On behalf of its leadership, AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera on Aug. 24 formally announced the union federation’s endorsement of Gov. Phil Murphy for reelection during a gathering held at City Hall Circle in Perth Amboy.
“Rights for workers, rights for voters, rights for immigrants: That is what Gov. Murphy stood for and stands for,” said Chiera, after pointing out Perth Amboy’s connection to the Bill of Rights and its replica of the Liberty Bell. “Perth Amboy was an industrial hub; we were a working-class family [and] had a lot of industry here. And it always supported its workers and their unions. Gov. Murphy supports the workers and their unions — whether they’re factory workers, whether they’re school teachers, whether they’re higher ed employees. He supports us and has worked for us.”
In his first term as New Jersey’s governor, Chiera said, Murphy supported traditional public schools and higher education, and “he has brought us to the table, the professionals who make the decisions … he has made sure our voices have been heard in Trenton — not only heard, but respected.”
She added, “Even in these difficult times, he has put people over politics … signing legislation to keep us safe and healthy, building a stronger education system and at the same time securing financial stability for individuals and small businesses through this pandemic. And he has done this not so that we can end up where we were pre-pandemic; he has done this so as we come out of this pandemic, we are further ahead. New Jersey will be stronger, fairer and better.”
“I’m incredibly humbled by this, and I’m honored by it,” Murphy said. “Donna, thank you. You’ve been there at every step of the way, and some of the stuff we’ve had to deal with has not been easy, and there’s still unfinished business. … Every step of the way, Donna, I take my hat off to you. Randi Weingarten has been a great ally in the fight — certainly during COVID, but for all the battles that we’ve had to wage before that.”
Murphy continued, “Let’s put labor back up on a pedestal. We are the quintessential organized labor state — especially let’s put educators, professors and their colleagues back up on the pedestal. After all, we entrust either our little kids or our bigger kids, and in some cases and many cases adults, into your hands to mold and craft their education and their future.
“I accept this endorsement with great humility, with deep, deep appreciation, and we have work to do together. And I can’t wait to get out there knocking on doors, doing rallies, sending emails, making phone calls.”