In a major victory for all members, Gov. Chris Christie has signed NJEA legislation that will allow school districts and their employees to negotiate contracts for a term up to five years in duration.
“This is a great win for NJEA members because it will give them more options when bargaining their contracts,” said NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer.
“Over the years, we’ve seen some school districts and their employee representatives participate in lengthy contract negotiations, sometimes lasting years into the new contract period and giving neither side any break between contract negotiations,” said Steinhauer. “This bill will provide some relief to not only our bargaining teams but to communities who often feel the stress of protracted negotiations.”
The bill – S-1127 – passed both houses with broad bipartisan support, and provides NJEA members with the contract flexibility currently enjoyed by other public sector workers like police, fire, state workers, and probation officers, none of whom have a limit on the length of their contracts.
Steinhauer publicly thanked the bill’s sponsors: Sens. Linda Greenstein (D), Jim Whelan (D), and Assemblymen Patrick Diegnan (D), Tim Eustace (D), and Benji Wimberly (D).
“This is a law with broad public appeal,” he said, “because it may yield considerable savings by districts, as attorney fees and other bargaining costs will be minimized when longer contract terms are negotiated.”
Christie vetoes health transparency bill
Unfortunately, Gov. Christie vetoed an NJEA bill, passed by both houses, that would have required school districts to disclose any money received in the form of a reimbursement, refund, or other credit from its health insurance premium. The bill would also have required this money to be used to offset the cost of future health insurance premiums.
“We’re disappointed by this veto,” said NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer. “It won unanimous support in the Legislature, and even had a Republican co-sponsor, but Gov. Christie still would not sign it.”
The bill – S-3086/A-3783 – was sponsored by Sens. Paul Sarlo (D) and Steven Oroho (R) and Assembly members Linda Stender (D), Patrick Diegnan (D), and Tim Eustace (D).