Press: Health Insurance Sticking Point As Perth Amboy Board Declares Impasse

Contact: Nat T. Bender, 908-377-0393, bender [at] aftnj.org
Union proposes progressive solution, while board would increase insurance costs

PERTH AMBOY…Long-stalled negotiations on an expired contract for educators hit a further snag as the Perth Amboy Board of Education filed for impasse, rejecting a union proposal to structure health insurance costs so lower paid workers would not pay as much. “When increased health insurance costs were implemented, they were progressive,” said union president Patricia Paradiso, a third-grade teacher. “The union wants to see a decrease in health insurance costs for everyone,” she said.

“All we want is a fair contract for hard-working Perth Amboy educators, who work with students in the schools every day,” said Paradiso. “It is hypocritical that a well compensated administrator like the superintendent is paying 1.5 percent of his two hundred-thousand dollar salary for coverage while a teacher making a third of that pays significantly more.”

The money is available in the district according to Paradiso. She said the district just created four new top-level administrative positions allocating more than a half-million dollar in salaries, for personnel who will never see the inside of a classroom. “How much are these new administrative hires paying for health insurance while the costs for lowest-paid educators in the district continue to climb?” she asked.

Paradiso decried the board’s move to impasse and called for a return to the bargaining table. She said the union has been active with pickets and protests outside of schools and parents are expressing solidarity with the students’ teachers and school personnel. “Our members have great relationships with the community and many parents have signed on to our petition calling on the board to bargain a fair deal.”

 [END]

The Perth Amboy Federation – American Federation of Teachers represents more than 1,400 teachers, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel.