Faculty, Students and Community Rally Against Union Busting Law Firm and Call for Fair Contract #DumpJacksonLewis

Rally launches campaign to “Dump Jackson Lewis” and Says Firm Notorious for
Anti-Union Tactics Incompatible with Middlesex County Values

EDISON–For the past 16 years as president of the faculty union at Middlesex
County College, Criminal Justice Professor Patricia Payne and her team have
been bargaining contracts for a full time faculty unit. Since their contract
expired last July, negotiations have been different, according to Payne, as
faculty members are working without a contract and engaged in contentious
negotiations.

“College management is taking a hard line by sending Jackson Lewis to the
table and the bargaining process has suffered as a result,” said Payne. “The
college budget should go towards helping students succeed, but Middlesex
management has diminished the ranks of tenure track faculty to 140 down from
a high of 190 in past years while student enrollments have increased. My
colleagues on the faculty here are concerned about decisions made for
economics that do not consider the academic implications on the college as a
whole.”

Engaging a firm like Jackson Lewis that has a history of adversarial
relations with labor unions across the country is a waste of student and
taxpayer money, according to AFT New Jersey President Donna M. Chiera, a
retired Perth Amboy teacher. “As a Middlesex County resident and educator
from a district that sends many students to the school, I am joining the
call to let Jackson Lewis’ contract expire and the Board of Trustees to
bargain a fair contract directly with the faculty.” The union has launched a
petition campaign at www.aftnj.org calling for the
Trustees to ‘dump’ Jackson Lewis.

The trend towards employing more part time workers and away from full time
employment is troublesome to Charles Wowkanech, President of the New Jersey
AFL-CIO. “I am proud to stand with AFT New Jersey and the Middlesex Faculty
local in standing up for higher education and a fair contract,” said
Wowkanech. “We know that health insurance costs for public workers have
increased dramatically since 2011 legislation. Since that legislation sunset
last year, health insurance is open for discussion and Middlesex County
College management should bargain a fair contract with faculty now.”

Students are joining the call for fairness on campus and want to see more
resources dedicated towards academics. “I wish more students at Middlesex
County College took advantage of opportunities to excel I have had here, but
the school does not offer enough access to the programs, advisors and
professors who have helped me,” said Khalif DuBose, a PreProfessional
Biology major. “How are students, particularly for those who do not have a
lot of time on campus because of work and family obligations, supposed to be
motivated, ambitious, and take the extra steps to better themselves when we
don¹t all have enough access to important student support services?”

Biological Science student Oticia Brisport said, “The faculty and staff here
at Middlesex County College work tirelessly to educate and support their
students. Giving them affordable health insurance and fair working
conditions is not generosity. They have earned it.”

Recently the college closed the Minority Access to the Professional Scholars
(MAPS) program. “Shutting down the program made me feel as if I got stripped
and deprived of an important resource,” said Brandon Rodriguez, a sophomore
from South Amboy who is majoring in Physical Education and intends to study
Physical Therapy. “I feel as if this program helped me succeed and now I
struggle without the resource. I want to know why they shut down this
important program and see resources dedicated to supporting students.”

Alumnus Jonathan Finnerty is a graduating senior at Rutgers and says he
often thinks of the need for schools to retain highly skilled faculty. “As
someone who has been taught by some of the greatest minds around in
Philosophy and Classics, I fully expect MCC to pay fair wages, and to
remember that it is the faculty that retains the students and prepares the
scholars and achievers for the future. If one truly believes in the noble
cause of education, in the welfare of our community, then there is no reason
not to invest fully into the faculty of Middlesex County College.”

Middlesex County Assemblyman Craig Coughlin called on the school to, “Engage
in fair and honest negotiations based on mutual respect. Spending tens, if
not, hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers helps achieve neither,” he
said. “The college should get to work and conclude an agreement. The time is
now.”

Middlesex County Assemblyman John Wisniewski noted that the Middlesex
Freeholders appoint eight of the 12 Middlesex County College trustees and
provide a more than 80% of the schools budget, so they ultimately bare
responsibility for retaining a law firm known for union busting. “Now, more
than ever, as America’s middle class is disappearing, New Jersey’s
leadership needs to support the state’s hard-working men and women in their
struggle for a better wage and a better life. We also need to support the
students who rely on a quality education to be able to compete for a job
that will pay them a middle class wage.”

The Middlesex County College American Federation of Teachers unit represents
more than 140 dedicated professionals who work with students every day in
the classrooms and library, providing direct support through mentoring,
counseling and admissions to keep the university running.

The American Federation of Teachers New Jersey (AFTNJ) represents
approximately 30,000 education workers in prekindergarten through 12 as
well as higher education.