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Letter From the President - January 2016


While the now discredited Cami Anderson was still in office and the current SAS Sup't Chris Cerf was N.J. Commissioner of Education, they agreed to the following language in our contract regarding Supplemental Fringe Benefits:

1. That the SFBF shall solicit open market competitive quotes on the entire supplemental employee benefit package bargaining unit members.

2. That the SFBF shall, after review of all quotes, review and select a benefit provider.

3. That the SFBF shall inform the Newark Public Schools and the Union of the name of the selected benefit provider, the premium cost and the level of benefits.

Why then does Cerf, just as we are about to begin negotiations, take it upon himself to award a "no bid" prescription plan contract to politically connected BeneCard?

To date you have no facts or information regarding this unilateral change to your benefits—what does that tell you?  Our research tells us that statewide BeneCard copay's can range from $15-20. Depending on your situation this could be devastating. If the punch in the face doesn't upset you, maybe the dent in your budget should.

Are we upset, certainly, especially in light of negotiations that are about to begin. But, we hope that cooler heads and the legal system will prevail and rule in our favor. In the meantime we must urgently take united action. As educators we must show SAS Cerf that decisions have consequences.

You-with the asthmatic child, you with the diabetes, YOUR presence at the next board meetings to show your righteous indignation, can help us make a difference. Together as part of the Union that fought long and hard to have these benefits; as part of a history; stand in the place of that teacher (who didn't know you) who 30 years ago risked her job but stood afraid yet strong and united in the fight for her rights and your benefits. We are all her beneficiaries.

John M. Abeigon

President & Director of Organization

Newark Teachers Union, Local 481, AFT, AFL-CIO

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