PATERSON, N.J. (WABC) – Teachers in Paterson, New Jersey, who have been without a contract since June, took to the streets in protest Wednesday night.

After six months without a contract, teachers in Paterson are threatening to strike if the district doesn’t agree to terms soon.

The question is old. Kimberly Johnson has been teaching at Patterson for 25 years.

“When I first started I needed a part-time job to subsidize my salary, 25 years later prices have gone up, I still need a part-time job to subsidize my salary,” she said.

A nationwide teacher shortage has put those still in the classroom in a strong bargaining position. The boss knows this and has made some important changes.

“If you don’t have enough teachers, you can go anywhere and name your price, and here’s what’s happening, now we’ve got a hiring agreement and we’ve been able to hire 150 teachers in September, so we’re getting as competitive as and other places,” said Patterson School Principal Eileen Shafer.

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But that leaves teachers on the old contract, so teachers keep leaving, meaning every classroom gets more crowded.

“Class sizes are increasing, it’s limiting the amount of time staff can give students one-on-one, and students are overwhelmed because they don’t have access to you,” said teacher Todd Pipkin.

Many are leaving Paterson, but many more want to stay.

“We’re doing this because we love our kids, we’re doing this because we love Paterson, I don’t want to leave Paterson, I was born and raised in Paterson, I want to stay here and work,” teacher Rhonda Johnson said.

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