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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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Photos: Middlesex Somerset CLC Scholarship Breakfast and Awards

Honoring Ronald Rios for the Hubert H. Humphrey Friend of Labor Award and Donna Chiera for the Middlesex and Somerset Counties AFL-CIO Central Labor Council’s Labor Person of the Year Award.

Posted by AFT New Jersey on Sunday, April 26, 2015

Students speak out at Rutgers open budgeting hearing

By Mary Ellen Cagnassola

The air was thick with tension at the open hearing on the University’s budget last night at the College Avenue Student Center, where students, faculty and members of the Rutgers community made it clear how the University’s financial decisions directly affect them.

Photo by Ruoxuan Yang | Students hold posters protesting tuition hikes and increasing student debt at a budget hearing yesterday evening at the College Avenue Student Center.

[...]

The Union of Rutgers Administrators-American Federation of Teachers also made its presence known at the hearing, urging the BOG to freeze tuition and not faculty salaries.
Representatives highlighted several instances of what they feel are examples of unnecessary spending, citing the $1.2 million in severance pay to former basketball coach Mike Rice and former Athletic Director Tim Pernetti following the Mike Rice abuse scandal.

According to URA-AFT, Rutgers staff have seen salary freezes, increased health insurance and pension costs since 2008.

Lucye Millerand, president of URA-AFT, said that at the bargaining table, URA-AFT is repeatedly told that Rutgers cannot pay their salary package.

“We stay and work hard, but the Rutgers budget puts a higher priority on golden parachutes for coaches and executives who embarrass the University,” she said. “We’ve run the numbers, and we’re very sure that Rutgers has in reserves enough to raise salaries and freeze tuition.”

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Rutgers students demand a tuition freeze

By Monsy Alvarado and Patricia Alex, Staff Writers, The Record

One by one, students stood before members of the Rutgers governing body on Thursday to tell them they could not afford tuition increases at the state institution — which has spent millions on construction, athletics and most recently a huge medical school merger.

Katherine Hood of Jackson, a junior at Rutgers, holds up a sign during the protest at a hearing by the Rutgers Board of Governors on Thursday, April 23, 2015, in New Brunswick.

“We need a tuition freeze because so many of my friends are struggling with this,” said Hannah Roe, a senior from Montclair. “This is an issue of our generation.”

About 75 students, many carrying placards, and Rutgers University staff attended the hearing on the school’s budget, tuition and fees for the 2015-16 school year. The gathering was held at the Student Center on College Avenue in New Brunswick. Tuition is set in the summer.

[...]

Several Rutgers staff members who belong to the Union of Rutgers Administrators attended the meeting and spoke about their need for raises. The union’s contract expired in August.

Lucye Millerand, president of the union, pointed to the $1.2 million in severance pay Rutgers made to Mike Rice, a former men’s basketball coach, Tim Pernetti, former athletic director, and John Wolf, former interim senior vice president and general counsel, after their departure following a public outcry over a video that showed abusive behavior by Rice toward players on the court.

“Rutgers’ budget seems to have money for crazy priorities,” Millerand said. “That 1.2 million would be about a 1 percent raise for my entire union of 2,300 people. If there is money to reward people that embarrassed the university so badly they had to go, why does management tell us they don’t have that much money to bring an equivalent settlement with Rutgers’ faculty.”

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Newark teachers union to launch ‘informational picket lines’ in protest of superintendent

By Naomi Nix, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEWARK — The Newark Teachers union said Thursday its members will no longer “volunteer” to work extra hours after the school day ends in protest of several of Superintendent Cami Anderson’s reforms.

“I know you have been waiting for this,” John Abeigon, the union’s director of operations, told a crowd of about 50 inside the union’s headquarters.

Abeigon said that starting Tuesday the teachers will begin taking efforts to no longer work before or after their work day ends and to clock in and out at the same time.

Instead, the teachers will participate in “informational picket lines” during non-school day hours to explain their concerns to the public, according to Abeigon.

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Stockton president Saatkamp resigns amid Showboat dispute

By Jonathan Lai

Herman J. Saatkamp Jr., president of Stockton University since 2003, will step down this year, the school announced Wednesday, as it struggles to salvage its proposed Atlantic City Boardwalk campus.

His departure comes amid internal criticism of the university’s governance and a lack of transparency. Voting by faculty and staff concludes Thursday in a referendum on Saatkamp’s leadership.

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Lawmakers want accounting of money spent on effort to turn Atlantic City casino into campus

by Patricia Alex, Staff Writer, The Record
Stockton University purchased the former Showboat casino and hotel for $18 million in hopes of transforming the 26-acre property into a city campus.

AP FILE PHOTO
Stockton University purchased the former Showboat casino and hotel for $18 million in hopes of transforming the 26-acre property into a city campus.

Lawmakers want an accounting of what one of the state’s public colleges has spent in its imperiled quest to turn a casino-hotel in Atlantic City into a campus.

The chair of the state Senate’s budget committee on Thursday sent a letter to Stockton University President Herman Saatkamp asking him to appear before the panel next week to answer questions about the rushed purchase of the Showboat hotel and casino.

Stockton spent $18 million on the Mardis Gras-themed Boardwalk property in December and may be on the hook for millions more in carrying costs since a neighboring casino has refused to waive a restrictive covenant that requires the site to remain a casino.

The snag has many questioning whether Saatkamp and the school properly vetted the deal, and the president this week announced he will resign at the end of the summer.

“I had called this proposal bizarre from the beginning, and now that it has collapsed there are a lot of questions,” said Sen. Paul Sarlo, the budget chair. “Clearly what has developed over the last three months is beyond bizarre.”

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Little Things Count Big in State Budget

By John Mooney

Language changes tucked into appropriations act drastically hike what some districts will have to pay toward charter school cost

Gov. Chris Christie, just like other governors, focuses on broad themes in his annual state budget address.

But some of the really significant details can be found tucked into the arcane language of the voluminous appropriations act that accompanies each year’s proposed budget.

[...]

Newark will see the biggest impact, with a $38 million difference this year and $24 million next year.

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Coalition Tells Rutgers Management To Settle Contracts; Freeze Tuition

CONTACT: Nat T. Bender, nbender [@] aftnj.org, 908-377-0393

Students, faculty and staff identify funding surplus in reserve funds

Rutgers students, faculty and staff are decrying excessive spending on athletics and executive compensation while vital academic departments budgets are depleted, calling for more support for students and an investment in staff comparable with faculty. At a Board of Governors budget hearing, activists are calling for more transparency in making decisions about finances including bargaining fair contracts for workers and freezing tuition.

“The University’s budget is a statement of priorities and we believe Rutgers leadership should place value on compensating staff properly,” said Union of Rutgers Administrators-American Federation of Teachers (URA-AFT) President Lucye Millerand. “President Barchi says that Rutgers is in excellent financial health and we believe that Rutgers could easily afford to raise staff salaries as well as freezing tuition this year.” Millerand pointed to a surplus of more than a billion dollars in reserves that should be utilized to fill vital campus needs.

Representatives of Students For Shared Governance, a coalition of student organizations at Rutgers, are petitioning for a stronger adherence to student voice in academic affairs and governance. The group is joining staff testifying at the hearing. They are calling for regular meetings between high-level management and student groups, and stronger consideration of student voices on issues like tuition.

Workers at Rutgers have lost considerable financial ground over the past five years due to wage freezes, rising medical and pension payments and frozen cost of living increases, according to School of Arts and Sciences Business Manager Heather DeMeo. She calculates that a three percent raise for staff would cost 88% less than was spent on the athletics shortfall in 2014.

“As staff, we believe in the Rutgers vision and we are asking Rutgers to invest in us,” said DeMeo. “If Rutgers were a body, faculty would supply the brains and students the heart, but staff is the backbone. You cannot stand tall without a strong backbone.”

The Rutgers Association of American University Professors-AFT (AAUP-AFT), which represents faculty from the legacy Rutgers departments of the university, have signed a contract which provides more in raises and salary upgrades than the university negotiators are offering to the staff.

Anthropology Professor David M. Hughes admonished Rutgers management to remember who actually administers the university citing upcoming Rutgers Day as an example. “Don’t overlook the backbone of the university,” he said. “While you compensate yourselves handsomely, consider compensating the staff fairly. A great university depends upon motivating great people to continue doing a great job.”

The Board of Governors holds the open hearing pledging testimony will help inform the administration and board members during the development of the university’s 2015–2016 budget, tuition, fees, and housing and dining charges.

[END]

Statement by AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera on Legislative Leadership Supporting Public Union Case For Pension Funding

“New Jersey needs a budget that generates revenue, creates jobs and helps to stimulates the overall economy. On behalf of 30,000 education workers in the state, I welcome the news that Senate President Stephen Sweeney and General Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto are joining our action to fix the unfunded liability created by Governor Christie irresponsibly and illegally skipping pension payments. We need legislators in Trenton who are planning long-term to stabilize the pension system and invest in people and projects that will fuel growth and fund services for citizens.”

Fine Print: State Arbitrator Slams Newark – and State – Over Teacher Evaluations

Latest ruling again rejects school district’s ‘arbitrary and capricious’ criteria for denying tenure

By John Mooney

What it is: State arbitrator Tia Schneider Denenberg on March 30 overturned the Newark public schools’ tenure charges against Thirteenth Avenue School teacher Rinita Williams based on “inefficiency,” the legal term for ineffective teaching.

What it means: The decision continues Newark’s dismal record in cases heard under the state’s new teacher tenure law, known as TEACHNJ.

Under state-appointed Superintendent Cami Anderson, the Newark school district has been by far the state’s most aggressive in filing tenure charges – but it has won just one of 13 tenure cases involving allegedly ineffective teachers.

What’s different this time: Up to now, most of the decisions against Newark have hinged on the district’s claims that it could legally use teacher evaluations from 2012-13, before TEACHNJ went into full effect, in its tenure charges.

But the latest tenure case went beyond such a claim. In this instance, Denenberg also rejected Newark’s cases on the grounds that the district did not properly evaluate Williams and did not give her required support.

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