Around 400 West New York teachers, staff and students protested outside of the board of education headquarters on Broadway this evening to let the administration know they won’t stop making noise until they get a new contract.
“What do we want? Contracts! When do we want them? Now!,” hundreds of teachers chanted outside of 6028 Broadway prior to a scheduled negotiation meeting.
As only Hudson County View has reported, the West New York Education Association has been without a contract since July 2015 and have voiced their displeasure clearly and loudly at the March and April meetings of the board of education.
“Well, we go into mediation tonight, we’re meeting with the mediator for the first time … it’s very disheartening to be told your not going to be get a raise this year, next year or the year after,” Anita Kober, the West New York Education Association president, said during an interview with Hudson County View.
“We work very hard in the schools, all of our employees do: the secretaries, the paraprofessionals, the custodians and the maintenance, those are all the people involved in a child’s upbringing. It’s not just teachers, it’s not just about the teachers. It’s everyone in this union.”
Kober didn’t get into the particulars of what the WNYEA are asking for in their contract, other than stating “we aren’t asking for much” and that they were given a certain percentage in December – only for the figure to be rescinded by February.
Tom DeSocio, an NJEA Univserv field representative, echoed Kober’s sentiment regarding the negotiations.
“We have no contract: we were moving along up until December when the board woke up one morning and found out, they decided, they have no money for us,” he stated.
“So they’ve offered us no raises, zero increases for this year and for next year, and while we might recognize that there might be a budget problem, we’re not going to allow them to take it out on the backs of the employees in this district.”
DeSocio added that if a budget problem indeed exists, “it was five years in the making … so they’re gonna have to do what they can, shake the couch cushions and find some money so we can get a contract settlement.”
Nico Behnke, a Public School No. 2 PTO board member, called the board of education’s negotiating up to this point “shameful,” despite the “inspiring” work of the teachers who he says regularly volunteer their time for students.
Superintendent of Schools Clara Brito Herrera did not immediately return a call or email seeking comment, while School Business Administrator Dean Austin also did not immediately return an email seeking comment.