On April 26, 2018, the Board and the Franklin Lakes Education Association ("FLEA") attended the long-awaited session with a state-appointed factfinder. Because of various scheduling problems (including a cancellation due to snow), this was the first meeting since September 25, 2017.
In anticipation of a productive negotiating session and an ultimate settlement with FLEA, the Board had prepared a proposal that included, among other items, a salary increase and a pool of funds to mitigate the impact of rising health insurance costs. Unfortunately, the teachers never considered or even saw the Board proposal, because FLEA'S representatives indicated to the factfinder that they would not entertain any proposal that did not reduce (or "cap") the employees' contributions to their selected healthcare insurance coverages.
In an effort to salvage the session and move the process forward, the Board proposed to address the ongoing dispute over the 2018-19 school calendar as part of an overall contract settlement. Regrettably, the FLEA representatives again refused to engage in negotiations without a Board commitment to cap employees' insurance premiums. FLEA's position left the factfinder with no alternative but to adjourn the session.
The factfinder will now schedule a formal hearing where the parties will be required to submit and substantiate their last best offers for a contract settlement. The factfinder will then issue his non-binding findings of fact and recommended settlement. Upon receipt of the factfinder's report, the parties must determine whether or not they will accept the recommended settlement.
The Board sincerely hopes to be able to reach an amicable resolution of this dispute that will allow the Board to continue to offer superior educational services to its students, while maintaining competitive salaries and benefits for its employees. The Board remains willing to meet with FLEA for direct negotiations at any time.