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Factfinders Report

The Upper Saddle River Board of Education (“Board”) is pleased to report that the State-appointed independent Fact-Finder issued his Report and Recommendations containing the terms for a recommended settlement of the collective negotiations agreement between the Board and the Upper Saddle River Education Association (“Association”).  The Board has reviewed the Fact-Finder’s recommended terms and plans on passing a resolution at its next Board of Education meeting on September 23, 2019 accepting all of the proposed terms for settlement. The Board believes that the Fact-Finder’s recommended settlement terms are fair to both our valued staff and the Upper Saddle River taxpayers.  The following are the Fact-Finder’s recommendations for settlement:
 
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SETTLEMENT
 
1. Term of Agreement
 
The new Collective Negotiations Agreement shall be a three-year agreement, effective from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2022.
 
2. Salary
 
Salaries shall be increased by 2.75% in 2019-20, 2.80% in 2020-21 and 2.85% in 2021-22, implemented effective July 1 in each year of the new agreement and be fully retroactive. The above salary increases shall be inclusive of the cost of increments. Salary guides shall be mutually developed by the parties in accordance with the 2018-2019 agreed-upon Scattergrams. I shall retain jurisdiction to resolve any issues concerning the accuracy of the agreed-upon Scattergrams. Finally, I will retain jurisdiction to submit recommended salary guides if the parties fail to reach agreement on mutually acceptable salary guides.
 
3. Chapter 78 Relief
 
Year 2019-2020: Employee contributions shall be capped at a maximum contribution of twenty-six percent (26%) up to a maximum dollar amount between the Chapter 78, Tier IV rates and the twenty-six percent (26%) cap not to exceed a total of seventy thousand dollars ($70,000.00) per year.

Year 2020-2021: Employee contributions shall be capped at a maximum contribution of twenty-six percent (26%) up to a maximum dollar amount between the Chapter 78, Tier IV rates and the twenty-six percent (26%) cap not to exceed a total of seventy thousand dollars ($70,000.00) per year.

Year 2021-2022: Employee contributions shall be capped at a maximum contribution of twenty-six percent (26%) up to a maximum dollar amount between the Chapter 78, Tier IV rates and the twenty-six percent (26%) cap not to exceed a total of seventy thousand dollars ($70,000.00) per year.

If the above-noted maximum dollar amount is exceeded in the above-referenced year, the parties agree to meet to determine how to allocate the Ch. 78 reduction to meet the capped amount set forth above. Each September of the contract term, representatives for the Board, the President(s) of the USREA, the head negotiator for the USREA, and the Superintendent will meet to review the upcoming year's health care premium costs, which are effective each January 1st. If the upcoming year's health benefits premium increases will cause the Ch. 78 Tier IV cap to exceed the maximum dollar amount set forth in the contract, the Ch. 78 Tier IV cap will be adjusted so as to not exceed the maximum dollar amount set forth in the contract and the adjusted Ch. 78 Tier IV cap will be put into effect no later than January 1st of that school year and will apply until June 30th of the same year
 
4. Tentative Agreements
 
A review of the parties’ proposals shows that a tentative agreement was reached on Article 38, Section C, Secretaries’ Leave of Absence and Article 51, Custodians’ Stipends. These tentative agreements are incorporated by reference in my Recommendations for Settlement.
 
5. All Board and Association proposals not included in these recommendations shall be considered as withdrawn.
 
Contrary to the Association’s posts on social media and current job actions including picketing, the public should be aware that it was the Association’s unilateral decision to declare impasse and request that the State appoint a mediator on December 5, 2018; no longer desiring to negotiate face-to face. When the State-appointed mediator was unable to reach a settlement, the State appointed an independent Fact-Finder who met with the parties on June 4, 2019 in an attempt to mediate a settlement. Following the June 4, 2019 meeting, the Fact-Finder directed both parties to submit final offers and briefs on the limited issues of salary and health benefits contributions by no later than August 1, 2019. Significantly, representatives of both parties agreed to the Fact-Finder’s briefing schedule.

Thereafter, the Association leadership decided that it no longer wanted to participate in the legal process that it had unilaterally initiated and instead informed the State-appointed Fact-Finder that it was unable to submit its final offer and supporting brief until after the commencement of the school year in September 2019. The Fact-Finder rejected the Association’s attempts to stymie the fact-finding process, but graciously granted the Association two separate extensions to submit its final offer and supporting brief by no later than Monday, August 26, 2019, so that the Fact-Finder could issue his recommended decision prior to the commencement of the school year.

Incredibly, the Association leadership refused to submit a final offer and supporting brief in an apparent attempt to stall the issuance of the Fact-Finder’s Report. Instead of submitting the Association’s final offer and supporting brief as required by the Fact-Finder, the Association leadership turned to social media falsely claiming that the Board was refusing to meet with the Association to get the contract resolved prior to the commencement of the school year.

What the Association leadership failed to advise the public in its social media postings was that it was the party that unilaterally commenced the mediation and fact-finding process, which ended face-to face negotiations and it was the also the party who repeatedly attempted to delay the issuance of the Fact-Finding Report. Despite the Association leadership’s recalcitrance and refusal to submit its final offer and supporting brief, the Fact-Finder issued his report on August 31, 2019.

In his Report, the Fact-Finder detailed the procedural history of this case (see pages 5-9) and made the following statement regarding the Association leadership’s repeated refusal to submit its final offer and supporting brief:
 
I have been mutually selected by the parties as a Fact-Finder in more than 150 cases since 1995. At no time during my 24 years in private practice did a party refuse to participate in the fact-finding process. From 1976 to 1980, I served as PERC’s Deputy Director of Conciliation and Arbitration and as the Director from 1980 to 1995. During that nearly twenty-year period, I administered all of the mediation and fact-finding procedures provided by PERC and appointed fact-finders in thousands of cases. At no time during this nearly twenty-year period did a party refuse to participate in the fact-finding process.
 
Unfortunately, the Association’s leadership has encouraged its membership to reject the Fact-Finder’s recommended terms for settlement. Instead of picketing and posting factually inaccurate statements on social media, the Board once again calls upon the Association to accept the Fact-Finder’s recommendations and immediately end these on-going negotiations.

Sincerely,
 
The Upper Saddle River Board of Education