I have had the honor of serving as the president of Local 1796 for the past 21 years. I am grateful for the confidence you have shown in electing me, and for the support you have continually provided. Despite the layoff challenges, our Local has confronted in the past two years, we remain one of the strongest locals in the Council of NJ State College Locals. Our members care about protecting worker rights, but care equally about our students, and the importance of maintaining academic quality in higher education.
William Paterson University is a microcosm of the larger society. On a societal level, we face inflation, an unstable stock market, rising healthcare costs, attack on reproductive rights, inequality, and serious threats to our health due to the COVID variants. At William Paterson, we are confronting numerous challenges including the following: inadequate state funding, a decline in the number of high school students attending college, declining enrollment in an extremely competitive environment, future potential layoffs, a projected 22% increase in healthcare costs, and negotiating a new State contract in 2023.
In the current State Contract, we negotiated meaningful across the board cost of living increases (2%), and the highest increase ever achieved for adjunct faculty. To achieve a Contract that continues to protect worker rights and provides appropriate salary increases, we need membership unity. As the leader of this Local, I commit to continuing to fight for additional state and federal funding, stopping layoffs for at least two years, and doing all that is possible to implement the strategic plan that was developed to apply for federal funding to stabilize our University. Local 1796 played a key role in obtaining $7.5 million in funding for fiscal year 2023 that helped shrink the deficit in the University’s budget. By stabilizing the University, we can request restoration of the many concessions we made to save jobs.
A Union is only as strong as its leadership and most importantly, its membership. I am extremely proud to be the leader of this Local, and to have the honor and pleasure of working with an exemplary team of Executive Board members (Andreopoulos Campanelli, Avdeev, Castro, Eng, Gazzillo Diaz, Finnegan, Joachim, Kendrick, Levine, Matthews, Nemeth, Vicari, and Williams).
I am particularly grateful to all our Union members who work to keep our Local strong. With your continued support, we can maintain the strength of our Local and its strength in the Council of New Jersey State College Locals.