Guides were created as part of our arbitration award for the district’s failure to implement the 2012 contract.  In the first year of the contract, Staff with MA’s will get $1,000 higher than someone with a BA.  Staff with PhD’s will get $2,000 higher than someone with a BA.  Starting in the second year of the contract, this numbers will increase to $2,000 for MA and $4,000 for PhD.

While it was certainly our goal to get back to one simple system, it would have left a lot of staff out in the cold.  The Universal Guide has 19 steps while the old Traditional Guides have 17 steps.  We also had to ensure that staff who had equivalencies would be grandfathered in (the arbitration award and contracts do not allow for equivalencies to be recognized for salary advancement moving forward, just full degrees).

For staff on the Legacy guides who have full degrees, they will be able to move to the Earned Guides if it is financially advantageous for them (that will usually be when they reach the top step).  We will be working to phase out the Legacy guide entirely in the future to have one simple, easy to manage system like we had before corporate reformers.   Reconstruction does take time.