Teachers Rally in Somerville to Protest
Health Benefits Impasse
SOMERVILLE, NJ – More than 200 school teachers and support staff from school districts throughout Somerset County gathered downtown late Thursday afternoon to raise awareness about several issues that continue to stall negotiations over new contracts.
Carrying signs reading “We All Deserve Better” and “Why Am I Rallying?” the teachers wore red t-shirts in solidarity as they gathered on the Division Street pedestrian mall before walking down Main Street.
Henry Goodhue, vice president of the Somerset County Education Association, addressed the gathering through a megaphone: “This is not a red issue, this is not a blue issue, this is an education issue,” he said.
The biggest source of frustration for the teachers is a law signed by former Gov. Chris Christie effective June 28, 2011 that imposed several changes in the formula used to calculate teachers’ benefits administered by the state.
Chapter 78 also changes the manner in which the State-administered Health Benefits Programs* operate and the levels of employee contributions.
Teachers have watched as their take-home pay declines and the cost of their benefits contribution increases, according to Patrick Frain, president of the Somerville Education Association.
Standing on Division Street outside the SEA’s second-story office, Frain held a sign that read “It’s Striking How Much I am Losing.” He said he has lost $7,000 in take-home pay since Chapter 78 went into effect.
Other teachers are experiencing similar losses, he said.
In the crowd were teachers from Somerville, Hillsborough, Montgomery, Franklin, Bridgewater-Raritan, Branchburg, North Plainfield, Bedminster and Basking Ridge, according to Frain.
Teachers in most of those districts are working under the provisions of expired contracts and/or are in fact finding with their respective boards of education, Frain said. Most of the boards have yet to negotiate any relief from the impact of Chapter 78, he added.
“We just talked about how 78 is killing us,” Frain said.
The Somerville Board of Education and the teachers’ union are scheduled to meet with a state fact finder on Dec. 4 in an effort to resolve the ongoing benefits issue, according to Frain.
*Originally published on TapInto Hillsborough by Rod Hirsch on 10/4/18
Please join with members of the Hillsborough community on February 10th for a discussion focused upon the mental health and substance abuse challenges facing our town.
Free smoothies for teen attendees courtesy of Smoothie King!
More incentives provided through the generosity of our proud community partners – Angelo’s, Dunkin Dounts and Damiani’s Oven
Community Conversation – Open Space
9 am to 12 pm
Hillsborough High School Commons
This conversation will be facilitated by a highly trained organizing professional, who will employ the “Open Space” model. “Open Space” is a meeting practice that enhances collective activity to release the inherent creativity and leadership in people. Through a focus on resolution and personal investment, Open Space establishes a marketplace of inquiry, reflection and learning, bringing out the best in both individuals and the whole as they seek to address complex issues.
Through our conversation, we can harness the wisdom and knowledge of our wonderful community as we collaborate to address the difficult challenges facing the Hillsborough community.
This event is open to all interested community members, but we please ask that no one below the age of thirteen attend.
A light breakfast will be served.
With Election Day fast approaching it is important to be as informed as possible on the candidates for local, state and national positions and to carefully consider how their views may shape the educational environment of Hillsborough. Similar to last year, all BOE candidates were offered the opportunity to respond to a questionnaire created by the HEA. This information was used to create the newsletter found below. Please note that this information can be shared, but does not serve as an endorsement of any candidate(s).
Please join the NJEA Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Committee for a free brunch on November 10, 2017 from 11 am until 1 pm in Crown Ballrooms I & II at the Sheraton Hotel.
Learn what NJEA resources are available to members and leaders for self-education, member education and advocacy for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) members and students.
The Somerset Patriots have made the playoffs and members can attend tomorrow night’s game for free – just bring a school ID/badge!
As you know, Pennsylvania is a key battleground state in this year’s presidential election. In order to help elect our endorsed candidate, Hillary Clinton, NJEA has arranged an opportunity this weekend for members to do get-out-the-vote work in PA.
The details, along with a link to register, are below. Please attend if you are able, and please share this with any NJEA member who wants to be part of this important and historic election.
DATE: Saturday November 5, 2016
Bus leaves from NJEA HQ Parking Lot
100 Capitol Street, Trenton, NJ
8 a.m. – Breakfast at NJEA HQ
8:30 a.m. – Bus leaves (promptly!)
4:15 p.m. – Bus leaves PA for return to NJEA
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