Less than a month after a formal impasse was declared between the Brick Township school board and its staff, the local teachers’ union announced Thursday that staff members would continue on with volunteer efforts during the holiday season.
During labor disputes, it is common practice for union members to strictly adhere to contractual obligations and decline to participate in volunteer activities. But the Brick Township Education Association said its members would reinstate volunteer work “in the spirit of the holiday season.”
“This is the first time we have had contentious negotiations in Brick Township for as long as I’ve worked here,” said BTEA President Tim Puglisi in his first statement on the matter. “While the staff is feeling disrespected and demoralized by the board, we have made a conscious decision to not let our feelings impact our students. We are continuing to go above and beyond what is required to ensure our students have a joyful holiday season.”
According to available public records obtained by Shorebeat, the impasse declared last month is the first since the 1980s. The state’s impasse law, last updated in 2003, calls for mediation followed by rounds of more intensive negotiations if the mediation fails. More detail on the process can be found in an earlier article on Brick Shorebeat.
The district’s 1,035 teachers and paraprofessionals have been working under an expired contract since June 30, 2018, and had suspended most voluntary activities, a statement from the union said.
“After repeated attempts to come to a contract resolution,” the board declared an impasse, the statement said.
The local union organization is participating in numerous activities in their schools and community to provide much-needed items for their students and their families, officials said.
“Despite the fact that many of our own members are struggling due to onerous salary cuts brought on by high benefits costs, they continue to give freely to our school community,” said Puglisi. “From winter coats and toys to food and monetary donations to sharing their free time for holiday activities, our members continue to put their students first.”