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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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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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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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Impasse declared in Perth Amboy school negotiations

Insurance costs remain sticking point

PERTH AMBOY – The leadership of the Perth Amboy Federation-AFT has been notified that the Board of Education has declared an impasse regarding negotiations.

The union, which represents teachers and other district employees, received a letter Tuesday from the Machado Law Group, which represents the Board of Education containing a notice of impasse.

[...]

Union President Patricia Paradiso said the board filed for impasse after rejecting the union’s proposal to stagger health insurance costs so lower-paid workers would not pay as much.

“When increased health insurance costs were implemented, they were progressive,” said Paradiso, a third-grade teacher. “The union wants to see a decrease in health insurance costs for everyone.”

Paradiso said it’s hypocritical for an administrator like the superintendent of schools to pay 1.5 percent of this $200,000 salary for health insurance coverage while a teacher making one-third of that pays significantly more.

She said the money is available. She said the district just created four new top-level administrative positions allocating more than $500,000 in salaries for personnel who will never work inside a classroom.

“How much are these new administrative hires paying for health insurance while the costs for lowest-paid educators in the district continues to climb,” she said.

Paradiso called for a return to the bargaining table, adding the union has been active with pickets and protests outside of schools and parents are expressing solidarity with teachers and school personnel.

“Our members have great relationships with the community and many parents have signed on to our petition calling on the board to bargain in good faith,” she said.

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Press: Health Insurance Sticking Point As Perth Amboy Board Declares Impasse

Contact: Nat T. Bender, 908-377-0393, bender [at] aftnj.org
Union proposes progressive solution, while board would increase insurance costs

PERTH AMBOY…Long-stalled negotiations on an expired contract for educators hit a further snag as the Perth Amboy Board of Education filed for impasse, rejecting a union proposal to structure health insurance costs so lower paid workers would not pay as much. “When increased health insurance costs were implemented, they were progressive,” said union president Patricia Paradiso, a third-grade teacher. “The union wants to see a decrease in health insurance costs for everyone,” she said.

“All we want is a fair contract for hard-working Perth Amboy educators, who work with students in the schools every day,” said Paradiso. “It is hypocritical that a well compensated administrator like the superintendent is paying 1.5 percent of his two hundred-thousand dollar salary for coverage while a teacher making a third of that pays significantly more.”

The money is available in the district according to Paradiso. She said the district just created four new top-level administrative positions allocating more than a half-million dollar in salaries, for personnel who will never see the inside of a classroom. “How much are these new administrative hires paying for health insurance while the costs for lowest-paid educators in the district continue to climb?” she asked.

Paradiso decried the board’s move to impasse and called for a return to the bargaining table. She said the union has been active with pickets and protests outside of schools and parents are expressing solidarity with the students’ teachers and school personnel. “Our members have great relationships with the community and many parents have signed on to our petition calling on the board to bargain a fair deal.”

 [END]

The Perth Amboy Federation – American Federation of Teachers represents more than 1,400 teachers, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel. 

Golden Parachutes Of NJ Public College Presidents Cost Millions

By Mark Lagerkvist

Retiring college presidents can look forward to sabbaticals at full or partial pay, teaching positions, even automobiles

George Pruitt of Thomas Edison State University and R. Barbara Gitenstein of The College of New Jersey

George Pruitt of Thomas Edison State University and R. Barbara Gitenstein of The College of New Jersey

[...]

“Why would a president who runs an institution that’s totally online get this kind of compensation?” countered Susanna Tardi, vice president for higher education at the New Jersey chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. A university without a traditional faculty, TESU offers graduate and undergraduate degrees through online studies.

“There’s a lot of money that is wasted in higher education because of the lack of top-down accountability,” added Tardi.

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NJIT President’s $5.3m Contract Takes Top Spot Among NJ College Chiefs

By Mark Lagerkvist

To some critics, high salaries are hard to justify when students are struggling to pay tuition and more professors are needed at many schools

See also: The List: All The Presidents’ Pay And Perks At New Jersey’s Public Colleges

[...]

“The whole of idea of a bonus because you stay X number of years, I don’t understand that,” said Susanna Tardi, vice president for higher education at the New Jersey chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. “I don’t think it’s fair to taxpayers — and it does no benefit for higher education.”

According to Tardi, the money would be better spent on hiring more professors or lowering tuition for students.

[...]

“There’s too many perks involved,” said Tardi. “At every level there’s perks, that’s how it works. Should it be that way? No.”

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New Jersey’s Deep Cuts to Higher Education Threaten Economic Growth

by Jon Whiten

Underfunding of Public Colleges & Universities Continues & Would Be Made Worse by Proposed Tax Cuts for the Wealthy

New Jersey students and families continue to have a hard time affording the high cost of a college education, thanks to sharply declining state support for public colleges and universities. As the Garden State has cut higher education funding, the price of attending public colleges continues to rise as family incomes decline, shifting the cost of paying for college onto working-class and middle-class students and families, resulting in higher and higher levels of student debt.

New Jersey’s Deep Cuts to Higher Education Threaten Economic Growth

New Jersey’s Deep Cuts to Higher Education Threaten Economic Growth


New Jersey has cut funding for higher education by 23 percent since 2008 when adjusted for inflation, a decrease of more than $2,250 per student and a deeper cut than the national average, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). This is the 13th largest percentage decline, and 12th largest dollar decline, of the 50 states.

While many states are starting to reverse course and increase funding for higher education, New Jersey is going in the opposite direction. In fact, it is one of just 11 states where per-student funding fell from 2015 to 2016.

“New Jersey’s continued shortchanging of public colleges and universities cuts off a vital rung on the ladder of opportunity for too many families,” said Gordon MacInnes, President of New Jersey Policy Perspective. “Eliminating an additional $550 million from the pot of money that funds higher education to deliver a tax cut to a few thousand wealthy heirs each year fails the ‘tax fairness’ test, and is incredibly short-sighted.”

As a result of these cuts, the average tuition at a public, four-year college in New Jersey has increased by 17 percent, or $1,903, during this period. On top of these tuition increases, colleges and universities across the state have increased student fees, cut staff and faculty positions and offered fewer courses to save money. All this means that a degree takes much longer to attain, adding years of cost and debt.

Together, this means that most New Jersey’s families – already struggling with slow income gains if not reductions – are often paying more for a lower-quality education. These post-recession increases come on the heels of large increases in tuition and fees at New Jersey’s public, four-year colleges in the early 2000s; in its 2006 report Flunking Out, NJPP found that tuition and fees at those schools increased by 47 percent in just the four years from 2000-01 to 2004-05.

Adequate investment in public colleges and universities is essential to building a strong, stable state economy, as it helps create a skilled and diverse workforce and boosts earnings for New Jerseyans of all economic classes.

“This report is the latest confirmation that public higher education in New Jersey is not only becoming less affordable, it is becoming, for many, economically unattainable,” said Susanna Tardi, the Executive Vice-President for Higher Education at the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey. “The biggest driver for this increase in college costs is the reduction in state aid which has shifted the cost of higher education to students and their families through ever higher tuition and fees. Families can simply no longer afford to set aside enough money to pay for their child’s higher education, a fact that has negative consequences for everyone in the state.”

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Rutgers Art Students Need Safe Studios

Please sign petition: Rutgers Art Students Need Safe Studios

Rutgers Art Students Need Safe Studios

Rutgers Art Students Need Safe Studios


Student safety is a priority for all of the Rutgers community. When a curriculum requires hands-on activity with hazardous materials, equipment and techniques, no effort should be spared.

In the sculpture program at Mason Gross School of the Arts graduate and undergraduate students learn and create in many different media. The Livingston Art Building houses the sculpture studios including a complete wood shop, welding shop, foundry and ceramics facilities . OSHA and EPA set the standards for safety in these processes. Sculpture students may be inexperienced in the use of power tools, high-temperature processes like welding, metal casting and firing kilns, safe use of toxic glazes and pigments, use of the correct Personal Protective Equipment.

The union Health and Safety committee has brought to the attention of MGSA and Rutgers Environmental Health & Safety the need to maintain and improve safety and training for our students. This year, important steps were made in training and compliance. All these culminated recently in a positive report by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design— part of a new accreditation which will add to the prestige of the Visual Arts program at Mason Gross.
Now, progress is threatened by the news that the Visual Arts Coordinator –who is responsible for operation of this complex group of studios, as well as training of students, record-keeping for OSHA and EPA compliance, and equipment repair – is being laid off.

The Visual Arts department say they must cut costs by hiring a part-timer to replace the full-time Visual Arts Coordinator and student assistants. It is hard to see how an adequate level of safety can be maintained with reduced resources.

Like science or medicine and even football, sculpture is a discipline with fixed costs. Cutting costs on safety will not produce better results.

We urge Dean George Stauffer and Visual Arts Department Chair Gerry Beegan to restore the full-time Visual Arts coordinator to the Sculpture program.

Sign>>

Teachers protest over lack of contract at charter school in Englewood

Teachers protest over lack of contract at charter school in Englewood

BERNADETTE MARCINIAK/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Led by Janine Ellis, second from left, Englewood on the Palisades Charter School teachers protest outside the school on April 29 because they have been working without a contract since the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

By Daniel Munoz, Staff Writer, Northern Valley Surbanite

ENGLEWOOD – Teachers at Englewood on the Palisades Charter School have been protesting against having to work without a contract, according to union president Janine Ellis.

The previous contract expired at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

“There’s low morale, the pension costs have gone up, the cost of living has gone up,” Ellis said. “It’s been tougher on us financially.”

More>>

Commentary: Obama gets it wrong on Rutgers’ speaker protest

By Charles G. Häberl

President Obama struck a discordant note when he raised the specter of campus “political correctness” and attacked the “fragility” of the student body at Rutgers’ commencement on Sunday.

Like many others attending the commencement, I was inspired and enthralled by Obama’s address to the Class of 2016. However, as a faculty member who was supportive of the principled, student-led opposition to the selection of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as the 2014 commencement speaker, I feel obliged to address some of Obama’s regrettable misperceptions.

The movement opposing Rice as commencement speaker was never about denying her a platform to speak. That would have been an impossible goal. As one of the most powerful women in the history of American politics, Rice enjoys a level of influence and publicity today that few if any of the students opposing her selection will ever attain.

Instead of simply trying to silence a voice they found objectionable, the students opposing Rice’s forum raised relevant issues about the selection process and proposed an alternative debate forum that could have provided for critical engagement.

More>>

Stop Giving Pension Money to Wall Street Hedge Funds

On May 25th, the State Investment Council will vote on how to allocate the pension funds for the next year. Sign the petition now.

Tell the State Investment Council: Public Worker pension funds shouldn’t be a piggy bank for Wall Street financiers. Stop the overuse of high-priced hedge funds now.

Return NJ School Districts to Local Control

Return NJ school districts to local control

Newark students want local control for their schools

Assembly bill 3637 would return much-needed local control to school districts under state control for far too long. We need our state’s elected leadership to work together to restore accountable local control with the process this bill creates. Please sign on to ask your state elected leadership to pass this bill to allow parents and community members to control education within their districts.

Can you join me and write a letter?

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