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Join the Union

AFTNJ’s objective is to promote state wide organization and unionization of public and private school teachers, paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and staff; other workers organized in conformity with More »

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Prekindergarten – 12

From the state’s largest school district to small privates, AFTNJ stands up for New Jersey’s students. Our members teach early childhood education to prepare kids for school, special education and every topic More »

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Higher Education

The American Federation of Teachers New Jersey is the largest higher education union in the state, representing full and part-time faculty, all levels of administrative, professional and supervisory staff, graduate workers, and More »

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AFTNJ Activism

AFTNJ members advocate for education and stand up for social justice. More »

NJ Student Loan Agency To Staff: Don’t Tell Borrowers About Help Unless They Ask

By Annie Waldman, Propublica

It’s yet another obstacle for borrowers from the country’s largest state-based college loan program

Some restaurants have secret menus, special items that you can only get if you know to ask. New Jersey’s student loan program has secret options, too — borrowers may be able to get help from the agency, but only if they know to ask.

New Jersey has the largest state-based student loan program in the country, with particularly stringent terms that can lead to financial ruin, as ProPublica and the New York Times recently detailed. The agency overseeing the program says it has a policy to help some families if the children who were supposed to benefit from the loans die.

But internal emails show that staffers at the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, or HESAA, have been instructed not to tell families that they may qualify for help unless they explicitly ask.

“Families of deceased borrowers (or surviving cosigners) must inquire if HESAA has a policy on loan forgiveness,” a supervising staffer wrote in an email to employees in May 2016. “We should not be volunteering this information.”

More>>

How Can New Jersey, Other States Rescue Underfunded Pension Systems?

By John Reitmeyer

NJ Senate President Sweeney says officials need to be honest with the public and state workers about the problem

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), left, participating in a panel discussion on state pension funding Other panelists, from left, included former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former New York Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch.
State public-employee pension systems across the country are facing a combined $1 trillion in debt, and many states, including New Jersey, aren’t getting much help on the investment side these days thanks to stubbornly low interest rates. Medical breakthroughs are also testing the math of pension systems as retired workers are now living much longer.

But experts participating in a panel discussion yesterday on state-pension problems that included New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) weren’t ready to throw in the towel and say states should just give up and let their pension systems go bust.

Instead, the group that gathered in Philadelphia for the pension talk organized by Penn Mutual Asset Management took a more optimistic view. Boosting government pension funding, rethinking investment strategies, and adopting reforms were all presented as ways to ensure state pension systems can survive their current challenges. Creating portable retirement plans and using pension assets to finance infrastructure investments were also discussed as future goals during the event, held during the ongoing Democratic National Convention.

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NJ beleaguered pension system could get a boost under this new pitch

By Samantha Marcus, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

PHILADELPHIA — Just a few miles from the Democratic National Convention, party leaders — including Senate President Stephen Sweeney and one of the campaign’s early presidential candidates — put the big New Jersey problem of public employee pensions center stage.

And Sweeney offered a new path, saying New Jersey’s beleaguered pension system should consider investing in infrastructure projects for more reliable returns.

With a weak bond market, Sweeney said it’s time the state revisit its investment strategy, purchasing stakes in infrastructure to boost improvements and generate returns for the pension fund, which is bowing under the weight of its unfunded liabilities.

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Tell John King: We have some recommendations

Your voice was critical in the enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act, and we need your input again before the rules on accountability systems—that is, the rules around what counts in determining which schools are identified for supports—become final.

Sign our petition to the Department of Education on ESSA regulations before the Aug. 1 deadline.

Our members made it a priority to get the implementation of ESSA right, when we passed a resolution last week at our convention on engaging members and affiliates in implementing the law. As more responsibilities and decision-making are returned to states and districts, we commit to use the opportunity to fight for high-quality public education for all students, and resources and respect for educators.

Show your commitment to fighting for ESSA by signing this petition.

Some of the proposed regulations reinforce the law’s flexibility for states around incorporating non-test measures into accountability systems, and allowing schools and their communities to choose interventions for struggling schools. But we have some major concerns and must push for improvements before these rules become final.

It is important that you add your voice before these rules are finalized. Sign this petition now.

Without enough time to put in place all of the measures in their accountability systems, states will revert back to what they already have—test-driven accountability systems. We spent too much time fighting for a good bipartisan fix to No Child Left Behind; we have to make sure we get ESSA right.

Sign the petition now.
In unity,
Donna M. Chiera
Chair, AFT Teachers Program and Policy Council

Press: Perth Amboy Teachers Reach Tentative Agreement with Board of Education

The Perth Amboy Federation, AFT Local 857, AFL-CIO and the Perth Amboy Board of Education are pleased to announce that they have reached a tentative agreement for a new three-year contract covering the period July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2018.

The Federation expects to hold a ratification vote in early September. If the settlement is approved by the members, the Board of Education expects to conduct its vote at its September meeting.

The Federation’s negotiations team was led by Donna Tartza. Jose Rodriquez served as negotiations chair for the Board’s team. Both chairs had praise for the hard work and dedication shown in reaching the settlement.

Hillary reserves ‘seat at the table’ for AFT

Donna M. Chiera and Secretary Hillary R. Clinton

Donna M. Chiera and Secretary Hillary R. Clinton

#IamWithHer

Hillary Clinton drew big cheers and rounds of thunderous applause from AFT convention delegates July 18 when she detailed a strong vision for public schools and the public sector—one that steers clear of derision and division as it charts a new course toward well-resourced institutions, effective community connections, and solid school strategies forged in partnership with educators on the frontline.

The presumptive Democratic nominee flatly rejected any effort to return to top-down reform. Real school improvement, she insisted, is something that requires the voices, talent and buy-in of professionals who do the work every day.

“I want to thank you for being one of the essential partners for everything we need to do to move the country in the right direction,” Clinton declared to enthusiastic applause. “I want to say right from the outset that I’m with you.

“When I’m president, you will have a partner in the White House, and you will always have a seat at the table.”

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Rutgers hikes tuition for 2016-17 school year

By Adam Clark, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW BRUNSWICK — Tuition and fees for Rutgers University’s undergraduate students in New Brunswick will increase 1.7 percent, or about $241 this fall, the lowest price hike in five years at New Jersey’s state university.

[…]

But David Hughes, president of Rutgers’ faculty union, said Rutgers shouldn’t be content with a lower increase than other universities. As one of the most expensive state universities in the nation, Rutgers should be trying to lower its price, he said.

“Really the only comparison that matters, and the only one you need to consider, is whether the board is doing as much as it can do to make Rutgers affordable or doing less than it can do,” Hughes said.

Mariah Wood, a junior majoring in labor and employment relations and philosophy, urged the board not to approve the tuition increase. She struggles to pay her bills now and worries she won’t be able to pay off her college loans after graduation, she said.

“It’s really demoralizing to look at my decision to go to college as a mistake,” Wood said.

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Ballot Question On Pension Payments Gets Dragged Into TTF Wrangle

By John Reitmeyer

Deadline nears for putting new pension payments on November ballot, but impasse between Christie and Sweeney on transportation funding gets in the way

A statewide ballot question that would require increasing payments into New Jersey’s grossly underfunded public-employee pension system has now been dragged into the debate over renewing the state Transportation Trust Fund. Senate President Stephen Sweeney fears the state won’t be able to fund the bigger payments if the sales tax is also cut this year, which is part of Gov. Chris Christie’s solution for the TTF.

Public-worker unions enthusiastically back the proposal to amend the state constitution, which calls for more robust state pension contributions, and they remain confident it will pass the Senate one more time, which is the last step needed to put the ballot question before voters this fall. In fact, ads backed by the New Jersey Education Association in support of funding the pension system are already airing on television as a state deadline for getting questions on the ballot is now less than three weeks away.

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AFT Adjunct Faculty Caucus Elects New Leaders

AFT Adjunct Faculty Caucus
(left to right):
President. Bill Lipkin (NJ)
Vice President. Geoffrey Johnson (CA)
Secretary. Jenny Shanker (PA)
Member at large. Arnie Korotkin (NJ)
Treasurer. Leonard Winogora (NJ)

Election 2016: Get Active, Get Involved Aug. 11 in New Brunswick

elections matter

Join your colleagues for a free workshop for AFT leaders, activists and members who want to learn more and work on this election.

Tentative Agenda

  • What’s at Stake Nationally?
  • NJ Ballot Initiatives
  • Pension funding

How You Can Help

  • Voter Registration
  • Vote by Mail
  • Phone Banking
  • Labor Walks
  • Member to Member Contacts

When
Thursday, August 11, 2016
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Where
Cook Campus Center, Multipurpose Room BC
50 Biel Road, New Brunswick, NJ

Light Refreshments

RSVP
Limited space is available.  Reservation required:
Email Krista Sweeney or call 732-661-9393

Download printable flier

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