Judge orders Jersey City teachers back to work Monday following strike

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JERSEY CITY -

The Hudson County Superior Court has ordered Jersey City teachers to end their strike and go back to work on Monday.

The judge made the decision following an hourlong hearing, noting that New Jersey law bars teachers from going on strike.

The school board's attorney argued that by not issuing the order it would cause irreparable harm to the district.  But the teacher's union stressed that their goal is to be back to work on Monday if and only if they get what they say they deserve.

Thousands of Jersey City teachers hit the picket line Friday after contract negotiations fell through. The teachers say that they are striking because they are getting paid less than they were 10 years ago. They also say that they are fighting for lower health insurance premiums.

Jersey City Education Association union president Ron Greco says that teachers pay $1,400 to $1,500 a month for health care. He says that many teachers are only making around $50,000 a year.

Teachers have been working without a contract for the past eight months. This is the first time in 20 years that Jersey City teachers have gone on strike.

School district officials say that teacher’s contributions are recognized and appreciated, but that the district faces a $65 million shortfall in the 2018-2019 school year. 

Greco told News 12 New Jersey that the negotiations ended abruptly when the school board walked out early. He says that he is concerned that the board will not return to bargaining table.

“Turn that board of ed upside down. Shake it. There's always money hidden in that building,” Greco says.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop says that the school board is offering about a 7 percent raise over two years, which is higher than anywhere else in the state of New Jersey. He says that he believes the two parties can benefit from an arbitrator.

“This is avoidable and both sides should go with that third party [and] keep the schools open,” Fulop says.

“I know the students look up to their teachers, so hopefully it’s a learning experience,” Greco says of the strike.

The city brought in extra police officers to patrol the schools during the strike, but no major incidents were reported.

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