Teachers’ union gets new 3-year deal in Monroe

Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2 | May 14, 2018 | MonroeNow

After more than 300 days, the Monroe Township Board of Education and the union representing the teachers agreed to a new three-year contract that retroactively begins on July 1, 2017 and ends June 30, 2020.

No details were released about the contract because the Monroe Township Education Association and the school board still have to officially sign the deal.

“This went way longer than I had anticipated it would go,” said Kathy Kolupanowich, board president, who also like other trustees thanked the union and its leadership. “I think it is a good contract for everybody.”
Trustees approved the contract following at the May 9 Board of Education meeting after they first met in closed session to discuss the deal.

The measure was not approved unanimously, however. In a brief statement to the public, Trustee Michele Arminio said she was voting “no” because of what she called a “procedural issue in one aspect in the memorandum of agreement.”

Arminio did not say what the “procedural issue” was. In her statement she said, “In a democracy there needs to be more than one voice to the table. And as an elected official we’re not only speaking of our own selves or our own interests, we represent various community voices.”

She went on to state, “We ask all residents to support our budgets, so sometimes again we have to listen to their voices. I’ve attended hours and hours of school board trainings over the years about our obligations and oversight. I know I’m not popular and some of my votes re not popular, but I feel out of necessity, and again sometimes democracy is cumbersome, I’m compelled to vote no…”

During the roll call for the vote, Arminio “regretfully” voted no.

Other members, such as Ken Chiarella and Jamesburg representative Steven Riback, added remarks as to why they were going to support the new deal.

“I’m voting for this because I think this agreement does what we set out for it to do,” Chiarella said. “Some of the things we wanted to do is be able to attract new teachers and retain the teachers that we have.”

Added Riback: “I think this contract benefits both sides, [it] benefits everybody. It was a long process … we all maintained a level of professionalism. Never any negative statements being made, yelling, it was civil. I was proud of both negotiating teams.”

The Monroe Township Education Association did not respond to a request for comment.