With New Jersey’s Assembly Higher Education Committee about to vote on A5470 (the Bloomfield College-Montclair State University merger bill), AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera and AFT Local 1904 President Rich Wolfson on June 5 testified in favor of the legislation, which was recently amended to remove anti-labor language.

“This move — bringing Bloomfield and Montclair together — is a statement, and we’re putting students first,” Chiera said at the State House Annex in Trenton. “This merger we wholeheartedly agree with because our students need to have an education.”

She added, “One of the things we need to do as this practice moves forward is to make sure [at every stage] there are conversations with students, there are conversations with staff — and I’m not just talking [about] faculty … We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and move forward to make sure this works.”

Following Chiera, Wolfson said to the committee, “Before you today is legislation that we are totally in support of. … I want to make it perfectly clear that the labor at Montclair State University supports this merger.”

The committee voted unanimously in favor to release A5470, and they did the same with A4164, which establishes a fringe benefit rate for state colleges and universities. Several Rutgers AAUP-AFT members testified prior to the A4164 vote, among them President Rebecca Givan.

“Without a fair fringe rate, we are in serious danger of money not coming into the state of New Jersey … [and] losing our faculty researchers, who can take opportunities elsewhere where that same federal money will go much further and allow them to do more research,” Givan said.

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