Donna M. Chiera
Donna M. Chiera

Best wishes for happy holidays and a great New Year. These are critical times for public schools and unions so I hope you will join me in resolving to help strengthen our union in 2016. Our 30,000 education workers in the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey range from caring pre-kindergarten teachers though accomplished postdoctoral researchers at colleges and universities and every position in between. I am proud of our work and the difference we make in the lives of all New Jersey students and families.


In 2015, we supported four successful new Assembly representatives through our Committee on Political Education (COPE). Join your local’s efforts by participating in a Labor Walk, joining a Phone Bank or donating a few dollars for upcoming local, state and federal election outreach.

As a national union, we supported the successful reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), bi-partisan legislation that takes the emphasis off testing and helps bring the joy back into teaching.


Our union currently faces a major threat in the Supreme Court with Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which could make it more difficult for working people to bargain fair contracts.

The bargaining climate in New Jersey is not a good one since our economic recovery lags behind neighboring states and the state Public Employee Relations Commission has been weakened by Governor Christie. More than a third of our members are without a current contract, including all our state college and university professors, librarians and professional staff in College Council.

While the courts and the state actions are beyond our immediate control, we can organize and strengthen our locals. If you are not a full member of the union, reply to this message and we will get you a membership application for 2016. If you have colleagues who haven’t joined the union, ask them to do so.


A constitutional amendment to fund the state pension system will be on the state ballot in 2016. This common-sense measure will help move the state towards fiscal stability by addressing the unfunded liability worsened when Governor Christie cut pension payments. Passing this amendment is critical to our state’s economy and fair for teachers, nurses and public workers planning to retire with dignity after long careers.

Get Involved

Join AFTNJ at our convention and legislative conference April 8-9 for educational programs to help you as a professional and build our collective political voice.

If you or a colleague suffered economic damage due to Superstorm Sandy three years ago, complete an application for relief funds. We have many members who are still rebuilding and we want to help.

Join us on social media @aftnj and to stay up-to-date on the latest and extend the discussion of how unions and strong schools help to build the economy and make the state a better place for all of us.

Finally, let me take this opportunity to thank you for all you did in 2015. I know together we can make 2016 a year we can all be proud of. Again, best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

In Solidarity,

Donna M. Chiera


Similar Posts