Parsippany Teacher’s Union Breaks Silence On Contract Talks

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The following is a letter to the editor submitted by the Parsippany-Troy Hills Education Association’s executive board, on behalf of its members.

An open letter to the Parsippany-Troy Hills community:

After much deliberation, the members of the Parsippany Troy-Hills Education Association (PTHEA) have decided to break their silence on the status of negotiations with the Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education. The PTHEA has been working under an expired agreement since July 2021. For months, we chose to refrain from any public statements, as well as to exercise our right to pressure the Board and engage in any job actions, in the hopes that we could bargain amicably and successfully. PTHEA members understand the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we felt that all energies would be best served by strengthening the labor-management relationship as we returned to in-person instruction. We believe it takes all stakeholders to ensure a positive, successful educational experience for our students.

The PTHEA held out hope that the Board believed this, too. In an effort to have contract talks be one less stressor for all, the PTHEA in late 2020 offered the Board a full year of labor peace — with no contract demands or changes — and a salary adjustment at the current county average. While there were certainly contractual items we also wanted to address, PTHEA members were dedicated to maintaining a positive relationship, so we may all concentrate on doing the job we loved as we navigated the “new normal.” Unfortunately, the Board didn’t feel the same way: They delayed the first meeting by nearly three months beyond what is normal, rejected our one-year offer, and introduced a slate of contractual demands that go far and above what any of us have seen in decades.

To say we were disappointed is an understatement. For the last 18 months, we have done everything possible to maintain the quality educational experience our community has come to expect. However, we must insist that Board recognize our role in doing so. Across the state and throughout the nation, there is an educator shortage, which has only been compounded by the ongoing pandemic. If we are going to continue to have the best public schools in the nation, we must offer competitive salaries and benefits to attract and retain the best educators. This profession is rife with challenges and — once this pandemic is finally behind us — there are going to be additional obstacles ahead, and it will take the hard work of public school educators to maintain stability for all. Instead of publicly praising us while privately scoffing at our attempts to secure a contract that actually acknowledges our value to this school district, it’s time for the Parsippany Troy-Hills Board to come to the table with reasonable proposals. No more delays; no more games—we want their actions to finally support their words.

Until this is resolved, please be assured that all PTHEA members are committed to providing Parsippany Troy Hills’s students with nothing less than our best. In fact, we go above and beyond our contractual responsibilities for the students and school community every single day. However, we are equally as committed to standing up and demanding a fair and equitable settlement, and we hope you join us in that effort and call on the Board to offer one. Together, we can keep Parsippany Troy-Hills a place of pride for all.

Respectfully,

The Executive Board of the Parsippany-Troy Hills Education Association, on behalf of its members

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