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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 »

Bus to Philadelphia, campaign for PA Labor Candidates

Join other AFTNJ members, UFT members from New York and PFT members, students and progressive activists to campaign for labor supported candidates in Pennsylvania.
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Randi Weingarten

AFT National President Randi Weingarten

Join Randi Weingarten in Philadelphia next Saturday. “Pennsylvanians will not be fooled: They know that Gov. Corbett has robbed Philadelphia’s schools of desperately needed funding. They know that teachers and support staff are doing everything they can to fill in the gaps. And they know we need new leadership that will reinstate a fair funding formula. Philadelphia’s children deserve better.”

Get on the Bus
Where: Labor Education Center, 50 Labor Center Way, New Brunswick, NJ
When: Sat, Oct 25, 2014, 8:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Lunch will be provided at the destination.
Sign Up>>
Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf received a unanimous endorsement from the members of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Executive Council which represents over 800,000 union workers, the largest labor organization in Pennsylvania.

“Over the last four years, our economy has struggled, our schools have suffered from misguided cuts, and Pennsylvania has fallen to the bottom in job creation. If we are going to strengthen Pennsylvania’s economy, we need to rebuild our middle class by making sure our policies place them on level playing field. At my company, I paid my workers a living wage, gave them great benefits, and even shared 20 to 30 percent of my profits with them. I will bring this same level of fairness to governing, and I will restore Tom Corbett’s drastic cuts to education and give our Commonwealth a fresh start,” Tom Wolf said.

President Bloomingdale and Secretary-Treasurer Snyder also announced the endorsement of Democratic State Senator Mike Stack for Lieutenant Governor. Mr. Stack has a very strong record of supporting workers as a member of the State Senate and is also a member of the Philadelphia chapter of SAG-AFTRA.


Meet Us There
If you would like to travel on your own, we will be working out of the Seafarers Int’l Union Hall, 2604 S. 4th Street, Phila Pa 19148. Meet at 9:45 AM. Lunch will be provided.

Arbitrator Rules Newark Teacher Must Be Rehired, Given Back Pay

Decision says schools Superintendent Cami Anderson was premature in citing dismissal guidelines in state’s new tenure law

By John Mooney

Amid all the debate surrounding her tenure as state-appointed leader of New Jersey’s largest school district, Newark schools Superintendent Cami Anderson has taken special pride in being able to retain and reward exemplary teachers while removing the poor ones.

But Anderson was dealt a setback last week when a state-appointed arbitrator rejected the first of dozens of tenure charges filed by Anderson, saying she had jumped the gun when she tried to use the state’s new tenure law to remove a teacher.

Anderson and the Newark Public Schools had maintained in the tenure charges filed against teacher Sandra Cheatham that she had received two consecutive years of “ineffective” or “partially effective” ratings, apparent grounds for losing her tenure protections under the new law, known as TEACHNJ.

But arbitrator Stephen Bluth found that the law itself had only been in effect since 2013, adding that while the district had run its evaluation system the year before on a pilot basis, it did not count toward the state’s law applicability.

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State’s Top Democrats Take Stock of Education Reforms in the Offing

Sweeney, Prieto say they mostly support Common Core and related testing, but predict big adjustments ahead for NJ schools

By John Mooney

With New Jersey deep into incorporating the Common Core State Standards and about to debut new online tests for its public schools, the state’s Legislature has been caught in the position of having little say at this point — but still talking and hearing plenty about it.

At an education conference yesterday, the state’s two top Democratic legislative leaders took the opportunity to say their piece on the school reforms — and on where the state is heading next.

Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, both speaking on a panel about the politics of the Common Core, said they were largely supportive of the Christie administration’s path so far.

But they were also clearly keeping open their options as debate continues to swirl around the standards and especially their much-argued testing, known as the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

Sweeney, arguably the second-most-powerful politician in the state at the moment and said to have an eye on the governor’s seat in 2017, said the deal struck with Gov. Chris Christie this summer, minimizing the use of the new testing in teacher evaluations for at least a year, was a positive step.
[...]
A complete archived livestream of the event is here

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Video: @BWatsonColeman Congress should debate what our country should stand for

The Adjunct Crisis Is Everyone’s Problem

 

Strikers picketing during the 1913 Rochester, New York, Garment Workers' Strike.

Strikers picketing during the 1913 Rochester, New York, Garment Workers' Strike.

In 2012, I got my Ph.D. and left academia with no regrets. Like all decisions based on financial stability, it was not so much a decision as a reaction.

Academia, I had discovered, was not an industry in which one works for pay but one in which you must pay to work. New Ph.D.’s are expected to move around the country in temporary postdocs or visiting professor jobs until finding tenure-track positions — financially impossible for me as a mother of two – or stay where they are and work as adjuncts with no job security and an average wage of $2,700 per course. While making an income below the poverty line, a new Ph.D. is expected to spend thousands of dollars on job interviews at conferences in expensive cities and write paywalled papers for free.

I left. But there is no escaping the consequences of academia’s reliance on contingent labor. If you do not experience the adjunct crisis directly as an academic, you may well experience it as a citizen: as a student, a parent, or a professional facing a similar contingency crisis in your own field. The adjunct crisis in academe both reflects and advances a broader crisis in labor. Our exploited professors are teaching our future exploited workers.

On February 25, 2015, adjunct professors across the United States are planning to walk out of the classroom to protest their low pay, lack of benefits, and unfair treatment. Their struggle is one we all should support. Here are the reasons why you should care.

The plight of part-time professors at New Jersey’s public colleges

By Kelly Heyboer/FOR INSIDE JERSEY

BY LAST SPRING, Mary-Faith Cerasoli had had enough. She decided to go public with her secret.

The veteran teacher had a job teaching Italian and Spanish to students at Mercy College in Westchester and other colleges in New York City. But at night, she was sleeping in her car and buying groceries with food stamps.

 The percentage of adjuncts teaching at colleges and universities is at a historic high. (Amanda Brown)

The percentage of adjuncts teaching at colleges and universities is at a historic high. (Amanda Brown)

Cerasoli was a highly educated and respected adjunct college professor. But she was also homeless. Frustrated by her low pay — a few thousand dollars per class each semester — and lack of benefits, Cerasoli held a one-woman protest outside the New York State Education building in Albany. She did newspaper interviews about the plight of adjunct professors. She staged a five-day hunger strike. She made a jacket with “Homeless Prof.” emblazoned across her chest.

Cerasoli, now 53 and living in a room offered by someone who read her story, says she has no regrets about becoming the latest poster child for the plight of adjunct professors. Across the country, adjuncts are increasingly coming forward and banding together to demand better treatment by colleges and universities.

“We need to get the word out there,” says Cerasoli, who has also been looking for adjunct work at New Jersey colleges. “It’s hard because people are afraid to speak out. These colleges will retaliate. . . . When you’re adjuncting, it feels like the Vietnam War. You go into the office and you don’t know who your enemy is.”

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SRC’s contract slam hurts those most essential

By Clark DeLeon

Monday, Oct. 6, is another day that will live in infamy, now that the state’s School Reform Commission, in a Pearl Harbor-like sneak attack on organized labor, unilaterally ripped up the Philadelphia public school teachers’ union contract.

I haven’t changed my mind about the ultimate failure of public education in the city because of the complete lack of political will in Pennsylvania to properly fund a school system responsible for educating mostly poor, and mostly black or Hispanic children.

But I didn’t think the end game would be so badly played. Permit me to summarize:

After decades of annual financial crises, the fate of whether Philadelphia public schools would open their doors in September hinged on the approval in the state legislature of a bill that would affect Philadelphia nicotine addicts unwilling or unable to cross City Line to buy a pack of smokes to avoid the $2 tax.

I actually witnessed such a transaction at 45th and Baltimore Avenue, after the cigarette tax took effect. A guy in front of me at the cashier at 6:30 Tuesday morning had a 16-ounce container of coffee and he ordered a pack of Camel Lights. “What?” he said, when told he owed more than $9.

He hadn’t heard about the new tax. He looked in his wallet, but he had only $9. I told him that he could buy cheaper cigarettes in the suburbs. “Can I return the coffee?” he asked, and then left with the Camels.

With such a dependable tax base, school authorities expect to raise $230 million “in annual predictable funds.” Unless, you know, the tax base dies off or is inspired to quit or even walk across Cheltenham Avenue.

But within days of achieving funding salvation, the SRC turned on the very people who would deliver that salvation to the children of Philadelphia, the teachers and staff secretaries and nurses working without a net in the city’s public schools.

By breaking the teachers’ contract to require that union members pay up to $200 a month for health benefits formerly paid by the district, the SRC expects to save $70 million annually. But even with that money, a district official warned of another deficit next year.

What will they do then? Cannibalize pension funds? Auction off schools on eBay?

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New president says Essex County College on ‘path to exceed expectations’

By Naomi Nix, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEWARK — With conviction in her voice that carried throughout the auditorium, Essex County College president Gale Gibson today declared a new era of excellence for the school.

After being sworn in as the college’s 7th president Gibson gave an inaugural address that celebrated the colleges’s achievements and laid out a hopeful vision for the future.

“As my grandmother would say, you are placed in a position for a reason,” she said. “And I believe I am placed in Newark as the President of Essex County College to continue the greatness of this college.”

Gibson spoke before a crowd of about 300 in the school’s gymnasium, saying the school was pursuing the “path to exceed expectations.”

She bragged about various student achievements, including those who went on to attend Ivy League colleges or competed in the olympics.

“The great work we do at Essex County College is a well-kept secret, but it shouldn’t be,” she said.

Gibson also highlighted several of her plans and current initiatives for the college including increasing study abroad options, shifting more courses online and starting to award credits for life or work experiences.

“You can clap for that one.” she told the audience.

Still the school faces challenges. Even after the college’s accreditation was renewed in 2013, the graduation rate hovers below 10 percent, according to Gibson.

To that end, Gibson said, she plans to bring more college readiness coursework to Newark high school students to curb the share of students who need to take remedial classes in college.

Recently, 14 students from East Side High School graduated with the high school diplomas and associate degrees from Essex County College, she said.

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Thousands join street protest before raucous SRC meeting

Kristen A. Graham And Aubrey Whelan, Inquirer Staff Writers

Furious over the Philadelphia School Reform Commission’s move to unilaterally cancel its teachers’ contract, 3,000 people shut down North Broad Street on Thursday, vowing more disruptive action if the panel’s action is not undone.

The eyes of the nation are on Philadelphia, said American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, in town for a massive rally held before an SRC meeting.

“Philly is ground zero for injustice,” Weingarten told the crowd of sign-waving teachers, counselors, nurses, and supporters. “The SRC has become a morally bankrupt institution.”

“We’re not rolling over and we’re not taking it,” said Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

Joined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the SRC filed a motion for declaratory judgment Oct. 6 in Commonwealth Court to affirm its action, taken to save $54 million by making PFT members pay toward their health benefits. The union is expected to file a counter-motion shortly.

Labor will watch to see what the courts do, said Patrick Eiding, president of the Philadelphia Labor Council, AFL-CIO. If they don’t rule in the PFT’s favor, he said, watch out.

“We will turn this city upside down,” Eiding said. “We’ll see you in the streets if it’s not taken care of.”

Eiding and Henry Nicholas, president of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, alluded to the possibility of a general city strike – asking members of all unions to walk off their jobs – if the cancellation is not rescinded by the courts. PFT members are prohibited by law from striking.

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As Ebola Fears Touch Campuses, Officials Respond With an ‘Excess of Caution’

By Katherine Mangan

Colleges across the country faced Ebola scares this week that sent at least one graduate student to the hospital, several employees into quarantine, and untold numbers of students into an unnecessary panic.

The widespread fear that has gripped the nation since two health-care workers in Dallas contracted the Ebola virus from a Liberian man who died there on October 8 has campus officials performing a delicate dance.

On the one hand, they want to take extra precautions when there is even a remote chance Ebola might find its way onto their campuses. On the other hand, they’re trying to avoid what a University of Wisconsin epidemiologist called “hysterical reactions that are not based on science.”

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