Teachers rally amidst contract negotiations

photo+courtesy+of+SPFEA

photo courtesy of SPFEA

Alexa Melnitsky

Outside the Board of Education office on Evergreen Street, on Dec. 11, about 250 Scotch Plains-Fanwood Education Association members gathered to show unity in the negotiations for their contracts. In addition, they helped collect toys and garments for Students Concerned for the Needy’s annual holiday toy drive, to exemplify their devotion and commitment to the community.
“It was a moment for us to give back to the community,” Dan Valentine, Vice President of the SPFEA, said. “We gathered a pick up truck load of toys and scarves and mittens that were donated to SCN so that they can make sure that they get good placements in the local community. We’re really proud of the donations that the members came together with yesterday.”

photo courtesy of SPFEA

The rally simultaneously allowed for members of the SPFEA to voice their concerns regarding their contracts, and their aim for a fair deal. Among chants for a fair deal, the rally exemplified the unity among the SPFEA.
Due to the expiration of the teacher contract in June 2018, teachers have expressed their concerns over the fulfillment of their new contract, as they are making less money than they had been making previously and are currently working without a contract. This resulted in the subsequent negotiations with the Board of Education. They have been meeting since May 2018, and prepared negotiations a month in advance.
“[The SPFEA and the Board of Education] are invested in making sure that Scotch Plains is the best school system in New Jersey,” Valentine said. “We have priorities on our side and ideas of the ways that we can make sure that this is the best environment to teach students in. And the Board of Education has different ideas about what they need to do. Because [we have different constituencies] we have slightly different ideas about how we can move the school district forward.”
Regardless of the stalemate, both sides still have one priority in mind: the students.
“All of us are excited to work here and are definitely motivated and want to make sure that at the end of the day, students are first,” Valentine said.
The Fanscotian has reached out to the board for comment.
Negotiations are ongoing between the Board of Education and the Scotch-Plains Fanwood Education Association,” said Dr. Margaret Hayes, Superintendent of Scotch Plains-Fanwood schools. “The Board is bargaining in good faith. While negotiations are in progress, neither the Board nor I can comment on any specifics, as we do not bargain in public.  The Board is hoping to reach a mutually successful agreement.”