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Teachers' Union President Blames BOE for Contract Delays

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Recently I read a Letter to the Editor by Pat Petaccia regarding the Parsippany-Troy Hills Education Association’s leadership and I feel the need to respond since I am the person she was referring to. I need to set the record straight because, evidently, Mrs. Petaccia does not have a clue what she is talking about.

It is true that the PTHEA had been without a contract for the past two years. What is not true is Mrs. Petaccia’s assumption that it is due to the teachers’ unwillingness to compromise. What is true is that the Board of Education would not come to the table to negotiate.

It was not until we discussed filing an unfair labor practice that they finally sat down with us. It took many months to sit down and discuss the issues. It was not the PTHEA that dragged its feet or was unwilling to compromise. It was the board. That is the truth, plain and simple. Even then, there were many canceled meetings by the board.

The letter Mrs. Petaccia is referring to was a statement of fact. Teachers volunteer. Volunteer!

The board needed to understand exactly how much time we do volunteer and what the impact is when we do not. We are professionals. We work hard and we are proud of what we do. Our frustration over the board not actively negotiating pushed us to this action.

As far as being paid to mentor new teachers,  this comes from the state! We do not get paid extra for duties. We are responsible for supervision of students at all times. Also, curriculum revision is not part of our daily responsibilities. We are responsible for our students.

If Mrs. Petaccia knew what she was talking about, she would know that curriculum revision takes hours of time. When would she like us to do this? During our work day when we are with our students? At night when we correct papers, call parents, write lesson plans and try to spend time with our families? If we are to work on curriculum revision, there needs to be compensation. Since when don’t people get paid for doing extra work?

Now as far as the meeting of Jan. 24, Mrs. Petaccia exaggerates a bit. Her comments did get a response from teachers. It was by no means “noisy.” It was noisier when Mr. Strumolo was yelling across the room at Mrs. Orthwein. Mrs. Petaccia’s comment that teachers should walk out was the ultimate insult. So, we walked out.

The fact that she was offended is not my concern. I am offended by her blatant disrespect for the teachers of Parsippany. I can only assume that she must have had a very bad experience at one time with a teacher and is unable to appreciate the work we do.

An agreement with the board was finally reached. The teachers took a freeze for the first year. I hope Mrs. Petaccia is happy.

In addition, with the state-mandated contribution to health benefits based on
our premiums, many of us will never see a raise, not just this year but in the future as well. We are and will be paying way more than the amount of any raise. That should thrill her.

To sum up, Mrs. Petaccia thinks she knows everything. Truth is, she knows nothing.

Judy Mayer
President, Parsippany-Troy Hills Education Association

Kevin February 15, 2013 at 03:06 PM
i thought Ms.Mayer was doing okay till the very end. The last sentence was a little over the top. She is right though. A lot of Ms.Petaccia's assumptions in her letter were wrong. My hope is this new BOE will not drag there feet when it comes time to negotiate the contract again. The thought that the teachers went two years without a contract simply because the BOE refused to discuss it is outrageous. It was that long period of no-response that drove the union to such drastic actions. Once the BOE actually agreed to discuss contract terms with the union, the two sides actually came to a compromise fairly quickly. That leads me to believe there was never a need for the BOE to delay discussions. Perhaps they were just waiting to see where the cards fell after the election?
Me February 15, 2013 at 11:04 PM
This reads like it was written by someone in a remedial writing class, or someone who recently graduated with a degree in "Education.". I was honestly shocked at the end when I saw who composed this letter. And I must agree that this proves Ms. Pettacia's point about the union needing new leadership. This inflammatory rhetoric will only drive a deeper wedge between the union and the taxpayers. And Ms. Mayer may even be accurate in what she trying to communicate here, but it is so poorly delivered that it invalidates her. Wow.
Roman Hoshowsky February 15, 2013 at 11:32 PM
Maybe it was written by someone else who used Judy Mayer's name to make her look bad!
I plead the 2nd tchk tchk February 19, 2013 at 05:05 PM
Unions = Communism
Robert Jamieson February 19, 2013 at 10:14 PM
John, It is true that there are trade unions (usually referred to as worker's council) i in communist countries. Those unions, however, are state-controlled and owned by the government, so they do not act the same as they do in democratic countries. Independent trade unions were created to balance power between labor (workers) and management (companies or state agencies) and helped to create child labor laws, federal holidays, safe working conditions, etc. Management, in a Communist country, is the government. Communist countries tend to be authoritarian one-party governments and these types of regimes have little to no tolerance for any group that would challenge or limit their own power. Thus, independent unions are a threat to Communist power and do not actually exist in communist states. I would urge you to look into the union 'Solidarity', which helped end communism in Poland by pushing for free elections and demanding their recognition as an independent labor union. This is not to say the Unions are amazing. There have been many in charge of Unions that have used their position for their own gain at the detriment to the public. Yet, to simply dismiss unions as the equivalent to communism (which I am assuming is an insult) is without merit. Unions and Corporations are essential to collective bargaining (a cornerstone of capitalism).

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