Two bills that in separate but similar ways aimed at resolving conflict and protecting staff have passed the New Jersey Assembly.

The Assembly has voted to block public schools and colleges from subcontracting services while a collective bargaining agreement is in place.

The bill (A3395), sponsored by Ocean County Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and Ron Dancer, also establishes conditions after the expiration of a negotiated contract.

“We want to make sure the rules aren’t changed in the middle of the game,” McGuckin (R) said. “Without these protections, school employees working under an active contract can lose their jobs. Support staff should be concentrating on their job responsibilities, not worrying about their futures.”

The bill secures district employees who work one-on-one with students, drive buses, cook and serve in the cafeteria, clean classrooms, and keep schools safe.

“Students are the priority in our schools,” Dancer (R) said. “A contract is binding on both parties and the protections should not be severed by new agreements with third parties. Staff who provide vital services to teachers and students deserve stability and due process.”

In order to subcontract under the bill, a district must provide 90 days written notice to the union and the Public Employment Relations Commission before going to bid.

The measure also provides employees with the ability to retain seniority and recall rights when the private agreement ends.

Meanwhile in the second bill, binding arbitration will be available to settle disciplinary disputes involving non-teaching school district employees under legislation that has passed the New Jersey Assembly.

The bill (A3664), sponsored by Jersey Shore Assemblyman Ron Dancer, places the burden of proof on the employer in arbitration cases.

“Arbitration is a proven tool for resolving grievances between teachers and their school district employers,” Dancer said. “Opening the process to non-teaching staff is fair and consistent. School employees don’t have to be teachers to contribute to the educational effectiveness of our schools.”

Non-teaching staff will be able to bring any dispute over disciplinary action to arbitration, including termination or non-renewal, reprimands, and the withholding incremental increases.

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