Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Union Accuses Ft. Lee School Board of 'Lies'

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Union Accuses Ft. Lee School Board of 'Lies'

Article excerpt

FORT LEE -- One day after the school board issued a statement accusing the Fort Lee Education Association of reneging on its position and not negotiating in good faith, the union president blasted the board for making what she called "outright lies."

Nearly 15 months into negotiations for a new contract, the parties find themselves headed toward a fact-finding hearing this fall, where both sides will present their case to a state-appointed arbitrator, officials announced during Monday's board meeting.

Board President Yusang Park attributed the breakdown in talks to union tactics.

"The association backed away from their position at mediation and increased their financial demand by over $500,000," he read from a prepared statement. "The board will not continue to engage in a process where the association is not a willing, good-faith negotiation's partner. It undermines the process when the association constantly modifies their position which impacts the board's ability to reach common ground."

Union President Bruna Capalbo on Tuesday blasted those comments as a mischaracterization of how things transpired.

"I am saddened and frankly disturbed that the Board of Education chooses to report to the public outright lies about a group of people who continue to work for the benefit of the children of Fort Lee," she said.

In the interest of settling a contract, Capalbo said, the union made a one-time offer regarding a certain term, but when the board rejected the rest of the proposal, the association returned to its original position.

She in turn accused the district of backpedaling, saying the board submitted four different school-day schedules for consideration throughout the course of negotiations.

At issue, Capalbo said, is the board's desire to have more high school and middle school educators teach six periods per day so the district can hire fewer instructors. …

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