2018 - 2021
The current collective bargaining agreement was ratified by the WTEA and the Woodbridge Township Board of Education and covers the period of July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2021.
In addition, WTEA has received a consent agreement with the Board of Education for recognition of the members within the job title of "Clerical Aides". WTEA leaders are currently negotiating an initial interim agreement for these valuable new members. In 2021, we hope to accrete the Clerical Aide unit into the larger all-inclusive bargaining unit.
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What should I do if I am called to a meeting with an administrator which could bear negatively on my employment?
The following are some guidelines to keep in mind in dealing with this type of situation.
- Contact your Association Representative or the WTEA office on Green Street prior to entering the meeting for advice on how to proceed and for representation.
- You should never attend any meeting without representation in which your performance is criticized, negatively evaluated, or in which you face discipline.
- If such a meeting is scheduled, you may adjourn the meeting until an Association representative is available.
- If you enter a meeting without representation and feel uncomfortable about your supervisor’s perspective on your performance or employment, you should refrain from making any further statements and adjourn the meeting until you have representation. If the administration attempts to continue the meeting despite your demand for representation, you should remain silent.
- It is important that all members be aware of the Head Association representative in their building. It is also important that everyone keep handy the following phone numbers in case of an emergency:
WTEA Office – 732-634-5028
NJEA Regional UniServ Office – 732-287-4700
The question of "what is grievable" presents itself to advocates on an almost daily basis. Although it would be impossible to list all grievable and non-grievable issues due to the very fact that each instance is unique and must be treated as such, it is helpful to understand certain guidelines of the grievance process. This may not answer all of your questions concerning grievability, but it will hopefully clear up some confusion. Remember, if there is any question regarding the grievability of an issue, a member should speak to his or her Association Rep or call the WTEA office. Also, please keep in mind that the grievance procedure is driven by a timeline, and failure to act in an prompt manner may result in your grievance being ruled "out of time".
By definition, a grievance is a "claim by an employee or the Association based upon the interpretation, application, or violation of policies, agreements, and administrative decisions affecting an employee, group of employees, and/or the Association". There are typically four major recognized categories of grievances, which are: violation of the agreement (an act of ignorance, carelessness, error, omission, or commission by the Board or its agent which is known to be contrary to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA); disagreement of interpretation (the facts of the issue are usually clear and not in dispute, but the grievance comes from a dispute in the interpretation of the language of the CBA); dispute of fact (the parties agree on the meaning of the language of the CBA, but the issue is whether the alleged violation of the CBA did or did not occur, and equity disputes (usually based on the Association’s claim that the Board or its agent has abused its discretion, or exercised a right in an arbitrary, capricious, or discriminatory manner).
In an attempt to further narrow down the breadth and scope of this definition, a good rule of thumb in determining whether an issue is grievable is if you answer "yes" to any of the following questions:
- Is it a violation of the contract (including arbitration awards)?
- Is it a violation of the law?
- Is it a violation of past practice?
- Is it a violation of management’s own rules?
- Is it an inherent employer responsibility, such as health or safety?
- Is it discriminatory treatment compared to the way other employees are treated?
Notice that a claim can be the basis for a grievance, even if there is no explicit provision in the CBA which seems to establish the claim. The CBA includes legal provisions (and the history of labor law imputes to all agreements certain assumptions) which make it possible to files grievances in a number of other areas.
Two last points I would like to make. Typically, member versus member gripes, personality clashes with management, a dislike of managerial procedures, and claims that take issue with inherent management prerogatives are non-grievable.
Finally, keep in mind that there are employment rights that each of us have which are established in places other than the CBA. Examples would be our pension rights and tenure rights of teachers and secretaries. In such cases, enforcement of our rights is accomplished not through a grievance under the CBA, but through a different legal process, perhaps a petition to the Commissioner of Education or a claim filed in state or federal court. Needless to say, the WTEA and NJEA provide assistance to our members in seeking legal remedies not just through grievances but in all possible legal venues.
I hope that this helps clear up some confusion on the process of identifying a grievable issue.
Member Rights and Grievance Chair
One of the oldest questions asked of union members by one another is “Which side are you on?” Sometimes this is an important question for us to ask. When we struggle to preserve and improve our terms and conditions of employment or when we fight employment injustice, the sides can be as clear as day.
At other times, our roles as good citizens and professionals make our responsibilities more complex. Child abuse and neglect is a terrible fact of life. Malicious accusations that are designed to impugn someone’s character is another terrible fact of life. This Member Rights Q&A is designed to help our members understand their rights and responsibilities relative to the reporting of child abuse. More complete information has been provided to all Association Representatives and members may call the WTEA office at any time for clarifications.
Are we required to report any suspicion we may have that child abuse or neglect is taking place?
By law, any person having a reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected is required to immediately notify the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). The telephone number for DYFS is 1-800-792-8610. Failure to report such knowledge could result in criminal prosecution.
Can a report to DYFS be made anonymously?
You can make a report in one of three ways: 1-By openly giving your name and relationship to the child; 2-By asking that your name and relationship to the child be kept confidential, although there is no guarantee that your identity will not become known during the investigation; 3- By making your report anonymously from a secure telephone line. In thi event, keep a record of your call and the person to whom you spoke.
Do I have any legal exposure if I make a report of child abuse or neglect to DYFS?
A person who makes a good faith report to DYFS or who testifies in a child abuse hearing is immune from civil or criminal liability for their report or testimony.
What should I do if I am called into an administrator’s office without knowing the purpose of a meeting?
Ask if the meeting is investigatory and if it could lead to disciplinary action or a negative impact on your employment. If the answer is “yes” you have a right to representation. If the matter is related to DYFS, you have the right to seek the assistance of an attorney before making a statement. You invoke this right be citing your “Banca Rights”. If the matter is not related to DYFS, you have rights under “Weingarten”, which means that you have a right to Association representation at the meeting. We have addressed Weingarten issues in a previous Q&A. In the event that you discover that you are the subject of a DYFS investigation, you should immediately contact a member of the WTEA or NJEA staff. If you are called to a meeting and told that the meeting could not lead to disciplinary action but subsequently feel uncomfortable about the direction of the meeting, request that the meeting be terminated until you have appropriate representation.
This is the minimum information that every Association member needs to know. Presently, we will be sending you another Member Rights Q&A on related issues.
Member Rights Chairman
February 29, 2008
When do I have to notify the Board to request a maternity leave?
When requesting a leave of absence due to childbirth, the employee shall notify the Board at least 90 days prior to the anticipated date of delivery.
How soon before my delivery date, will my leave begin?
The Board shall presume that a pregnant employee becomes disabled for work four (4) weeks before the anticipated date of childbirth at which time the pregnant employee shall become eligible for sick leave benefits.
What if I wanted to work closer to my due date?
You must present a note from your physician attesting to your ability to work during that four-week period.
How long is my leave entitlement following childbirth?
You are presumed to be disabled for a recuperative period of six weeks following natural childbirth or eight weeks following caesarean childbirth. During which time you will continue to receive sick leave pay to which you are entitled under the sick leave policy.
What if I run out of sick days before my recuperation period is over?
You may request 20 emergency sick days.
Can I use my sick time after my recuperation period?
No. Following your recuperation period you are no longer eligible to receive sick leave benefits for that particular disability.
Can I take a Family Leave for childcare?
- If you qualify, you may take up to twelve weeks of family leave in which you would receive health benefits but no salary. - Up to six weeks of this leave would qualify under the NJ Paid Family Leave Act. Under Paid Family leave you would receive a payment from the State, not the district, equal to 2/3 of your weekly salary up to $650.
- Effective July 2020 up to 12 weeks will qualify under paid family leave and the amount will increase to Individuals can now receive 85 percent of their weekly wage, with the maximum possible benefit going up to 70 percent of the statewide average weekly wage. Using data from this year, the maximum possible benefit would go up from $650 a week to $860 a week under this law.
Am I eligible for an unpaid leave?
Requests by tenured employees for unpaid personal leave prior to childbirth, following childbirth and/or adoption shall be granted for the duration of the school year in which these events occur, plus one (1) or two (2) additional school years, if requested by the employee.
Contact the WTEA office for specific questions and assistance in preparing your maternity leave request.
Modified January 2020