By Celeste Little/The Jersey Journal
Graduate student Fatima Benchouk joins the rally by the American Federation of Teachers Local 1839, students, teachers and staff at New Jersey City University in Jersey City on Wednesday, April 25, 2012. Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal
Several dozen educators and other professionals rallied yesterday at New Jersey City University, calling for a new labor contract and rollbacks in tuition costs.
Rallies are being held at college campuses around the state this week, union officials said.
The protests serve as a rallying cry for increased state funding for higher education and fair labor negotiations on campuses, AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech said.
Steve Young, an official with the American Federation of Teachers, said yesterday at NJCU that professors have been working with an “amended version” of a contract that expired in June.
The current arrangement excludes sabbaticals, career development, mandatory raises, and advancement opportunity for new teachers, he said.
“The lack of funding affects students’ tuition ultimately, and if we don’t get the contract or at least what we had in the past, teachers won’t want to teach in New Jersey,” said Young.
New Jersey ranks 47th in the nation for higher education funding, according to Young.
Over the past three years tuition at NJCU has risen $1,033, union workers said.
Lois Weiner, a professor at the college, said she teaches mostly working-class individuals who can’t afford the tuition hikes.
“My students are now working 40 hours a week to pay tuition and have to be full-time students to get financial aid,” Weiner said. “New Jersey government is giving students the shaft.”