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MEA and Board of Ed Reach Settlement

Tentative agreement must go to vote with the teachers, but BOE thinks it is a good compromise.

After 16 months, the Board of Education and the teachers union have reached a tentative settlement on the – on their first night of having a fact finder from the state visit.

The fact-finding session occurred Tuesday night and the teachers rallied outside beforehand.

According to Mark Zucker, who is the chairman of the Millburn Board of Education’s negotiations team, the board and the union have signed a memorandum of agreement in which they “compromised on the language issue, provided a salary increase in line with what was provided to the non-aligned employees and to the MASA staff members, and provided a one time non-pensionable payment to compensate the MEA members for increased out of pocket health care expenses incurred during the period July 1, 2011 until April 1, 2012.”

At Monday’s school board meeting, in a discussion about the one-time payment  for MASA and non-aligned employees, it was mentiond that payment was approximately $1,750 per person.

said that as a result of this agreement, the membership will not need to provide receipts to prove their excess out-of-pocket expenses in order to be reimbursed but will instead receive an additional sum of money.

Lois Infanger, president of the MEA, said the two sides reached a settlement late on Tuesday night but the details still need to be presented to and voted on by the rest of the union members. Infanger said she could not discuss the matter until the ratification vote takes place.

Zucker, however said, “because we have not yet reached an agreement with respect to the salary guide, the cannot yet bring the document to the membership for ratification. We have not brought the proposed contract to the rest of the Board.”

The negotiations were handled by Zucker, board president Michael Birnberg and board member Sam Levy.

“We believe that this agreement represents a fair and equitable resolution to the problem and hope that the teachers will see likewise,” Zucker said. “We all recognize that the past few months have been stressful for the teachers, the Board, and (most importantly) for the students.”

Recently Infanger said that while the negotiations have been stressful for the teachers, they have still and kept the students’ best interests at heart.

The negotiations were long and drawn out, Infanger has said, because the BOE changed the t without negotiating and they left the the table. The two sides reached and early impasse and a mediator was brought in but unable to help the two sides reach an agreement -- that's when the state sent in a fact-finder

Millburn Schools Superintendent James Crisfield called the settlement “good news.”

Hedley May 03, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Believe it or not, I agree with Sophie. This is remarkable news. Getting the teachers to ultimately agree to only a 2% increase when they asked for 5% is a significant savings, in addition to the $30,000 in election costs saved. Bravo BOE, indeed!
Sophie May 03, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Hi Hedley I've been very concerned about you after reading today in The Item that the $30,000 that the district saved by moving the election to November has now been transferred to pay more lawyers and not used for the kids or for computers for the kids. I know that in your role as the protector of the children (and the computers) of Millburn you had always hoped that the election savings would go towards the kids and more computers. You must be very disappointed by this turn of events, especially since the money has gone to lawyers. As for the teachers' contract, I'm not very good in math but if the teachers receive an additional $1,750 on top of their 2% salary increase, doesn't that mean that they'll actually get a monetary increase for this year of 4% or more? How many BOE members are lawyers?
Hedley May 03, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Unfortunately, lawyers are a necessary evil and the cost of doing business. The fact that the election savings ($52,000 and not $30,000) went to lawyers, means that those funds didn't have to be taken from elsewhere in the operating budget. Still a realized savings that the BOE will continue to realize for at least the next 4 years. Hopefully next year lawyers won't be as needed. The stipend paid to the teachers is less than what was paid to the administrators and if that was the item that allowed a deal to be had and an end to the blue shirts, then I am ok with it.
Sophie May 03, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Hi Hedley -- Why don't we say that the teachers asked for a 20% increase? That way we can boast an even bigger savings with the only 2% increase that the BOE was able to negotiate. As for the healthcare stipend... again, I'm not very good at math but it does appear that we'll be paying out about $1,000,000 in stipends to the staff for this year alone. Does that sound right? Chances are that if the community had the opportunity to vote on that kind of an expenditure (at an election cost of even $52,000), they would have probably voted against it thus saving the district $948,000. Now that is some really significant savings!
Hedley May 03, 2012 at 10:17 PM
You can say they asked for whatever you want but the fact is they asked for 5% and settled for 2% Moreover, since the election was last month and the settlement isn't even final yet, there wouldn't have been anything to vote on. Of course, those few people who actually did come out to the BOE election in the past didn't vote on individual expenditures, but rather the overall budget. So even still, nothing to vote on. And even in your hypothetical world had they somehow rejected the expenditure, it then would have been approved by either the Township Council or the County - thus no savings by sticking it to the teachers. Sorry.
Sophie May 03, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Hi Hedley -- I continue to be very impressed with you. I didn't know that the teachers actually asked for 5%. I thought only BOE members know that kind of information. YOU ARE VERY IMPRESSIVE!!! Speaking about hypothetical, what if the district actually spent that $52,000 of election money on our kids instead of on more lawyers. Now how many lawyers are there on the BOE again?
MominSH May 03, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Keep in mind that a one time payment is always better than an overall increase, because when its time for the next % increase, the one time payment does not get included in the calculation. We see this all the time when someone wants a higher base salary, and they are offered a signing bonus instead. Its not the victory they may think it is.
Sophie May 04, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Hi MominSH -- Is it a "one time payment" or "setting a precedent?" We as moms (in Short Hills) know that once we let our kids watch TV late on a school night as a "one time event," we find that they always expect to watch TV late every school night. Sounds like those union negotiators outfoxed our BOE members (again). I think they need more practical everyday moms on that BOE rather than more theoretical attorneys. What do you think?
Hedley May 04, 2012 at 01:19 AM
That the teachers began negotiations by asking for a 5% increase was well established on Patch. You are new to town, so maybe you missed it.
Sophie May 04, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Hi Hedley -- I am new in town and I didn't see that 5% ask on the part of the teachers union nor can I find it in a search. Could you be a dear and point me to that reference? Thank you in advance for all your help. Where is M.Moore these days? I know that she's very busy but she's very knowledgeable and I always enjoy her contributions.
Hedley May 04, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Look harder. Patch had the information.
Sophie May 04, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Hi Hedley – I did check, and while a number of comments appear on the Patch board mentioning 5% from luminaries such as Pucci, jillp, MadinNJ, Marty Wilson, etc., there doesn’t appear to be any actual reporting in the Patch that the teachers’ ask was for a 5% salary increase. I’m certain you will agree that we cannot rely on those busybodies’ comments as fact since it's mostly conjecture and hyperbole. Someone with your integrity would never stoop to that level so it does appear that you have an inside source for your info since you’re always way ahead of everyone else. So who told you about the 5%? Was it Millerman? Or is he too busy these days trying to find a better fitting spandex superhero outfit? Poor thing. It must be devastating to one’s self-esteem when you have a bad body image.
sally May 04, 2012 at 12:53 PM
It is my understanding that the terms of the contract have not been made public. Where did you get your information? The union members do not even know what the contract will offer them.
sally May 04, 2012 at 12:55 PM
The one time payment was the result of an unfair labor practice issue with which that the BOE was charged.
Hedley May 04, 2012 at 02:44 PM
There absolutely was reporting on Patch. Not really hard to find. 5.2% was the actual initial ask. I'm sure your friends have it archived.
Sophie May 04, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Hi Hedley -- The earliest reference that I was able to find was from MarkDS from MarkDS: "MarkDS 7:52 am on Tuesday, March 1, 2011 Millburn has great teachers for the most part. But what the heck could their union be thinking? Coming in with a request for a 5.2% increase? Running to the state to declare an impasse after one meeting when their initial, inflated demands were not met? Expecting the district to request a waiver of the 2% cap in order for them to get a high salary increase. All of that is absurd in today's climate." Is this what you are referring to? Still not actual report, but rather a comment from another poster and we know we can't trust them as reliable sources. As for friends archiving this information, that's why you're here Hedley. I hope I can consider you a friend...
Hedley May 04, 2012 at 03:55 PM
You're getting warmer.
KLF May 04, 2012 at 04:55 PM
why is anyone even engaging with the 'sophie" dripping in saracasm and passive-aggression. Hit the ignore button.
Sophie May 04, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Hedley -- You're getting less believable.
Sophie May 04, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Hi KLF -- So nice hearing from you again. Having another tough day?
Hedley May 04, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Did you even look at the article MarkDS was commenting on? Not that hard to find.
M OKeef May 05, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Sally, in article above it says teacher contract will mirror MASA contract. Certainly teachers are aware of what MASA settlement was; as are community members;so even without releasing details of this agreement, it is easy to extrapolate from MASA settlement. No need for inside info.
Jamie M May 06, 2012 at 12:05 AM
NOT a teacher, but grateful to the ones I had from K thru grad school. Those payouts exist because the BOE caliously & illegally changed the medical plan, They showed complete disregard for the honor of a contract and for the dignity of the teachers. They were sued and LOST, TWICE. When finally ORDERED to heal the wound, they refused-- for over 6 months, A 2% "increase" is really NO increase. It is really a cut in pay. Teacher increases refer to the entire salary pool. As teachers go up in step a2% increase will be eaten up in step advancements. MASA members 3% increase is a TRUE increase as each of their salaries went up by 3%. Also many of them received 9,000 salary bumps. Plus their one time payment was $2,000. Teachers with 12 years experience get no more step increses. If lucky they get a few hundred dollars more. Thats less than one half of one percent. Further, teachers will soon be paying about $3,500 dollars in medical insurance, it means that the most experienced teachers ,adding inflation, will see their effective income DECREASE by about 6%. Also their new medical plan has gone UP by about 9% per year, teachers will continue to see their actual income DECREASE by 3-6 %, depending on inflation, per year for the REST of their teaching careers --- from 15-25 years! On top of that they get to read about our disgust for their "greed". Wonder why we have a serious shortage of math and science teachers.
Sandy May 06, 2012 at 03:40 PM
It's no wonder why Jamie's comment was the last...It was the ONLY one that provided facts and an understanding of the real situation. My feeling is that many people moved to this district years ago for the education. If you are so displeased, then move out. In fact, keep moving until you find the perfect, wealthy, but discounted education many of you seem to be looking for. You want authentic Prada for a knockoff price. That's all you're concerned about or let me say that's what you are portraying in your comments. I dare any of you with your scathing, sarcastic, and petty comments to spend a day in the classroom and be accountable to 20 or more students-before you agree consider that this means no nanny, no coaches, no teachers, no Starbuck breaks, (which, let's face it, realistically gives you 3 hours to spend with your children). So please stop thinking you know what you are talking about until you know exactly, firsthand what occurs in the schools. You talk about bonuses, when in fact, the first bonus that came with ratifying the teacher's contract meant as teachers they could go back spending more unpaid time with your children. In most worlds, this "bonus" comes at a price. So please know the reality before you create your own.
Millburn89 May 07, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Well said, Jamie! Let's show a little gratitude and respect for the professionals who spend their days with our children and don't ask for much in return!
Wendy May 08, 2012 at 12:26 AM
It is not the teachers. it is the UNIONS making things worse. We all know.
M OKeef May 08, 2012 at 10:42 AM
Also, grateful to MB teachers ...but ?? about this comment. The 2% increase is usually in ADDITION to the step increases, so Jaime why assume it is different this time? And the UNION decides how to allocate the increase across the steps, not BOE. Does a teacher max out on the steps after 12 years? Or has the union not spread the allocation evenly over the steps? The contributions for medical insurance are a result of a change in state law, not BOE. And the costs of insurance increasing, well welcome to the real world.Most taxpayers have been forced to make large contributions for health coverage decades ago so have little sympathy for this argument. In the past, teachers have been held harmless from premium increases, but the free ride is over.. The taxpayers have been very generous in supporting our teachers. They have excellent pay and benefits. Try looking on the positives. I hope all are able to put the recent negativity behind them and move forward positively.
Jamie M May 11, 2012 at 06:20 PM
The 2% increase IS THE only increase and it ALL applies to the common pool of money. Your assumption is wrong. As for the guide, the BOE as well as the union work out the allocations. Not just the union. As for the medical, again your comment is typical of the degrading attitude towards the teachers. Going into the profession, they knew that they were never going to "get rich". In the "Real World". as you put it, people get raises AND bonuses for their efforts. I'd like to see ANY executive accept performing well and then being told they will NEVER get any real salary increase for the rest of their career. The trade off was always understood to be good health benefits. That is gone now. Also teachers pay almost 9% of their gross salary to their pension fund, up 2% in addition to the 35% they must pay for their medical. Unlike YOU, they will NEVER be able to absord these ever increasing costs because there is no real advancement as well as a ceiling on salary. Your sarcastic comment about a "free ride" being over is exactly my point. These people are not your landscaper or your housepainter. They are , next to the parents/grandparents, the most infulential adult in our children's lives. Hurtful and dismissive comments makes their already difficult job nearly impossible. The children mimmick the attitudes of their parents and take it into the school.
M OKeef May 11, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Jaime, "not a teacher": how do you know so much about the details about this offer if you are not a teacher ? I don't believe there will no longer be step increases for seniority and additional education (Masters, PhD) in addition to the 2% annual increase. Teachers were getting $10,000 bumps for additional education, that's no longer going to be the case? Also NO not every employee gets bonuses, many only get their salary and possibly an annual raise. In past few years, not everyone has gotten a raise. Some are unemployed. Private employers have been passing big benefit cost increases along to employees for decades. And news flash, most employees no longer have any defined, guaranteed pension AT ALL. Non civil union employees have to save what they can from their after tax income and invest those savings and hope there is enough appreciation in value by the time they want to retire. Many have little savings. They would love to contribute 9% and have a pension when they want to retire.
Jamie M May 11, 2012 at 10:48 PM
M OKeef, accuse me of lying about my trade if you wish, I dont care. I have worked in the private sector for 28 years & have made an excellent living. I also pay my "fair shair" of taxes. Much to your dismay I am not a teacher, I could not do the job. It takes a special person to handle all that that job requires. Furthermore, I could not do it while knowing the distain people like yourself have for teachers. I know that each year, if I produce, I will be rewarded. I also know that if my medical insurance goes up, I can cover it. Teachers have no such hopes. A productive, veteran teacher knows there is no financial "reward" for their efforts. No hope of "promotion". As for pensions, companies MATCH employee 401K contributions &higher salaries make it easier to put money away. Teachers don't get that benefit. Yes there are private sector woes and I have had to , over the years, let some staff go, But it is a risk reward proposition. When private sector income was rising by double digits no one was concerned teacher salaries rose a mere 3%. Also, do your research and see that there have been thousands of teachers let go do to the economy. I also note you sidestepped the issue of your degrading attitude toward teachers. I also find it interesting that you are so worried about the meager increases your taxes provide teachers, but you have no problem sending 17% of your property taxes to subsidize Newark. That the real monster in the closet.

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