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Teachers, School District Still at Impasse

Mediation's over; fact-finding begins May 1.

Since Millburn teachers and the School District haven't reached an agreement on a contract after 15 months, the state will send in a “fact finder” to analyze the situation, write a report and make recommendations to both parties.

This marks the end of mediation, which left the district and the teachers still disagreeing on “three words” in the contract.

The fact finder will come to Millburn on May 1 to begin the process, said president Lois Infanger.

“I don’t know how long it will take because we have never been to fact-finding before,” she said. “At least not as long as I can remember, and I’ve been here 24 years.”

Meanwhile, the teachers continue to exercise their right to work to the terms of their contract, also known as “work to rule.”

That means teachers are staying after school until the time they are allowed to go home, and they aren’t putting in the extras like attending activities or decorating the bulletin boards in the schools.

“But we are available every day after school for students or any parent with a question,” Infanger said. “Education is first, and no one’s education will be compromised in any way. I cannot emphasize that enough.”

At a recent Millburn Board of Education Meeting, Board Member Mark Zucker, who heads the negotiations with the union, told the public that they are “three words away from an agreement.”

“Those are three very important words,” he said, adding he felt an agreement could be reached soon.

Infanger on Monday night after a school board meeting said those three words, which pertain to health benefits, could preserve the teachers’ right of collective bargaining when it comes to that issue, and that is important to them, she said.

“That’s one of the things, by law, we have the right to use collective bargaining for,” she said. “All we want to do is be part of the conversation.”

Schools Superintendent Dr. James Crisfield said recently that both sides are working to find three other words that everyone can agree on and that teachers have a right to “work to rule.”

“This is no different than any collective bargaining,” he said a couple of weeks ago. “There are laws in place to protect workers and there’s an existing agreement. Many teachers go above and beyond every day, and for now, they are choosing not to do that until an agreement is reached.”

J S Beckerman April 10, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Teachers everywhere are underappreciated and, realtively speaking, underpaid. We trust our children's futures to them and I am on the side of the teachers on this battle.
J S Beckerman April 10, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Teachers everywhere are underappreciated and, relatively speaking, underpaid. We trust our children's futures to them and I am on the side of the teachers on this battle.
Sophie April 10, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Oh my! We're all dying to know what those three words are and Dr. Zucker really left us in the lurch this time! I've been in negotiations in the past where those three words amounted to telling me where I can go. At a different negotiation, those three words were a directive as to what I should go and do to myself. I wonder if any of these are the same three words in this negotiation? Any guesses?
Nantz April 11, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Get good ol' Nancy Siegel in there. She negotiated the UAW 267 negotiations in 1972.
MOMSH April 12, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Is this really in the town's and school's best interest at this point? Anyone know what happens next with this "fact finder"? At what point do we risk a walk out by the teachers(can they do this)?
KLF April 12, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Illegal for teachers to strike in NJ.
Marty Wilson April 12, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Teachers have been defacto striking. they do their silly blue shirt dance before school starts, they have not been correcting homework, assigning as much work, have not been giving out detensions or enforcing rules about texting/cell phone calling during school hours. It is a somewhat lawless environment - and based on my several kids who have gone through or are going thru the M school system, this year is substandard due to unprofessional actions by the teachers. My kids tell me the teachers complain that they are working without a contract. do kids need to hear that stuff?
Marty Wilson April 12, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Nancy Siegel runs the school, if you are on her good side, your kid does well - if not, uh-oh.
Marty Wilson April 12, 2012 at 10:43 PM
I think it was the teachers' union saying 'kiss my a!*'
Sophie April 13, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Hi Marty Wilson -- Lawless environment in our schools even with a new sheriff in town (or because of it)? Has management lost control?
baxter April 13, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Is it too dangerous for students to be in schools? Worried for kids.
J. Keogh April 13, 2012 at 03:38 AM
The work to rule situation is back firing; the teachers ought to take a vote immediately to get rid of the MEA president. Most teachers don't want any part of this work to rule directive thrown at them. I truly believe that the teachers really care about our kids and are now backed in to a corner by the MEA leadership. Bullying.
baxter April 13, 2012 at 04:32 AM
TThey cann stop to wear blue shirts, talk about no contract, vote with actions.
Sophie April 13, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Mr. Wilson -- They could have said that with just two words "Mo' money!"
Sophie April 13, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Hi baxter -- I happen to like the teachers in the blue shirts. They look more team-like when they're all wearing those blue shirts. Now that the weather is nice, I hope a few of them show up with blue & white pompoms and start doing somersaults and tumbling routines in front of the schools in the morning. Now that would be entertaining (and educational)!

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