For Immediate Release:
December 29, 2017
I am pleased to share that I have received a wonderful holiday gift this week. In his written opinion and subsequent award, arbitrator James Mastriani dismissed the Paterson school district’s request to place me on an unpaid suspension, and, as a result, concluded the district was unwarranted in proceeding with tenure charges for the grievance meeting that occurred over a year ago. Additionally, the arbitrator found that my comments and actions towards Ms. Davis in this meeting occurred under the umbrella of protected activity as union president and were not insubordinate, threatening, nor harassing in nature. I shall now be entitled to full back pay, benefits, and any lost pension time. In short, the truth prevailed.
While Mr. Mastriani did note that my challenging statements continued beyond the time that Ms. Davis viewed the meeting as concluded and that the district could have issued me a written warning as a result, this has nothing to do with me—or any union leader—fighting for the rights of union members. In fact, my exoneration should be viewed as evidence that PEA members and building representatives never should be afraid of standing up to those in authority and fight for our rights under the contract.
As I have stated many times before, I am extremely passionate about what I do. Advocating for the rights of the Paterson employees, students and community never will be something that I take lightly nor will be timid about; I am pleased to see that the arbitrator saw through the district’s obvious attempt at trying to paint my actions as intimidating and suggest that any local leaders who stand up for what’s right are nothing more than union thugs. Make no mistake: This was nothing more than a very expensive fishing expedition to see if it’s possible to silence the voices and shackle the actions of those who dare to challenge the ongoing and universal fight to erode our country’s unions. That said, I will be mindful of the need for ensuring that this advocacy continues to occur within the established parameters of our negotiated agreement and hold the district accountable for doing the same.
Again, I would like to thank you for your ongoing support and loyalty. It is difficult through words to express my sincerest appreciation to all members of our Union for helping me and my family through these dark days. You have proven yourselves to be tireless advocates for our profession and this district, and I am proud to serve as your president for as long as you will have me. From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!
I would also like to acknowledge the hard work and outstanding representation of our elected P.E.A. officers Charles Ferrer, Lakresha Hodge, Geno Tortoriello, Joy Spinelli, Mary Chowhan, and Ryan Cohen. I am humbled and grateful for their support, long hours, and unwavering dedication. More than that, I am also grateful for the hard work of our NJEA field rep, Sasha Wolf, and our NJEA attorney, Sandy Oxfeld. I am blessed to work with such outstanding professionals. This is not only a win for the Paterson Education Association; this is a decisive victory for our colleagues throughout the state. Their efforts and winning track record is yet another of a myriad of reasons why full union membership is invaluable.
So, as the month of December winds down, I urge you to please take the last few days of this much-deserved winter break to rest and recharge; we are sure to face a number of challenges in the new year. However, I am confident that together, working side-by-side, we will continue to prevail to make Paterson schools the best they can be.
Most importantly, it is TIME for a contract! See you all at our “Rally for A Contract” on January 8, 2018, 90 Delaware (4-5 PM).
John McEntee, Jr.