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This is a letter from John McEntee, president of the Paterson Education Association.
Fellow Paterson Education Association Members,
As we approach the upcoming election for P.E.A.’s union leadership positions, I want to remind you of the importance and impact of your vote. Believe it or not, one vote can sometimes decide elections! Your vote will directly impact the future of our Union. The adage is true; elections undoubtedly have consequences.
Over the past eight years, the Paterson Education Association (P.E.A.) has made significant strides in advocating for improved wages, safer working conditions, resolving grievances, and improving job security for its members. As your President, our team fought the CIGNA Health Plan catastrophe and was available around the clock to field member calls for health-related emergencies. We took these steps because, like you, we firmly believe every member’s problem is ours.
One of Team McEntee’s finest memories was the numerous victories at the bargaining table. Whether it was the negotiated cap on medical benefits, the addition of family illness days, or decreased employee prescription costs, our team believes that the P.E.A. has done its very best to improve the lives of members and their families. In fact, our cap in Paterson opened the door for the NJEA to negotiate a similar cap statewide for all NJEA members. The most significant difference, though…Unlike the NJEA’s plan, the P.E.A.’s health contribution cap did NOT decrease any level of member benefit. For that, I am incredibly proud.
In eight years, we have been laser-focused on making the P.E.A. one of the strongest and most respected Unions in New Jersey. In addition to the aforementioned, P.E.A. made available a voluntary AFLAC Cancer, Hospitalization, and Accident, plan for any interested member. As President, the employee workday/year did not increase by a single minute or day, and for the first time in our Union’s history, all secretarial and security employees now have contractual seniority protections. While these added member benefits may not always receive their just due, these wins for our members have positively impacted our members and their families.
But, if I had to identify one area which brings me the most fulfillment, it was our most recent contract settlement, which passed by a vote of our members of 1,854-164. This new five-year contract was the highest percent settlement in Passaic County, and P.E.A. achieved this goal in record time. All while raising Paterson’s starting salary to many of the comparable districts in the area. Equally as important, this contract begins to correct many of the salary guide injustices left behind by former Governor Chris Christie and rewards our members at maximum with healthy increases over the next five years. Most importantly, starting in September, all eligible employees with advanced degrees will again be able to be paid in accordance with their degrees.
Make no mistake; our work is far from over. It has never been more crucial that we have strong, dedicated leaders at the helm of our Union. We need individuals committed to fighting for our rights, with the experience, knowledge, and courage to navigate complex negotiations, and willing to put in the hard work necessary to achieve P.E.A.’s goals. I can promise you that Team McEntee will always have your back.
I sincerely hope that we have served each of you well. Serving as your President has been the honor of a lifetime, and with your vote of support on Wednesday, May 17th, together we will continue to move the Union forward.
Team McEntee for P.E.A.
John McEntee, Jr., President