BY SARAH SCHILLACI
PATERSON â€” Hundreds of teachers rallied outside of the Paterson Board of Education building on Church Street on Monday afternoon to support the teachers union in its contract negotiations.
Paterson teachers have been without a contract since their last one expired in June.
The rally was held after a meeting between the district and the Paterson Education Association without the presence of Martin Scheinman, the fact finder appointed to help mediate the contract negotiations.
The two parties planned to meet again after the rally, this time with Scheinman.
Since the end of the last school year, the union, the district and the fact finder have met numerous times to work out a contract.
One of the union’s major objections to the contract Paterson officials have proposed is the 1.5 percent of their salaries that teachers would have to contribute to the cost of health benefits.
In a statement released after the rally, Paterson Board of Education spokeswoman Laura Franklin said the district was “making every reasonable effort to break the negotiations impasse.”
The Paterson Education Association and district officials last signed a contract agreement in June 2005, a four-year pact with raises at 4.75 percent, 5 percent, 5 percent and 5.25 percent each year.
The district’s statement contends the union seeks more than 16 percent in pay raises over three years in the new contract.
The statement also said that there was a “critical district need” for teachers to teach more hours during the school day.