Next step in Jersey City teacher contract issue may be a strike if negotiations don’t happen

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JERSEY CITY, NJ — Furious Jersey School teachers who have been working without a contract crashed a school board meeting Thursday night in a show of force.

It's part of continued efforts for relief in an attempt to avoid a strike. Teachers have been picketing in the mornings before class starts. They say they need relief from Chapter 78, a health benefits overhaul from Chris Christie's time as governor.

"It's really not a question about us against you or you against us. It's about us against the state coming up with the legislation that produced this information or this plan for our health insurance," teacher Elizabeth Perry said.

The school district denied a request to comment on the ongoing negotiations. But Jersey City Education Association Union President Ron Greco believes the deadlock is not sustainable.

"People are fed up with the morale in the schools. I'm willing to work all this holiday weekend. I've put it out there many times," Grecco said. "You come to my house, to the dining room - we'll sit down. We'll have something to eat. Wear your sweatpants, but let's get this done."

If the long delayed face-to-face negotiations don't happen soon, the next stop may be a general membership meeting to vote on a strike.

Teachers, some of whom have gone through strikes before, are prepared for that possibility.

"I live through the strike in 1998,"  teacher Lisa Dunn said. "I'll live through this if that's the way it goes, but it'll make a difference in my kids' lives."