Union Calls For Fair Contracts For College Workers

STATE – Gov. Chris Christie’s promise to increase support for higher education should include fair contracts for workers, according to Donna M. Chiera, president of the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey (AFTNJ), the state’s largest higher education union federation.

“The full and part-time faculty, librarians and professional staff of the state’s public colleges and universities want working conditions to keep up with those in private schools,” said Chiera. “True support for higher education means investing in both the structural capacity to house and educate students as well as the working conditions to attract, recruit and retain colleagues who will maintain high standards of excellence.”

The Council of New Jersey State College Locals collectively bargains contracts for faculty, librarians, professional staff and adjunct faculty at all nine state colleges and universities. Lead negotiator College Council President Nick Yovnello, the Assistant Director of Library Services at Rowan University, characterizes discussions as the most difficult in his 40 years of bargaining with the state. “While we are making some progress, the state’s proposals threaten to undermine the basics of working conditions we have established over the past several decades.”

College Council members at The College of New Jersey, Kean University, Montclair State University, New Jersey City University, Ramapo College, Richard Stockton College, Rowan University, Thomas Edison State College and William Paterson University are demonstrating Wednesday, April 25 and Thursday, April 26 on their respective campuses.

According to Yovnello, they are gathering with students, community supporters and other unions to call for fairness.

Although negotiations are conducted centrally through the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations, representatives of the college and university presidents participate in the negotiations and are responsible for formulating demands. So the local demonstrations are calls for respect from the local college and university presidents and the governor.

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