AFTNJ higher education leaders virtually met June 18 with New Jersey’s Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, with chief of staff Sandra Gilot West standing in for Secretary Dr. Brian Bridges.

Dr. Susanna Tardi, AFTNJ’s executive vice president/higher education and a William Paterson University professor, asked most of the questions. Among them was, “At some colleges and universities, fiscal transparency is sorely lacking. How can you help to assure that colleges and universities provide all unions total transparency regarding budgets?”

“I know with former Secretary [Dr. Zakiya] Smith Ellis, there’s been work that has been happening making sure that we have clear transparency in regards to cost for students,” answered Gilot West. “So this is something that I will be bringing to Secretary Bridges’ attention and will get back to you.”

Dr. Tardi followed with, “What do you think about unions seeking legislation to establish a priority-hiring bill so that faculty and staff at higher education who are victims of layoffs would be given priority hiring in any state higher education institution, including Rutgers?” The existence of a resulting layoff registry, Dr. Tardi added, would still mean that those who appear on it would have to meet job-description requirements in order to be hired.

“In my discussions with the secretary, he believes in unions,” Gilot West said. “Unions are a powerful voice for faculty and staff in making sure their voices are at the table … I will say personally I like this registry idea. I will bring that back to him.”

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