Standoff in N.J. school district’s contract battle

By Spencer Kent, NJ Advance Media

PERTH AMBOY — Contract negotiations between the Perth Amboy Board of Education and the district’s union is no closer to resolution as the BOE declared an impasse on Tuesday, “rejecting a union proposal” over health insurance costs, according to a statement from the Perth Amboy Federation-AFT.

The Perth Amboy Federation-AFT, which represents district teachers and employees, said the impasse was discouraging.

“All we want is a fair contract for hardworking Perth Amboy educators who work with students in the schools every day,” said Patricia Paradiso, union president and a third-grade teacher, in the statement.

Paradiso said she believed it was hypocritical that school Superintendent David A. Roman was paying only 1.5 percent of his $200,000 salary for coverage “while a teacher making a third of that pays significantly more,” Paradiso said.

“The union wants to see a decrease in health insurance costs for everyone,” she added.

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In its statement, the union said the district has displayed that it has the money by recently creating “four new top-level administrative positions allocating more than $500,000 in salaries for personnel who will never see the inside of a classroom.”

Paradiso condemned the impasse and “called for a return to the bargaining table.”

The union hasn’t been afraid to display its outrage, organizing pickets and protests outside of schools.

Nat T. Bender, a spokesman for the union, said he believes public support is on their side.

“We have significant community support,” he told NJ Advance Media in a telephone interview.

He said the health care costs is “the sticking point.”

“It’s not right,” he said.

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