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Teacher union files unfair labor practice charges

JERSEY SHORE — The Jersey Shore Area Education Association has filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the Jersey Shore Area School District and board for a refusal to bargain and to bargain in good faith, according to information released by the state education association.

The charge was filed with the state Labor Relations Board by PSEA on behalf of the Jersey Shore education association.

The JSEA bargaining team authorized the filing based on their contention that the” school board has a legal obligation under Act 88 to meet with the union and to bargain in good faith, it has been seven month since the last bargaining meeting and that the school board’s team came unprepared to the last two bargaining meetings,” Cary Kurtz, PSEA UniServ Representative who is working with the JSAEA negotiations team said.

Kurtz also said the JSAEA bargaining team asked at the last meeting in June 2019 that the board’s team come back when it had a revised salary proposal. The school board proposal at the last meeting featured a 67 percent increase in health care costs for teachers, even though the education association contended that the teaching staff had taken on more work because of the reduction of 16 teaching positions in recent years.

“The district’s teachers live here, work here and are raising their families here. They take bargaining a responsible contract very seriously,” Kurtz said. “But, despite our efforts, the school board’s negotiations team seems intent on dragging out this process with unrealistic proposals.”

The release stated that the education association’s salary and benefits proposal is based on the district’s 2019-20 budget that was approved last year.

“We are unclear as to why the school board’s team would reject a proposal that is based on their own budget — which states exactly what they can pay in salary and benefits,” Kurtz said.

Kurtz added that “since the bargaining started in January 2019, the JSAEA has tried on numerous occasions to compromise to meet the school board’s demands. Yet, they have offered few changes.”

The filing also stated that both the state appointed mediator and the JSAEA team asked the board’s team for available meeting dates last fall and again at the beginning of this year, but that the board’s team has not even given the mediator or the JSAEA team “the courtesy of a response in over two months.”

PSEA’s release stated that “despite efforts by the union to schedule more bargaining sessions, the District has not responded to their requests.”

Teachers in the district began the current school year without a contract as a show of good faith. They have continued to work under the terms of the expired pact, receiving the same salary as the last school year.

“We made a promise in the beginning of bargaining to settle this contract collaboratively without discord, and that is what we still hope to achieve,” Kurtz said. “We are asking the school board’s negotiations team to do the same. We are asking the school board’s negotiations team to do the same. We have the same goa: a contract that enables the district to attract and retain quality educators, while at the same time begin responsive to the community’s financial constraints.”

“However, despite all the JSAEA’s efforts to compromise and bargain fairly, the school board has not been willing to compromise and seems intent on turning the contract issue into a community crisis,” according to the release.

When contacted, the district administration would not comment on this matter.

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