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Negotiations Fall Apart: State Fact Finder Likely to Be Called In to Settle Princeton Teachers Contract

princetonpublicschoolsFollowing a break down in negotiations, representatives for the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education and the teachers’ union, the Princeton Regional Education Association, most likely will meet with a state fact-finder to try to work out the terms of a new contract.

Representatives from the board and the union met for more than five hours last night but the two sides could not come to an agreement.

“The face to face negotiations meeting between the PREA and the board of education ended on Monday night at nearly 11 pm, unfortunately without a resolution,” School Board President Andrea Spalla said. “Although the board offered the PREA a chance to meet again for a face to face working session on the issues surrounding the salary guide, the PREA ultimately did not agree to another meeting. It is my understanding that the next step will be for the mediator to determine whether to send the matter to the fact-finding stage.”

Health insurance contributions are a key sticking point in the negotiations. According to a representative for the union, the board came into the session last night with a counter proposal that was unchanged from the meeting on April 15th.

“They made clear that they would not negotiate Tier 4 premium (insurance) contributions,” said John Baxter, chief negotiator for the union.

“Ultimately, they came back with a `framework’ that appeared to require further devaluation of salaries, for some, and created substantial inequities for many,” Baxter said. “They were unable to provide specifics or reasonable explanations of the numbers. Nevertheless, they insisted that we come up with a counter proposal. We explained that we would not respond to a `conceptual framework,’ the implementation of which raised serious questions even they could not answer. In other words, it was impossible to assess what was being offered.”

Teachers in the Princeton Public Schools have been working under the terms of an expired contract since July of 2014.

“Given their continued insistence (regarding a counter proposal), together with the long history of these negotiations, we saw no viable alternative to fact finding,” Baxter said. “We had some further discussion but to no avail.”

A fact finder costs $1,500 a day. The cost is split between the two parties.

The full statement from union negotiators, sent to Planet Princeton May 5:

After meeting for over 5 hours, negotiations have broken down. The Board came into the session with a counter proposal that was essentially unchanged from April 15th. They made clear that they would not negotiate Tier 4 premium contributions. Ultimately, they came back with a “framework” that appeared to require further devaluation of salaries, for some, and created substantial inequities for many. They were unable to provide specifics or reasonable explanations of the numbers. Nevertheless, they insisted that we come up with a counter proposal. We explained that we would not respond to a “conceptual framework” the implementation of which raised serious questions even they could not answer. In other words, it was impossible to assess what was being offered. Given their continued insistence, together with the long history of these negotiations, we saw no viable alternative to fact finding. We had some further discussion but to no avail.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • Princeton resident

    ouch-
    ” …if no agreement is reached in mediation, a fact-finder would be called in at a cost of $1,500 per day. The cost of a fact-finder would be split between the two parties. “

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