Staff from the Greater Egg Harbor Regional Education Association (GEHREA), which represents 435 teachers and educational support professionals, conducted “practice” picketing on Tuesday, August 30 – the first day of school for students at Absegami and Cedar Creek high schools along with a person in a rat costume.
The members picketed from 6 a.m. until 7:05 a.m., arriving in classrooms and on job sites before the start of their contractual day.
The picketing also included providing an informational flyer to parents dropping off students. The flyer detailed the history of the ongoing bargaining crisis and the fact that staff is beginning their second school year without a new contract.
In May, the GEHREA’s negotiating team accepted a state-appointed fact-finder’s report. The Board’s negotiating team rejected the report. As a result, a state-appointed super conciliator has been assigned.
“We are waiting for the super conciliator to meet with us to attempt to resolve the bargaining crisis,” said GEHREA President Stephanie Tarr. “However, our members are frustrated with the Board’s delay tactics and proposals that fall far short of what the fact-finder believes is fair, reasonable, and affordable, and what other districts in Atlantic County have recently settled.”
On August 29, staff took a vote to authorize any actions to help settle the contract, up to and including a full work stoppage.
“Our members want to settle a fair contract as soon as possible,” Tarr said, “It is unreasonable to expect them to continue to go above and beyond their job descriptions while the Board continues to disrespect them and their contributions to our communities. The time is now for the Board to show they respect the work our members do by settling a contract that is in line with what the fact-finder recommended and what other Atlantic County districts provide their staff.”