The AFTNJ on June 1 welcomed its new staff representative, Jennie Shanker, who takes over for Joe Norris.
Organized labor and education have been constants in her life. She is the daughter of the late Albert Shanker, who was AFT president for more than two decades. In her 20-plus years of teaching, Jennie Shanker held various positions at several higher education institutions, among them adjunct associate professor at University of the Arts, Moore College of Art & Design, and Tyler School of Art & Architecture, all in Philadelphia. She also served as an interim chair of the MFA in Fine Arts at the University of the Arts and in Tyler’s Foundation Program.
Since 2013, her labor organizing roles have included serving as an organizer for the United Academics of Philadelphia as well as many positions for AFT Local 4531 (Temple Association of University Professionals).
“In my roles at TAUP, I’ve worked to protect and advance the rights of members through organizing, contract enforcement, mediation and contract negotiations,” she explains. “There was also important internal work that was needed to build the union and change a culture that had not represented adjunct faculty in the past.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Shanker moved to New Jersey and took courses in the Rutgers LEARN program. “When I saw the posting for the staff rep job at AFTNJ,” she says, “I felt that it would be a challenging new context to work in, serving workers in a wide range of educational institutions in my new home state.”
Shanker adds, “I’m eager to get started, supporting locals in defending and building on current contracts and increasing the dignity, rights and power of members in their workplace.”