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NJTV News covers RVCC faculty contract rally

Coverage of the Raritan Valley Community College campus meeting and rally for fair contracts comes in 1:10 into “Garden State Express” clip.

Raritan Valley teachers rally for new contract

BRANCHBURG – Negotiations between the administration and the teachers union at Raritan Valley Community College are headed to mediation after talks failed to reach an agreement on a new contract.

The faculty has been working without a contract since July. The previous contract between the teachers and the college was a one-year pact that was approved in January 2015 and was retroactive to July 2014

That contract settlement was reached after a year of negotiations.

The union held a rally Tuesday afternoon on the campus to kick off its campaign for a new contract. The union is also planning to attend the Feb. 16 meeting of the college’s board of trustees.

The union is charging that the college is “in the black” but the faculty’s take-home pay is decreasing because of increasing contributions toward the cost of benefits.


“Raritan Valley Community College is operating in the black but is unwilling to share it with the people who are working here,” said Maria DeFilippis, president of the union who is on leave this semester.

Though Somerset and Hunterdon are among the 10 wealthiest counties in the United States, the salaries at Raritan Valley lag behind neighboring community colleges, she said.

Raritan Valley salaries would have to rise 22 percent to match those at Middlesex County Community College, DeFilipps said.

She also said that the five vice presidents at Raritan Valley, who make a total of $768,000, received higher raises last year than the faculty members.

“That’s contemptible,” she said.

Bick Truett, the union vice president, said the union is asking either for a decrease in benefit contributions or a pay increase in light of the college’s $1.2 million surplus.

“We have seen our take-home pay shrink every year since 2011,” Truett said.

Andrea Vaccaro, an English as a Second Language teacher, said the administration is “dissing” the teachers.

“What are we supposed to tell our students? Settle for less?” she said.

Sociology professor Barbara Seater said the negotiations should be a lesson for students.

“If they’re treating us badly, how are they going to treat you?” Seater said.


Students, professors rally at N.J. college over lack of contract

Dave Hutchinson, NJ Advance Media for

RVCC faculty and students held a rally at the college on Tuesday in support of a new contract for the faculty. (American Federation of Teachers New Jersey)

BRANCHBURG — Negotiations for a new contract between professors at Raritan Valley Community College and school representatives have reached an impasse over healthcare costs and talks are entering mediation, according to a news release from the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey.

More than 100 faculty members and students staged a rally Tuesday afternoon at the college. They also plan to attend a Feb. 16 board of trustees meeting to voice their displeasure with negotiations, according to the release.

Full-time and adjunct faculty have been working without a contract since July, said acting union president Bick Treut, a communication studies professor.

“We’re hurting,” said Treut. “And, we’re sad. This is a fantastic institution. We launch our students into bright futures. We are educated, dedicated, and effective. We deserve a fair contract. We have seen our take home pay shrink every year since 2011.”


Students, Teachers Rally for Contract at RVCC

More than 100 faculty members and students rallied today at Raritan Valley Community College calling for a contract

By Alexis Tarrazi (Patch Staff)

Students, Teachers Rally for Contract at RVCC
Branchburg, NJ — More than 100 faculty members and students rallied today at Raritan Valley Community College calling for a contract.

Photos by Nat T. Bender: Faculty members and students of RVCC rally today for a contract for professors.

Photos by Nat T. Bender: Faculty members and students of RVCC rally today for a contract for professors.

Teachers at RVCC have been working without a contract since July 2015, according to acting union president Bick Treut, a communication studies professor.

“We’re hurting,” said Treut. “And, we’re sad. This is a fantastic institution. We launch our students into bright futures. We are educated, dedicated, and effective. We deserve a fair contract.”

The teachers are asking for a decrease in insurance costs and increase in pay. Talks broke down between the faculty and school representatives over health care costs.The two parties are now headed to mediation.

The college’s Board of Trustees will host its next meeting on Feb. 16 where faculty and students promised to attend.


Media Advisory: Raritan Valley Community College Faculty Rally for Fair Contract

Contact: Nat T. Bender, 908-377-0393

Faculty members at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) are rallying to call for a fair contact as talks enter mediation. Faculty members hosting a mass meeting on campus point to a budget surplus at the school. Meanwhile increased health insurance costs means workers have earned less take home pay for the past five years. A fair contract will help recruit and retain qualified faculty and maintain high standards at the well-regarded community college.

Bick Treut, communications professor
Carl Lindskoog, history professor

Tuesday February 9

1:10-2:00 PM

The Atrium Lounge (bottom floor, near the book store)
Raritan Valley Community College 118 Lamington Rd., Branchburg, NJ 08876

Equal Pay Can’t Wait: Senate Labor Committee advances bill

The Senate Labor Committee voted 3-0-1 to move out of committee legislation concerning equal pay for women and helping…

Posted by AFT New Jersey on Thursday, February 4, 2016

Chiera Testimony: Equal Pay Can’t Wait

For the Senate Labor Committee:

Donna M. Chiera testifies at Senate Labor Committee

Donna M. Chiera testifies at Senate Labor Committee

When I started teaching more than three decades ago the profession was low-paid and comprised of a mostly female workforce. We suffered with low salaries for decades. Collectively bargained salary guides accounting for both experience and education have gone a long way towards addressing pay inequality within the ranks of professional educators in the schools, but it is still not enough.

Please see the New Jersey Women and the Wage Gap fact sheet, which shows:

  • Women in New Jersey are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men,
  • The data show that this gender wage gap is present across industry, occupation and even education level,
  • More than 441,000 family households in New Jersey are headed by women and approximately a quarter of these households live below the poverty level.

Being one of four sisters who were all teachers and nurses—traditionally thought of as “women’s work” —we all knew we would never be rich and famous, but we all found great satisfaction in helping others. I remember clearly the bad old days when men in the district would be moved into athletics coaching and extracurricular activities that offer stipends and more likely to be hired into district administration with higher salaries with the explicit explanation of: “They have a family to support.”

We know by the numbers that this justification is false and used only to prop up an unjust system that rewards men doing the same work with something like a 25% premium. They earn that extra money by simply not being female—a feat they accomplished with very little effort. It did not require education, study or practice on their parts. They were simple born into it. We see clearly that the data show the wrongheadedness expressed by: “They have a family to support” bonuses for men with no corresponding consideration for women who are often single providers for households with dependent children.

We need to be armed with information to fight against this unfairness and this is one thing this legislation will provide. Further, we need to remove the time barriers to justice and this legislation addresses that. The gender wage gap is not new—neither is it getting significantly better and we need to address it now. We also need to keep an eye out for women—like Lilly Ledbetter—who suffered from wage discrimination for decades and correct these longstanding injustices on an individual as well as collective basis.  Lilly Ledbetter found out she was being paid less than her male counterparts for nearly two decades when she was a supervisor at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant. And then she made the decision to fight back.

This legislation would help Lilly Ledbetter’s in New Jersey who have been discriminated against for longer than we want to think about. We need to pass this legislation and it deserves bi-partisan support and a signature from the Governor.

My sisters and I might have earned more if we were brothers instead of sisters, but this legislation is about our daughters, our nieces and our granddaughters—the next generations of Lilly Ledbetters who want to make a significant contribution to our society. They deserve the consideration that they may be equally responsible (sometimes more so) for “taking care of their families” as their male counterparts if they so choose.  Whether taking care of families or making their own way in the world, they deserve the dignity and respect of fair wages and this legislation could be another tool to help them along the way.

Perth Amboy Teacher Lemongelli Selected for State Leadership Board

“Wouldn’t it be great to have classroom teachers across the state talking collaboratively about how to improve the culture and learning climate in their schools?” asks Perth Amboy High School language arts teacher Stacy Lemongelli. Now the National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) is a step closer to that aspirational goal with her selection to a teacher leadership advisory board, newly created by state legislation.

Perth Amboy Teachers National Board Certified Teacher recognition

(Left to right): AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera with current Perth Amboy teachers Lynne Audet, Elizabeth Mazzeo, Cecilia Crespo, Rebecca McLelland-Crawley, and Stacy Lemongelli at National Board Certified Teacher certification and renewal recognition event

Lemongelli has been mentoring other teachers for more than 20 years—helping them be more aware of what works by modeling effective practices. She is continuously engaged in training focused on self-reflection to review what is working with her students and looking for new and innovative ways to share lessons with kids and colleagues alike, according to Perth Amboy Federation-American Federation of Teachers president Pat Paradiso, who nominated Lemongelli for the board.

The 11-member board will make recommendations for training needed to earn a state “teacher leader” endorsement created by New Jersey legislation last year. The designation is intended for teachers who will formally play an educational leadership role within their schools without leaving the classroom to become part of school administration.

The training program will require a minimum of 12 graduate credits or 180 hours of study. Lemongelli said she and the rest of the advisory board—five teachers and six administrators—are discussing the requirement to be eligible to receive the endorsement. “We want to make sure the program will be aligned with teacher leader model standards,” she said.

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, D-Essex, a bill sponsor, is quoted as saying, “We must encourage and support our most dedicated, innovative educators to expand their roles and become professional leaders in their field. Fellow educators, schools and students will benefit greatly from their expertise.”

AFTNJ president Donna M. Chiera said that state Department of Education thanked her for the quality of the teachers AFT nominated to the board. Lemongelli was selected from the group of other AFT teachers based on her excellent record Chiera said. Lemongelli originally achieved rigorous national board certification in 2004 then recertified in 2014. She participated in a teacher leadership program within the district then attended the AFT summer institute last year learning more about differentiated instruction, text selection and making sure special education and English language learner curriculum is consistent with the common core.

“I believe in my heart in professional development and that teachers should be trusted and empowered to contribute to our profession,” said Lemongelli. “My goal on the advisory board is to maintain the integrity of the endorsement so it will be effective.”

The board is charged with issuing recommendations this year.

Op-Ed: Time To Shed Some Light On Corporate-Backed Charters

By John M. Abeigon

Financial openness is just the beginning. Corporate-sponsored charter schools need to authenticate their undocumented successes

John M. Abeigon

John M. Abeigon is president and director of organization for the Newark Teachers Union, Local 481, AFT, AFL-CIO.

The time has come for New Jersey taxpayers to take a close look at corporate-sponsored charter schools in New Jersey. So-called school-choice advocates are pumping millions of dollars into political and advertising campaigns to protect the status quo when it involves the quasi-secret operations of privately managed charter schools in cities like Newark and elsewhere. The strike a wedge between Newark’s parents to draw the attention of taxpayers away from their financial shenanigans.

First of all, it is vital to recognize the difference between a community charter school and a corporate charter school. The Newark Teachers Union has asked for more transparency in the management of corporate-backed charter schools. The Newark Public Schools have two monthly meetings where the school board and superintendent can be held accountable for the actions of their school. When was the last time the citizens of Newark were invited to a KIPP board meeting? What about Uncommon Schools?

Also, as these charters have grown, banks and corporations have developed ways, and found alternative credit routes, to provide capital to charter schools at favorable rates. What are these rates? And what are they funding? Have taxpayers and state legislators had an opportunity to review these credit applications?

Why are Newark’s corporate-run charters so afraid of transparency and democracy? Are Newark taxpayers allowed to run for election on a North Star Academy school board? Where are their financial statements? Where are their attendance reports? How are they spending taxpayer money? And why must the union be asking these questions?



Why Rutgers professors dislike system that tracks their work

By Adam Clark, NJ Advance Media for

NEW BRUNSWICK — Productivity has always been an important aspect of any college professors’ performance.

How many books they write, how often they are cited in articles, how much grant money they win — it’s all part of the discussion about what makes a good college professor, said David Hughes, president of Rutgers’ faculty union.

But when Rutgers’ New Brunswick campus began paying a company to track those statistics and generate productivity scores for each professor, Hughes said he thinks the university took its emphasis on data a step too far.

Rutgers in 2013 inked a four-year, $492,500 contact with Academic Analytics, a private company that tracks the research and publication productivity of thousands of college professors across the country.

The university says the data is a valuable tool. But the use of performance analytics has put Rutgers at odds with professors, who insist the company’s reports are inaccurate and who worry a focus on productivity data will hurt the quality of teaching on campus.

“The database doesn’t tell you anything about teaching and service,” Hughes said. “Anybody who thinks of themselves as a teacher, anybody who is a student or a parent of a student at Rutgers ought to feel insulted by the application, in any way, of this absurdly truncated set of measures.”



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