Striking Teachers, Facing Dismissal, Return to Schools in N.J. District

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Faced with dismissal, striking teachers in Little Ferry, N.J., returned to their classrooms last Friday, ending a two-week-old walkout.

Nontenured teachers, however, were suspended with pay, pending the outcome of a school-board meeting, a union spokesman said.

State Superior Court Judge Kevin M. O'Halloran had imposed a Friday deadline on the 55-member Little Ferry Education Association earlier in the week after the union defied his prior return-to-work order.

Although judges in New Jersey previously have threatened to fire teachers, albeit infrequently, union spokesmen said the Little Ferry dispute marked the first time a school beard had asked a court to take such an action.

Teachers in two other New Jersey districts, Willingboro and Cinnaminson, went back to work earlier this month after a judge threatened to fire strikers.

Little Ferry teachers, whose contract expired in June 1990, are seeking pay increases of 8.8 percent in the first year and 8.6 percent in the second year of their contract. The increases were suggested by a factfinder, according to Debbie Scott, a spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association.

The latest offer by the school beard, she said, is a four-year pact that would raise teacher pay by 7.25 percent in its first year and by 0.5 percent less each successive year.

Despite the strike, district schools remained open.

Elsewhere in the nation, strikes broke out in Kentucky, Idaho, and Pennsylvania.

Teachers in Breathitt County, Ky., were expected to return to work early this week after a circuit judge ordered the schools to reopen and members of the Breathitt County Education Association to return to work.

The judge also ordered both sides to resume negotiations.

Breathitt teachers had walked out Sept. 16 over the district's salary offer of no more than a 5 percent raise, according to the union.

Meanwhile, teachers in three more Pennsylvania districts walked out last week, also the result of salary disputes. (See Education Week, Sept. 18, 1991.)

In two Idaho districts, teachers went on strike last week, the first such strikes in the state since 1988.--K.D.

Vol. 11, Issue 04, Page 9

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