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.”