Today, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO stood in solidarity with our AFT brothers and sisters in the Council of New Jersey State College Locals, along with students and community activists for a day of action at the College of New Jersey and at public colleges across the state. More than 10,000 faculty members, staffers and librarians have been working without a contract since July 2015 due to Governor Christie’s defunding of higher education. Our brothers and sisters in the AFT College Council mentor thousands of young men and women in our state, yet they are taking home less due to increased health costs and stagnant pay. We need to invest in our teachers, higher education, and our future.
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As New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech said on the steps of TCNJ’s Green Hall, “With the rising cost of health care, utilities, food, and child care, our brothers and sisters in the AFT need a contract that keeps pace with the cost of living in our state. Is this how New Jersey wants to treat our teachers? Is this how we value our children’s education? This state needs to invest in our teachers and in higher education.”
Over a thousand activists, including faculty and staff, students, and community allies rallied in front of the administrative building at the College of New Jersey alone, while hundreds more marched across the state at Kean University, Montclair State University, Ramapo College, Rowan University, Stockton University, Thomas Edison State University, and William Patterson University. The marches represented a fight for worker’s rights and funding for public education. AFT members at Kean University also used today as a teaching moment for their students, stressing the importance of collective bargaining rights.
Working families understand that the increasing cost of living in New Jersey needs to be matched by an increase in wages. We cannot shortchange our brothers and sisters charged with the critical task of educating the young leaders of tomorrow. We cannot let Governor Christie pass the buck to middle and working class families, who pay more in tuition as a result of cut education funding. It is essential that we stand in solidarity for both fair contracts for New Jersey’s working families and funding for education.