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(This is a press release.)
Fueled by the Paterson Board of Education’s unwillingness to address the ongoing wage gap within the District, the Paterson Education Association (PEA) declared an impasse after tonight’s negotiations session with the Paterson Board of Education. The two sides have been negotiating since the Fall of 2021. As of July 12, 2022, the board has failed to provide the Union with a single salary proposal.
“We are extremely disappointed at the Board’s refusal to engage in any meaningful discussion about staff salaries,” declared PEA President John McEntee. “For the last three years, there’s been a growing exodus from Paterson, as our educators seek positions in other districts, with no end in sight.”
Since 2019, over 1,300 employees have resigned from the district, with hundreds resigning since last September. McEntee detailed the problem in a recent open letter to the Paterson community, citing the growing wage gap and poor working conditions as the primary reasons for the staff’s departure.
“It’s clear that the disparate pay in the educational field is a major factor in job retention, especially since teachers earn—on average—over 19 percent less than comparable professionals,” McEntee continued. “However, some urban districts in our state are working to address the issue. Even if the District’s outstanding workplace issues were addressed in full, it would still take Paterson’s educators over a decade to earn what other districts offer as a starting salary.
McEntee is referencing Newark City’s recent decision to renegotiate salaries with its district unions to attract and retain teachers to work in its schools. Simply put, an educator in Paterson would need to work eleven (11) years to earn what is now Newark’s starting salary.
“There is only one way to stop the employees from resigning, retiring, or choosing other municipalities over Paterson,” McEntee continued. “The Paterson Board of Education must take aggressive steps to fast-track contract negotiations with the P.E.A. and severely revamp its salary packages for all employees.” The two parties now await the assignment of a state-appointed mediator.