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Form A 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 »


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 »


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

Unity Rally Saturday Kicks Off 72 Days Of Action On Gun Violence

Assembly Starts at 12 noon at Folger Park on 2nd Street SE
Rally Begins at 1 pm at NRA lobbying HQ on the 400 block of 1st Street SE

On the day before the anniversary of the I Have a Dream speech, join Reverend Al Sharpton, Founder and President, National Action Network; Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers (AFT); Martin Luther King, III and more than two dozen allies as we call for an America with dramatically fewer guns, dramatically harder to get.

The rally, held on August 27, will give participants the opportunity to speak to media in one of the settings that matters most: on the doorstep of the powerful Washington special interest that has facilitated the deaths of many thousands of our fellow citizens. Enough.

We invite you to RALLY WITH US and the chorus so we speak with one, powerful voice for a safer nation.

Starting the following day, August 28, we will kick off 72 days of direct action against the gun lobby – a sustained drumbeat through Election Day 2016. We intend to keep the message – and hope – alive until the day Americans vote.

Facebook event page>>

Get on the Bus for the Unity Rally in DC

The American Federation of Teachers will be providing a bus from Philadelphia to the National Action Network’s Unity Rally in Washington, DC on Saturday, August 27The bus will be leaving from Parkway Center City High School at 8:45 a.m., and return to Philly around 6 p.m.

WHAT: Bus to Unity Rally in DC

WHEN: Saturday, August 27 | Arrive by 8:30 a.m. | Return to Philly around 6 p.m.

WHERE: Parkway Center City High School, 540 N. 13th Street (1/2 block north of Spring Garden Street) PARKING WILL BE AVAILABLE

Please Register>>

After 21 years, local control poised to return to Newark schools next fall

By Jessica Mazzola, NJ Advance Media for

NEWARK — Complete local control of the Newark schools should be fully restored by the 2017-18 school year, according to a report released Monday afternoon by the Newark Education Success Board — the 9-member panel co-created by Gov. Chris Christie and Mayor Ras Baraka last year to help guide the transition back to local control.

The group’s 45-page report, “Pathway to Local Control,” includes an assessment of the district’s current operations, and hundreds of recommendations for continued reform efforts it should implement in the lead up to, and immediately after, the state hands over the reigns to the locally-elected school advisory board and its to-be-determined choice for a superintendent.

In the lead up to the 20th anniversary of the state’s takeover of the Newark public school system, the atmosphere in the city was tense. Students, parents, and civic leaders regularly protested school leadership. Baraka often called for then-Superintendent Cami Anderson’s resignation, and when asked why he was reappointing her to the top position in the state-controlled district, Christie said, “I don’t care about the community criticism. We run the school district in Newark, not them.”

Just about a year later, all of that has changed. Now, an end is in sight, and everyone is agreeing on it.


AFT condemns violence against Mexican teachers

Riot police are forced to fall back as they confront protesting teachers who were blocking a federal highway in the state of Oaxaca, near the town of Nochixtlan, Mexico, Sunday, June 19, 2016. The teachers are demonstrating against plans to overhaul the country's education system which include federally mandated teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Luis Alberto Cruz Hernandez)

Riot police are forced to fall back as they confront protesting teachers who were blocking a federal highway in the state of Oaxaca, near the town of Nochixtlan, Mexico, Sunday, June 19, 2016. The teachers are demonstrating against plans to overhaul the country’s education system which include federally mandated teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Luis Alberto Cruz Hernandez)

Teachers and activists in Oaxaca, Mexico—who were peacefully protesting against education reforms—were victims of lethal force from federal government police in June, an outrageous and tragic event the AFT has been forcefully condemning. In a resolution passed at the AFT convention, union leaders expressed solidarity with Mexican educators and called on the Mexican government to create an independent commission of inquiry around the violence. They also demand the government engage in good-faith negotiations with all stakeholders, stressing that dialogue and collaboration are the means to find common ground for what is best for teachers, students and their communities. In addition, the AFT is filing a complaint to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in support of the cause of justice for 43 missing Mexican student-teachers, whose disappearances two years ago remain unsolved and whose perpetrators remain unpunished.

Read the resolution, “Support for the Mexican Teachers’ Civil Rights”

Hear a radio interview with AFT President Randi Weingarten about the conflict

Funding the Pension Long Game

Over the past year, AFT New Jersey leaders and activists have been working intensely on building support for an amendment to the state constitution to mandate quarterly pension payments. Our members distributed educational literature about the benefits of the measure, knocked on doors to talk to other union members and made phone calls to raise awareness of the importance of funding public worker pensions.

While we remain strongly in favor of this fiscally-sound, fair and appropriate course of action, the legislation to put the question to voters in this year’s Nov. 8 General Election ballot did not advance through the Senate. Claiming Trenton politics and the state’s economic outlook without resolving the Transportation Treasury Fund would cause voters to reject the ballot item, Senate President Steve Sweeney opted not to post the measure for a second vote and well-publicized controversy ensued.

“We will continue to advocate for full pension funding to legislators in Trenton,” said AFT New Jersey President Donna M. Chiera. “Educators, health care workers and public employees defer compensation for decades to fund retirement with dignity. We never miss a payment.” Chiera noted the state’s failure to fund the pension system has resulted in numerous credit downgrades, making it more difficult to balance the budget while providing for critical public services and a safe infrastructure.

“Union advocacy has been successful in cutting outrageous fees paid to Wall Street managers by reducing the ratio of investments in hedge fund and risky alternatives,” said Chiera. “We need to continue to educate members, voters and legislators, including our next Governor, about the importance of a stable pension system to the state’s economy.”

For more information: N.J. Pension-Funding Measure Off 2016 Ballot as Deadline Missed

AFT New Jersey Joins Labor, Business, and Consumer Groups In Calling On Legislative Leaders To Pass The Out-of-Network Consumer Protection Bill

Note: AFT New Jersey, HPAE, Council of New Jersey State College Locals, and locals 1904 at Montclair State University, Rutgers AAUP – AFT and Union of Rutgers Administrators each signed on to the letter.

A letter signed by 34 groups, including major health care consumer groups, unions and employers who provide coverage for their members and employees, was sent today to Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Senate President Stephen Sweeney. The groups call on both leaders to support the Out-of-Network Consumer Protection, Cost Containment, Transparency and Accountability Act (A1952/S1285) that has been stalled in the legislature.

Maura Collinsgru, Health Care Program Director for New Jersey Citizen Action said, “We are frustrated by the rhetoric of those who say we must protect consumers, yet are not supporting this bill, one of the strongest out-of-network consumer protection bills in the nation. We must prioritize consumers over profits and pass a bill that expands protections while reining in costs.”

The letter calls for leadership to support the legislation, which will save New Jerseyans nearly $1 billion annually and result in an estimated $140 million in savings to the State Health Benefits Plan. This would account for more than half of the $250 million in savings the Governor has demanded from the State Health Benefits plan this year. All of the unions who sit on the State Health Benefit Design Committee/State Education Health Design Committees signed onto the letter and unanimously support the bill.

Jean Otersen, Chief of Staff for HPAE who signed onto the letter said, “Health care workers continue to see patients hit with high medical bills they never expected to receive from their providers. As health care workers, we support this legislation to better inform patients and give them the information they need to avoid surprise medical bills while helping to provide needed savings in the State Health Benefits Plan.”

The bill was introduced early in the year and has been stalled in both the Assembly and Senate since June.

Out-of-network charges are driving costs higher for both individual consumers and businesses. Mary Beaumont, Vice-President of New Jersey Business and Industry Association said, “Health care costs are a number one concern of our members. This legislation will help bring those costs under control. Consumers and businesses should not have to face the continual threat of ever higher premiums and medical bills for involuntary out-of-network services from providers not in their networks.”

Chuck Bell, Programs Director for Consumers Union, who has been collecting stories of New Jersey consumers impacted by these surprise out-of-network bills said, “Consumers overwhelmingly want to be taken out of the middle of disputes between their health plan and provider. Every day more families are being harmed. We strongly urge legislators to pass this carefully-developed, comprehensive legislation now, so consumers don’t have to wait another year or more for these vital new protections to take effect.”

Guaranteed Funding For State Pensions Probably Won’t Make Ballot

John Reitmeyer

Sweeney continues to tie the amendment to getting a veto-proof majority for his plan to renew the Transportation Trust Fund

Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) was supported by advocates for seniors and the disabled as well as union and construction representatives.

With the deadline for final legislative approval of a proposed constitutional amendment to boost public-employee pension funding now just days away, it appears more likely than ever that it will not be put before voters this fall.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) continues to say he won’t allow the issue to go on the ballot if the state can’t afford to make the series of ramped-up pension contributions the amendment calls for. With Democrats still at odds with Gov. Chris Christie over renewing the state Transportation Trust Fund, that remains an open question.

Funding the pension system and paying for transportation projects seem to be completely unrelated issues, and many have been confused that they’re now linked so closely together, especially as an Aug. 8 deadline for approving ballot questions has drawn so close. But years of only modest state revenue growth and Christie’s insistence that a significant tax cut has to be part of any deal to renew the TTF has now effectively put public workers and transportation advocates in a battle for the same limited budget resources.

Advocates for the disabled, seniors, and others who rely on state-funded safety net programs were among those who came to the State House yesterday to support Sweeney and to call for a resolution to the TTF impasse that doesn’t destroy the state budget. But leaders of public-worker unions, still smarting from bribery accusations that Sweeney leveled at them earlier in the week, countered by openly questioning his commitment to fixing a pension system that is at least $44 billion in debt after years of underfunding.


Ms. Chiera Goes to Philadelphia

AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera was a delegate to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.

VIDEO: NJ Delegates Excited For Night One of Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia
July 26, 2016

Philadelphia – The Democratic National Convention kicked off in Philadelphia Monday night and the New Jersey delegates are excited for the week ahead.

Donna M. Chiera

AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera

Delegates from all over the garden state were excited to get things started last night.

“Getting here, getting on the floor, feeling the energy, feeling the excitement. I’m just excited, I’m glad I’m a part of the New Jersey delegation,” said NJ Delegate Donna Chiera.

Ann Twomey

HPAE-AFT President Ann Twomey

“Looking forward to hearing some good speeches. Looking forward more to the outcome of unity between all the candidates and all the delegates,” said NJ Delegate Ann Twomey.


2016 DNC: Sanders pledges to do “all that he can” to get Clinton elected
Asbury Park Press, Karen Yi, Mike Davis and Jerry Carino, @njhoopshaven
11:12 a.m. EDT July 26, 2016

PHILADELPHIA – The first day of the Democratic National Convention kicked off Monday as New Jersey’s delegation heard from a slate of speakers about bringing together the party to beat Donald Trump come November.

Donna Chiera, 61, a Clinton delegate from Perth Amboy said this was the time for Sanders supporters to air their grievance.

“This is certainly what democracy stands for, they are having their say,” said Chiera, president of American Federation of Teachers New Jersey. “ You notice here at the Democratic convention no one’s running around telling them they have to be quiet or moving them out. This is democracy, they’ll have their say. I truly believe tonight’s the night they feel they have to speak out.”


NJ Delegation Feeling The “Bern” Over Emails On Day 1 Of DNC
July 25, 2016 11:46 AM By David Madden

(credit: David Madden)
(credit: David Madden)

Clinton delegate Donna Chiera of Perth Amboy considers the email controversy an unnecessary distraction that Bernie supporters need to put in the rear view mirror.

“They may not like the noise around Hillary,” she said. “They may not like her VP selection. But the alternative is Donald Trump.”


New Jersey slashes hedge fund allocation amid poor returns

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

New Jersey’s state pension fund plans to slash its hedge fund investments by half, becoming the latest large investor to protest high fees and poor returns after New York and California made similar moves.

The New Jersey Investment Council on Wednesday unanimously voted to reduce its exposure to hedge funds to 6 percent from 12.5 percent, the state and a union official said.

The state has roughly $9 billion invested in hedge funds including ValueAct Capital Partners, Brevan Howard LP, and Och-Ziff Capital Management.

The decision followed months of mounting pressure from unions that complained about the pension funds paying hundreds of millions of dollars in fees to poorly performing hedge funds.

“It was done because hedge funds have failed to deliver,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said in a statement, praising the decision for saving “working people hundreds of millions over the coming years.”


N.J. to slash pension investments in hedge funds that were criticized by unions

Samantha Marcus, NJ Advance Media for

TRENTON — The State Investment Council on Wednesday agreed to slash New Jersey’s investments of public-sector pension dollars in hedge funds by more than half, responding to labor union concerns that the alternative investments aren’t paying off.

At the council’s last meeting in May, union representatives called for drastic reduction in the pension system’s hedge fund stake, from 12.5 percent to 4 percent, but the move failed on a tie vote. Council members appointed by Gov. Chris Christie warned such a change would be imprudent without fully vetting its impact on the total investment strategy.

The compromise plan will see the investments cut back to 6 percent, and reduce the investment in alternatives from about one-third to a quarter.

“This is a good first step to significantly reduce hedge fund exposure,” Adam Liebtag, vice chairman of the council and a representative of the AFL-CIO, said in a statement. “The new plan will reduce fees by $120 million and help put the pension plan on stronger footing.”

Liebtag wanted to shift that money to standard investments such as cash, stocks and bonds.


AFT Applauds NJ Public Pension Hedge Fund Divestment

WASHINGTON— American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and AFT New Jersey state federation President Donna M. Chiera on the unanimous decision of the New Jersey State Investment Council to drop its hedge fund allocation from 12 percent to 6 percent and cut its hedge fund fee structure:
AFT President Randi Weingarten said: “Workers and the public they serve deserve to know that the trustees responsible for investing their pensions have their best interests front and center. That is why today’s unanimous vote by the New Jersey PERS trustees to cut their hedge fund investment in half is so important. New Jersey’s reallocation of $4.5 billion out of hedge funds is even larger than the California Public Employees’ Retirement System’s divestment in 2014, and it was done because hedge funds have failed to deliver. Trustees also voted to cut allowable hedge fund fees to half of the typical amount, a move that will save working people hundreds of millions over the coming years.
“Our report ‘All That Glitters Is Not Gold‘ found that N.J. retirees would have earned $1.1 billion more if trustees had never invested in hedge funds, and further would have saved $1.6 billion paid in fees to hedge fund managers. We’re glad to see that public pension trustees nationwide are now taking a long, hard look at the gap between hedge funds’ promises and their actual results. Union members worked hard and deferred wages to build a secure retirement for their families. Their pensions shouldn’t be gambled on risky bets or wasted on high fees that only enrich the wolves of Wall Street and Gov. Christie’s cronies.”
AFT New Jersey State Federation President Donna M. Chiera said: “The State Investment Council has a responsibility to manage pension funds wisely, and this is a step in the right direction. Reducing the allocation of hedge funds and alternative investments means more money stays in the underfunded system and goes toward its intended purpose—to allow teachers, nurses, firefighters and public workers to retire with dignity after decades of tireless, dedicated service to our state’s citizens. This is the right thing to do and will help stabilize the state’s economy as a whole.”
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