Hours into their first strike in 20 years, 1000s of fired up Jersey City teachers participated in a lively protest at the board of education headquarters this morning.
“No contract, no work!,” the teachers chanted repeatedly over the sound of whistles blowing and drums beating at 346 Claremont Ave, also sporting a number of creative signs such as “Terminate Chapter 78 (with a picture of the Terminator) and “In Dr. Lies We Don’t Trust,” mocking Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marcia Lyles.
JCEA Executive Board Recording Secretary Kristen Zadroga Hart helped rally the troops as she spoke to her colleagues through a megaphone.
“Dr. Lyles: I brought a few thousand of my closest friends!,” she began, thanking everyone who attended to loud cheers and applause.
“As we speak, [JCEA President] Ron Greco and the negotiations team are at the JCEA office now negotiating for a fair and equitable contract. JCEA is willing to remain there until this happens: we don’t care if it’s an hour, a day or a week.”
Following Hart was New Jersey Education Association Vice President Sean Spiller, who commended all the teachers in attendance for taking a firm stance on affordable healthcare.
“This fight, that you guys are leading the way on, is about respect, dignity and fighting for our families just as much as the families that we teach each and every day. Chapter 78 is killing us and it’s killing our profession,” he exclaimed.
“These elected officials, school board officials and others, cannot keep saying ‘educators are the most important thing in the world, but we’re gonna keep paying you less every year to do it.'”
While the JCEA was at the BOE headquarters, Mayor Steven Fulop held a press conference at City Hall, he remains steadfast that he will not be getting involved in the dispute (h/t The Jersey Journal).
On Twitter, Fulop said this morning that the “rumor” was that the last offer from the BOE to the JCEA was a 3.5 percent salary increase in year 1 and a 2.7 percent salary increase in year two.
He called those figures “very fair” and further stated that an arbitrator will call for less. The mayor has called for an arbitrator to get involved in the matter several times, including on Hudson County Review Live last week.
Hart said the JCEA “does not negotiate in public” when asked if numbers presented by Fulop were accurate.
Perspective: Teacher strike in #JerseyCity is unfortunate + avoidable. Rumor is that the last offer from BOE to union was a 3.5% increase in year 1 + 2.7% increase in year 2. I don’t have more info but this seemed very fair + why strike w/those #s – arbitrator will rule for less
— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) March 16, 2018
A longer video from the protest, which streamed live on our Facebook page, can be viewed below: