Message from President Susanna Tardi, Ph. D.
In May I began my 12th year as President of AFT Local 1796. I sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence you continue to show by electing me as your leader. We have a strong, united Local because of our leadership team and our dedicated faculty and staff.
We have numerous challenges confronting us in the coming year including shared governance, college affordability, performance based funding, assessment, and lastly, our State contract. We have witnessed two years of 0% increases in salary and two years of minimal increases (1% and 1.75%) accompanied by significant increases in pension contributions and health care costs. We all know that Governor Christie did not live up to his commitment to pay the State portion of the pension contributions. He has openly and repeatedly stated that the economic problems in the State are due to the union “perks” and that what is needed is to repeat the reform he instituted in our current contract. The pension system is broken, not because of union “perks” but due to years of gubernatorial mismanagement of funds. Given the extremely high cost of living in New Jersey, we cannot afford to pay more and earn less.
We need to determine our contract demands for negotiations that will formally begin in 2015, and what we are willing to do to make sure those demands are achieved. You have elected a strong leadership team, but any team is only effective if there is membership unity and active support. I urge you to remain active by keeping informed and participating in Union meetings and activities.