PATERSON - Teachers in Paterson are fed up after more than three years without a contract and unhealthy conditions in their schools.
Union president Pete Tirri says he asked teachers to take pictures of their classrooms on the first day of school and the results were alarming.
"The schools are crumbling because there is not enough money for the district to make the repairs that are needed," Tirri says.
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Teachers and staff found open electrical boxes, peeling paint, leaking roofs, and even mouse droppings.
The state has overseen the Paterson School District since 1991, and Tirri says the district and state blame each other for the deteriorating conditions.
Tirri says 3,200 teachers, aides and other union members have been working without a contract or salary bump since 2010.
"We don't have any long-term job security because things are up in the air," says teacher Chris Small. "It would help you sleep better at night knowing things are secure and locked in."