Donna Chiera
Donna M. Chiera
Donna M. Chiera

On behalf of AFTNJ officers and staff, I want to wish you and your family a joyous holiday season with family and friends and hope for a brighter 2018. Take this time to relax and recharge because the coming year promises to be exciting, but potentially frustrating, time.

Hopefully the tide will turn in New Jersey. We look forward to being a state where public employees and educators will be celebrated for our service to our communities and students rather than being blamed and bullied. This change will take place because you all stepped forward. Because you cared, you voted and we all won an important election.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy and his Democratic team in both houses will have to make many tough decisions because of the poor financial state the Christie administration is leaving behind. While we might not agree with some of those decisions, our voices and opinions will be heard and respected. It may take some time to get there, but at least there is a vision of hope here in the Garden State.

While New Jersey is turning around, we will have many more challenges on the Federal level.  The efforts to privatize education, promote financial practices that hurt working families, attack the rights of immigrants and marginalize the voting rights of minorities will continue to be on the current administration’s agenda with support from Congress.

Our goal for 2018 is to change the power balance in Washington’s around as we did in Trenton in 2017.
The most threatening attack we are facing will be the “Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, (AFSCME) Council 31” case being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. This case stands to diminish the role of the union’s ability to bargain and lobby for the rights of all workers. A negative decision will result in making the United States a “right to work for less” country within the pubic sector. By weakening unions, collective bargaining becomes “collective begging.”

AFT, along with several other AFL-CIO unions, have formed a coalition to put together a strong case the Court will hear starting February 26, 2018. While we can’t lobby the Court, no matter what the decision is, we need to stand in solidarity to keep our unions growing in numbers so our voices are strengthened rather than being silenced.

The road may be bumpy, battles may be lost, and there will be times when we feel we just can’t go on. But we will—we will stand in solidarity, link arms and shout at the top of our lungs: “We’re union, we’re proud and we won’t give up.”

In solidarity,

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