Brick’s teaching staff, locked in an impasse during contract negotiations, rallied Thursday night at a meeting of the Board of Education and held a walk-out after students were honored and the high school band performed.
The walkout occurred as the business portion of the meeting began. Apparently, Brick Township Education Association President Tim Puglisi was not being permitted to speak before a general public comment portion of the meeting.
The BTEA members wore black shirts and buttons that read: “No Contract, Still Working, Always Caring.” Hundreds of teachers, paraprofessionals and supporters packed the auditorium at Brick Memorial High School, having walked in together. The meeting began with recognition of student council members from the two high schools before a 20-minute-long concert from the award-winning BMHS high school marching band. After the concert, Board President Stephanie Wohlrab called for the business portion of the meeting to begin, at which point the BTEA members walked out.
No board members or school district officials commented publicly, however several chatted about the walkout, as captured through a microphone that had been left on. The comments appeared on a YouTube video (at 42:00 in) of the meeting posted on the district’s website.
“That’s fine, let ’em go,” Wohlrab said.
The 1,035 teachers and paraprofessionals represented by the union have been working under an expired contract since June 30, 2018. After repeated attempts to come to a contract resolution failed to result in an agreement, the Board of Education declared an impasse and filed for mediation with the state Public Employment Relations Commission. It is the first impasse declared in Brick since the 1980s.
“We have very talented teachers and paraprofessionals working here in Brick,” said Puglisi, the BTEA president. “That’s evidenced by our successful schools and students. We are here tonight to show the board that we are united in our fight for a fair and equitable contract.”