Solidarity aplenty at Local 1796’s layoff protest rally

Labor leaders and union members from across New Jersey joined students from William Paterson University on Nov. 19 for AFT Local 1796’s layoff protest rally on the Wayne campus in front of the Marion E. Shea Center for Performing Arts.

Here are excerpts from select rally speakers:

“Faculty and staff are not being laid off due to their ineffectiveness or inefficiency but because of inadequate state funding for William Paterson as a minority-serving institution, on top of eight years of poor financial and academic decisions by the previous president and board of trustees, who were unable to increase enrollment and retention and generate alternative revenue sources.” — Dr. Susanna Tardi, president of AFT Local 1796

“I walk around campus, and I barely recognize it anymore. I understand that since COVID-19 happened, things have shifted greatly. But in terms of our education and the jobs of faculty, it should stay the same.” — Joselito Paz Jr., William Paterson University senior majoring in communications/public relations

“What we need is money, and I am going to tell you, we are going to fight for that money in Trenton, New Jersey, when this budget process begins. But we can’t just say it needs to be money to William Paterson. Because William Paterson through the years [has] demonstrated they can’t manage their money. We need transparency because we need to know: Where is all that money that the federal government just gave us? Part of that money was for student support, but part of that money was to make sure that people didn’t lose their jobs.” — Donna M. Chiera, AFTNJ president

“This is a choice that the administration is making. … There are other options. [Laying off] people should not be your first choice. … The choices that this institution is making are wrong.”— Tim Haresign (above), president of the Council of New Jersey State College Locals

“For many years, I was an adjunct professor at Rutgers University. … I understand the consequences these types of cuts, these types of layoffs have in the classroom. It is not a good time for students to understand that [the WP administration is] constantly cutting back on your faculty. … This rally is the beginning, not the end.” — Eric Richard, legislative affairs director for the New Jersey State AFL-CIO