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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 »

Protecting Higher Education for Lower- and Middle-Class Students, Families

By Tara Nurin
Assembly committee crafts package of bills to freeze tuition, boost graduation rates at state’s public colleges and universities

These are difficult times for students at New Jersey’s public college and universities — and for their families. Tuition has climbed steadily, forcing lower- and middle-class kids to borrow more and more money.

At the same time, fewer and fewer students are graduating in four years; many take six to finish their studies, which often means they’re on the hook for more loans. And some students don’t graduate at all. They’re left with a mountain of debt and no realistic way to pay it off.

Characterizing the situation as “staggering” and “out of control,” the Assembly Higher Education Committee began work yesterday on a package of 20 reform bills intended to lower education costs and increase the graduation rate. Thus far, they have passed the first four bills to come before them. Two other committees passed legislation to incentivize internships and regulate university police departments.

The most significant and controversial bill passed by the higher education committee would freeze in-state undergraduate tuition and fees at public colleges and universities for the first four and a half years of a student’s enrollment. Committee members released three bills. One would establish a longitudinal collection and retention system to stockpile academic data about all New Jersey students from pre-school until they enter workforce. Another would require colleges and universities to allow high-school students to earn credits at a lower cost than traditional students. A third bill would let students transfer credits from four-year to two-year colleges.

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Bill to freeze tuition for N.J. college students advances

By Matt Friedman | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

TRENTON — Imagine this: Completing four years of college without seeing your tuition increase even once.

A bill that has begun advancing in the New Jersey Legislature would make that a reality.

The state Assembly Higher Education Committee today voted 6-0 with 2 abstentions to approve the bill (A2807), which would prohibit most four-year colleges and universities — public and private — from raising the tuition of undergraduate students who are from New Jersey for nine continuous semesters after they enroll.

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Open Letter to Rutgers University Senators

We write to you as the leaders of unions representing some 20,000 Rutgers employees. Like you, we have been elected by our constituents to represent their interests and needs. Like you, we have a mutual interest in making Rutgers an outstanding university for all our constituents.

At this time, we want to bring your attention to the state of labor relations at the University. As a result of the Rutgers-UMDNJ merger, some 31 bargaining units now exist within Rutgers. Of those, 28 are now negotiating new collective bargaining agreements. Unique conditions have resulted from the merger, and from Rutgers 2009-2011 “salary freeze” on unionized staff and faculty:

  • RBHS faculty in the legacy UMDNJ units and over 1,000 house staff physicians now employed by Rutgers have worked without a contract, and without a raise for over 5 years.
  • Legacy Rutgers faculty and staff are now paid at the levels which were originally negotiated for 2011. Those groups have yet to make up for the loss of pay from the “salary freeze”.
  • The increases to employee contributions to health insurance and pensions under the 2010 legislation have resulted in net loss of earnings as compared to 2008. We are taking home less than we did in 2008.

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Video: Eric LeGrand Supports Fair Contracts for Rutgers Faculty and Staff

Ahead of Barchi State Of Rutgers Speech,“Reclaim Rutgers” Releases Video & Holds Rally

(New Brunswick, NJ) – Today, on the eve of President Robert Barchi’s State of the University address, former Scarlet Knights football player and Rutgers alumnus Eric LeGrand released a video in support of Reclaim Rutgers – a dynamic coalition representing unionized workers in tough contract negotiations with management. Tomorrow, immediately before Barchi speaks, faculty, staff, students, alumni and other allies will hold a rally at 12:30 p.m. echoing LeGrand’s call for fair contracts.

You can view the LeGrand video at http://youtu.be/LcAel-IQfS8

“Just like in football, where everyone has a role to play, Rutgers succeeds because of its tremendous team of top-notch faculty and staff,” said Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed playing football for the university and credits faculty and staff with helping him graduate. ”I hope the University will do the right thing and get these hard-working men and women the fair pay and decent benefits they deserve and have earned.”

In the 30-second clip, LeGrand details how – through video calls, emails and phone calls – Rutgers workers assisted him in getting ahead in life. LeGrand often speaks about how he learned an enormous amount from his professors – many of whom went beyond the call of duty to help him succeed after he was severely injured and unable to attend classes.

Unions representing more than 20,000 workers are currently in contract talks with the university. Reclaim Rutgers and its allies are calling on Barchi and Rutgers to:

*Tackle student debt – by making tuition more affordable
*Respect faculty and staff – by bargaining in good faith for fair contracts immediately
*Restore public funding – by working with students, faculty, staff and the community to demand increased advocacy from management for more funding
*Focus on fundamentals. Teaching, research, service and patient care are all core parts of Rutgers mission. The university should stop diverting precious dollars from this core mission to subsidize athletics

“The very same week Rutgers guaranteed the football coach a $3.4 million raise, management offered faculty what amounts to a pay cut, while refusing to pay for library fees that amount to less than one-third the coach’s raise,” said Deepa Kumar, Associate Professor, Journalism and Media Studies. “This is a gross example of management’s skewed priorities.”

“Our members lost millions of dollars in pay from Rutgers ‘salary freezes’ between 2009 and now,” said Darlene Smith, Exec VP Union of Rutgers Administrators-AFT staff union. “On top of that, we’re paying thousands more each year to our health insurance and pension plans. As a result, we’re taking home less in our paychecks than we did in 2008. As a Rutgers alumna and long-time dedicated worker, I’m extremely disappointed with the hard-line that university management is taking in contract negotiations. We are taking action to reclaim Rutgers from management’s misplaced priorities.”

“As a result of the UMDNJ merger, Rutgers University’s mission now includes healthcare and depends on those professionals who provide cutting-edge research, community services and quality care to our communities,” said Bernie Gerard, VP of Health Professionals & Allied Employees (HPAE). “If Dr. Barchi wants Rutgers to be a premier healthcare university, he must provide the same support, resources and commitment to such care that he does to Big Ten Football. That means listening to the voices of the healthcare experts in our current contract negotiations and working conditions that will enable Rutgers to recruit and retain the best staff.”

Tomorrow at 12:30 pm – immediately before President Barchi’s Address to the University Senate – a large group of Rutgers faculty, staff, students, alumni and allies will join together at the College Avenue Student Center in New Brunswick. They will be speaking out in support of fair contracts. While Barchi talks about how the State of the University is strong, Reclaim Rutgers will make sure he’s reminded it is the faculty and staff who make Rutgers the top-notch institution that New Jersey deserves. Barchi and the Board of Governors should respect these workers and come to the bargaining table in good faith.

You can sign the Reclaim Rutgers petition at www.ReclaimRutgers.org. Additionally, you can follow @ReclaimRutgers on twitter, and like it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/reclaimrutgers. And, again, you can view the Eric LeGrand video at http://youtu.be/LcAel-IQfS8

Former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand supporting union in video

By Patricia Alex, Staff Writer, The Record.

Former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand – paralyzed in a 2010 tackle during a game – is appearing in a video released on Thursday in support of unionized workers who are bargaining for new contracts with the university.

Paralyzed former Rutger's football player Eric LeGrand.

Paralyzed former Rutger's football player Eric LeGrand.


”I hope the university will do the right thing and get these hard-working men and women the fair pay and decent benefits they deserve and have earned,” LeGrand said in the 30-second clip on YouTube.

LeGrand has been an ambassador for the university since his injury, making numerous public appearances. He credited the dedicated faculty and staff for helping him graduate after the devastating injury prevented him from attending classes.

Watch the video here.

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Eric LeGrand Supports Rutgers Faculty and Staff

4 Key Questions Experts Are Asking About Obama’s College-Ratings Plan

By Max Lewontin, Washington

President Obama’s proposed federal college-ratings system is set to be released in time for the 2015 academic year, but if the comments from administrators and researchers at a hearing on Friday are anything to go by, the plan appears to be far from complete.

The ratings system will examine colleges based on measures of access for low-income and first-generation students, on affordability, and on student outcomes. It remains controversial because the ratings could eventually be tied to colleges’ access to federal aid.

At the public-comment hearing—held by the federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, which will release a report to Congress on the ratings system at the end of the month—participants repeatedly raised a number of concerns about the plan.

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Big Ten: Why is Rutgers behind in the fundraising game?

By Kelly Heyboer and Ted Sherman

NEW BRUNSWICK — In the quest to raise money for Rutgers University, senior Keith Culbreth has been on the front lines.

During the spring semester, the student manned cubicle No. 27 in the Rutgers Telefund call center in New Brunswick. He spent his evenings phoning graduating seniors, alumni and parents to ask them to make a contribution to the state’s largest university.

Following a carefully-worded script, Culbreth began his pitch optimistically high: “Would you be willing to make a senior gift of $200?” he asked one graduating accounting major from Manalapan. His question was met with a moment of silence, then annoyance, before the caller abruptly hung up.

Rutgers, one of the oldest and largest universities in the nation, has long had problems raising money. At the end of the last fiscal year, the school’s endowment stood at $783 million— ranking far below most universities its size, according to an annual study of college finances.

And as its sports teams begin playing in the Big Ten athletic conference this month alongside Penn State, Ohio State, the University of Michigan and other NCAA Division 1 powerhouses, Rutgers’ modest bank account stands in sharp contrast to other members of the elite club it has joined. Among the 14 schools in the Big Ten, Rutgers’ endowment ranked dead last at the end of last year. Top-ranked University of Michigan had an $8.4 billion endowment — more than 10 times larger than Rutgers’ endowment.

University officials say they are turning around the school’s fundraising efforts — bringing in a university-record $148 million in donations over the last 12 months for the fiscal year that ended in June. But they acknowledge the pressure is on to significantly step up fundraising, in part to offer scholarships and build new facilities to help its football and other athletic teams compete in the larger, wealthier Big Ten conference.

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At this historic moment for Rutgers, remember the workers: Opinion

By Eric LeGrand

Rutgers’ entry into the Big Ten is a thrilling milestone for me — both as an alum and as a Scarlet Knights football player. But I want to call attention to something that’s getting a bit less play these days: the thousands of women and men who every day make Rutgers University a great place to learn, play and grow.

Eric LeGrand was a commencement speaker during 2014 graduation ceremonies at Rutgers University (John O'Boyle/Star-Ledger)

Eric LeGrand was a commencement speaker during 2014 graduation ceremonies at Rutgers University (John O'Boyle/Star-Ledger)


Right now, most of Rutgers’ team of faculty and staff who are members of unions are engaged in contract negotiations with the university. They are asking for something that students, athletes and fans can strongly support. They simply want fairness and respect. And they wish to be recognized for their essential role in making our university the top-notch institution we all value and cherish.

I earned my degree from the excellent School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers while I played football. And while it was an honor to represent the university on the field, the nurturing and guidance I received in the classroom and from the teachers and staff was more important. I learned an enormous amount from my professors, many of whom went beyond the call of duty to help me succeed after I was severely injured and unable to attend classes.

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