Millville EA decisively kills anti-union ballot question

The Millville Education Association (MEA) and NJEA won a decisive victory over an anti-union ballot question submitted by the Millville Board of Education that targeted educational support professionals (ESP) by trying to remove them from civil service protections.

Under the leadership of MEA President Tina Hulitt, the association organized to communicate the intent behind the nonbinding ballot measure: to attack 200 dedicated school employees including secretaries, teacher aides, cafeteria workers, attendance officers, library aides and security monitors.

The association conducted face-to-face conversations and distributed lawn signs to educate the community about the ballot question. Hulitt submitted a letter to the editor, which was printed by the Vineland Daily Journal.

NJEA challenges ballot question in court

In addition, NJEA engaged attorney Keith Waldman to challenge the ballot question’s validity in court. Waldman successfully challenged the measure and, while the vote was still held, the clerk and the board of elections were restrained from certifying the results.

However, because the results would still be publicized, the association did not lessen their efforts to show how much the community values and appreciates the targeted ESPs.

Those efforts were overwhelmingly successful. The final vote was 71 percent against stripping civil service rights from the employees.

Civil service protections simply require that certain procedures must be followed if an employee is involved in a disciplinary matter. If the process were eliminated, workers would not have safeguards in place to ensure appropriate and fair treatment.

The board claimed that civil service protections affect hiring choices; this was false and misleading. There is no restriction on hiring for these positions.

“Clearly, this was an attack on hard-working school employees,” Hulitt said. “Make no mistake: if the Board tries to strip employees of their rights, it is only a matter of time before no employees have any rights.”

The MEA had requested that the board voluntarily withdraw the question based on its illegality and the potential costs involved in defending their actions. Because the board did not respond, the association proceeded with an injunction to prevent them from pursuing their attack on ESP members.

“We sent a powerful message to the board that we will always stand up for our colleagues,” said Hulitt. “They provide essential services to students in a caring and efficient way and the board never should have wasted taxpayer money on this foolish, anti-union effort. Instead, they should work with us and focus on ensuring that every child in Millville receives a great education.”

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