You have all heard the saying, when one door opens, another one closes. Well the NTU doesn’t accept that willingly. When one door opens and another one closes we stick our foot in the door jam and demand to know what’s going on in there.
The open door: The acting Commissioner of Education Kimberley Harrington has declined to exercise her discretion to allow a Petition for Declaratory Ruling on Larisa Shambaugh’s removal from her position as Chief Talent Officer. As per our alternate request, the case will proceed on Appeal. This comes as no surprise, since this is how the previous Commissioner handled the matter with respect to her discredited predecessor Vanessa Rodriguez. We now await assignment of an Administrative Law Judge, first to hear the Appeal, and then, the ultimate hearing in this matter.
The closed door: After many months of hard-fought litigation, a judge in Essex County declared the Supplemental Fringe Benefits Fund ultra vires, or void, on Friday. Notwithstanding the fact that the Fund has been in existence for over 40 years, the Court found that the NPS did not have the authority to create the Fund for purposes of contracting with the Union's supplemental fringe benefits providers.
The Court also held that the Fund's selection of the supplemental fringe benefits providers interfered with the Newark Public School's managerial right to select a provider and control the costs of such benefits. We do not anticipate that this will have an immediate impact on the existing supplemental fringe benefits plans and they should remain intact for the remainder of the existing contracts.
The manner in which the attack on our Fund was carried out is the perfect defense for its existence. We believe that this level of absolute power corrupts absolutely and denies employees a rightful place at the table that determines their benefits, so we plan on seeking an appeal of this decision dissolving the Fund and will provide additional information as it becomes available.
John M Abeigon
President & Director of Organization
Newark Teachers Union, Local 481, AFT, AFL-CIO