AFTNJ 2023 Legislative Conference in pictures

Gov. Phil Murphy noted the need for teacher recruitment and retention in New Jersey. Sen. Andrew Zwicker, who sits on the Senate Higher Education Committee, said the state has an obligation to fund higher education. And Sen. Vin Gopal, the chair of the Senate Education Committee, expressed his appreciation for educators and pledged his support.

They were among the many elected officials who spoke May 20 at the AFTNJ 2023 Legislative Conference in East Brunswick.…

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Murphy signs bill expanding access to UI for workers during labor disputes

Gov. Phil Murphy on April 24 signed A4772/S3215, which addresses some loopholes that have affected striking workers and others in labor disputes from receiving access to unemployment insurance benefits.

Taking effect immediately and applying to all UI benefit claims filed on or after Jan. 1, 2022, A4772/S3215 will:

• Permit UI benefits to be distributed to workers during an employer lockout even if a strike did not immediately precede the lockout

• Decrease the timeframe from 30 days to 14 days following a strike that UI benefits are disqualified, while allowing for benefits to be paid immediately regardless of the timeframe if replacement workers are hired on either a permanent or temporary basis

• Clarify that there is no disqualification if an issue in the labor dispute is the failure of the employer to comply with an agreement between the parties

“Workers and their families often struggle financially when they go on strike to protest injustice in the workplace,” said Charlie Wowkanech, president of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO.…

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With labor unrest at NJIT, Chiera talks Rutgers strike’s influence, need for higher ed commissioner

Similar to the faculty unions at Rutgers University, the adjunct professors, graduate students and postdoctoral students at New Jersey Institute of Technology have been working about nine months under an expired contract.

But unlike those Rutgers unions, NJIT instructors don’t appear to be close to anything resembling a framework for a new contract.

“We’ve been trying to negotiate with [the administration], in good faith, and we put out our proposals last October,” NJIT adjunct Scott Kent told NJ Spotlight News in a segment that aired April 19.…

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Rutgers faculty strike suspended; contract framework has ‘profound victories’

Rutgers AAUP-AFT, Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union and AAUP-BHSNJ members have suspended their strike, which began April 10 and affected five days of classes across all Rutgers University campuses.

They were due to resume working April 17, days after their respective union leaders and Rutgers management agreed to a framework for new contracts.

An April 15 message from the three unions noted the securing of “profound victories” in the framework, among them raises for adjuncts, grad workers and postdocs as well as greater faculty control over teaching conditions.…

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Hundreds gather for Take Back Rutgers rally on Newark campus

Like they did at their Dec. 6 rally in New Brunswick for new contracts, Rutgers University unions endured raw weather Feb. 28 for the centerpiece of their Take Back Rutgers actions on the Newark campus.

Following the first of two scheduled indoor discussions about solidarity, an estimated 200 people gathered for an outdoor rally on the steps of the Paul Robeson Campus Center. Eric…

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Local 1940 AFT, Middlesex College students engulf Chambers Hall for informational picket

About 100 Middlesex College full-time faculty, staff and students on May 3 participated in a Local 1940 AFT-led informational picket on the Edison campus in and around Chambers Hall.

The event served to put a spotlight on Local 1940 AFT’s two-year quest for a new contract.

Sign-toting participants walked outside and through Chambers Hall, then gathered in the lobby and on the second floor — where Middlesex College President Mark McCormick’s office is — chanting “Settle now!”…

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Brookdale adjuncts spread the word about their contract struggles

The Brookdale Adjunct Faculty Chapter of AFT Local 2222 gathered April 26 near Brookdale Community College’s Bankier Library to engage with students and ask them to support the school’s adjunct professors in their quest for a first contract.

BAFC Acting President Joan Carroll and Negotiations Chair Jim Schmitt were joined by AFTNJ President Donna M.…

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Local 1940 AFT members have their say at Middlesex County board meeting

On April 21, about 70 members of Middlesex College’s full-time faculty, along with some current students, attended the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners meeting in New Brunswick to support Local 1940 AFT as it continues its efforts for a new contract.

Sheema Majiduddin, a counselor at Middlesex College, was the first in a long line of speakers, and she addressed the overall atmosphere at the school. “The…

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AFTNJ sets legislative conference schedule, opens registration

Registration is underway for the AFTNJ 2022 Conference on April 9.

AFT members and AFT retirees in good standing can register for free here.
(There will be a $15 surcharge per guest to offset food and beverage costs.)

Registration deadline is April 4 at 5 p.m. ET.

The legislative schedule for the event is as follows (schedule subject to change):

7:30-9 a.m.:

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AFT Local 1796 issues response to WP professor’s anti-union rhetoric

A recent online editorial by William Paterson University associate professor Colleen P. Eren — in which she claimed her union contract’s seniority clause that relates to layoffs is “irrational and unjust” — has prompted a detailed response from AFT Local 1796’s executive board.

In her piece “Amid Layoffs, Union Contracts Force Public Colleges to Ignore Merit,” Eren wrote that “last in, first out” (LIFO) policies — like the one she says is “buried” in her local’s contract — “are poised to become an issue of major concern as more colleges declare fiscal difficulties.”…

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New law allows retired N.J. teachers to work through 2022-23 sans TPAF reenrollment

Gov. Phil Murphy on Jan. 18 signed S3685/A5576. The new law permits teachers and professional staff members retired from the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund who provide special services to work during the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years without TPAF reenrollment.

Also on Jan. 18, Murphy signed S4021 and S3764. The former requires school districts to provide instruction on history and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as part of implementation of New Jersey Student Learning Standards in social studies. …

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N.J. Senate, Assembly pass Responsible Collective Negotiations Act

The New Jersey Senate and Assembly on Jan. 10 passed S3810/A5862, officially described as the Responsible Collective Negotiations Act.

The Senate vote was 23-14, while the Assembly vote was 49-27-1.

“This is a big win for our state public unions to develop a system of negotiations without the threat of imposition,” said AFTNJ President Donna M.…

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AFTNJ welcomes staff representative Joe Norris

The AFTNJ on Jan. 4 welcomed its new staff representative, Joe Norris, who fills the void left by the retirement of Joanna McAvoy.

Norris previously worked for New York-headquartered United Healthcare Workers East/1199 SEIU, the largest health care union in the country, for more than 15 years.

“My background at 1199 SEIU has assisted me greatly in my new role as an AFTNJ staff representative,” Norris says.…

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