Categories: NewsPaterson

Teacher Union Battle Over Low Wages Heats Up in Paterson

The battle is heating up in Paterson, New Jersey’s fourth largest district, between Paterson Education Association and the school board. The two sides have been negotiating on a new contract for a year; in July they declared an impasse, primarily about what the union regards as unreasonably low wages and poor working conditions. Under the old contract, starting salaries are $57,500, well below, say, Newark’s $62,000.  In  August Paterson Education Association President John McEntee Jr. said in the last three years 1,300 teachers have quit. 

Two weeks ago, the Board decided to give each new hire a $7,500 bonus in order to fill 123 vacancies. This move did nothing to assuage the union: the following year, those teachers gifted with a bonus check will find their second-year salaries back to $58,605 unless the contract dispute is resolved. (Once it is, teachers will be paid the salary adjustments retroactively.)

At this week’s \school board meeting, the Board voted to “right-size” top administrator salaries. What’s a little bit of oil on the fire?

  • Business Administrator Richard Matthews will go from $185,764 to $200,764, an overall increase of 8%.
  • Deputy Superintendent David Cozart will go from $175,236 to $195,019, an increase of 11.3%.
  • Deputy Superintendent Cicely Warren will drop from $175,214 to $184,999, an increase of 11.3%.
  • Deputy Superintendent Cheryl Coy will increase from $170,904 to $186,195, an increase of 8.9%.
  • Deputy Superintendent Joanna Tsimpedes will go from $169,437 to $184,714, a 9% increase.

(The rumor is the Board had to raise salaries among top administrators because the new Chief Technology Officer, Mohammed Saleh, negotiated a contract for $170,000 his first year.)

PEA seems to be winning the public relations battle. It’s unclear who will win the war.

Staff Writer

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