Bayonne teachers’ contract talks fall apart
Aug 28, 2014 | 4393 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bayonne Board of Education headquarters.  (File photo)
Bayonne Board of Education headquarters. (File photo)
BAYONNE – Wednesday night, Aug. 27 at 9 p.m. was the witching hour, as settlement talks among the Bayonne Teachers Association and the Bayonne Board of Education and city officials broke down, virtually assuring that city teachers – already without a contract nearly five years – will report to school next week in the same situation.

In a news release disseminated by the administration of Mayor James Davis early afternoon on Thursday, Aug. 28, the city charged that BTA President Alan D’Angelo rejected the deal, one which added a fifth year and which included $1.5 million in additional money for teachers. The deal would also have avoided a tax increase for residents, according to the city.

The negotiations had been ongoing throughout the summer, but seemed to pick up steam this week, sources said, when all parties first gathered on Monday and continued to negotiate through Wednesday night, Aug. 27.

“My administration worked with the board of education to find additional funding and, as a result, they offered the teachers’ union president a five-year contact with new money and new incentives for teachers and he’s outright rejected it,” Davis said in the release. “We’ve moved the needle on money for teachers and the term of the contract and the union president is telling us ‘No.’”

“We’re less than half a million dollars apart in the negotiation process and the teachers union has left the bargaining table,” Davis said. “The teachers’ union president is being completely unreasonable and is putting his own ego above the needs of his members.”

According to sources, the negotiating gap had been whittled down to about $450,000 in total, and that the city had offered to split that deficit with the union.

Reached on Thursday afternoon, D’Angelo was reluctant to talk about the negotiations as a whole or contract terms specifically.

“I don’t have any comment going forward on any of this; it’s too delicate a situation right now,” D’Angelo said. “Because I don’t have one [a contract] at this point, there’s nothing I can discuss.”

Davis was adamant that the union leadership was the impediment to striking a deal, and was cautionary in what the breakdown in the talks would mean.

“If the union doesn’t approve this contract, every teacher’s take-home pay is going to go down due to increased healthcare costs – but we can prevent that by approving this contract,” he said. “By result, teachers would receive their long, overdue retro pay.”

A source close to the negotiations said that some teachers would have received $30,000 retroactive checks.

The news release stated that under the agreement terms proposed by the Board of Education, teachers would have received: four years of retroactive pay, providing them with retroactive money in their first paycheck of the school year; a 10-percent increase over the five-year period, and an enhancement to the teachers’ “step” process.

“This proposed agreement puts money in teachers’ pockets while protecting taxpayers,” Davis said.

“I can’t even tell you I’m optimistic about this,” D’Angelo said, “because I spent eight and a half hours with them yesterday and things changed – conservatively – seven times.”

D’Angelo said the negotiations adjourned 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27 with a lack of agreement on “several items.” --Joseph Passantino

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