More than 250 teachers and educational support professionals in the Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District, which includes Oakcrest, Absegami, and Cedar Creek high schools, picketed early this morning outside Oakcrest and Absegami high schools to protest the fact that they have been working more than one year without a new contract.
The Greater Egg Harbor Education Association (GEHREA), which represents 435 staff members in the district, have been working without a new contract since July 1, 2015.
Local labor unions honored today’s informational picket line and would not cross the line. The picketing ended at 8 a.m. and provided the association with an opportunity to inform the public about the bargaining crisis in the district by handing out flyers.
In early June, the association accepted the state-appointed fact-finder’s report, asking only to modify the structure of the salary guide, which would not have added a single penny to the fact-finder’s recommendation.
The Board rejected the vast majority of the report, including any recommendations that benefited the staff, and added the new demand that in order to settle the contract, the association had to drop any pending grievances and arbitrations.
Since the 2014-15 school year, there have been 11 grievances and arbitrations filed against the district as a result of administrative decisions that violate the contract and/or the law. In the 30 years prior, there had been less than five grievances total filed in the Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District.
In another sign of the Board and administration’s disrespect for staff and the law, is the district’s refusal to file jointly with the association for super-conciliation with the state’s Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC), even though the legal process mandates that super-conciliation is the final step in the negotiations process to resolve the bargaining crisis.
The bargaining crisis is reaching a critical point in the district and more actions by the association are being planned.