AFT Local #2375 – Representing Full-Time and Adjunct Faculty at Raritan Valley Community College, Somerville NJ
Frankly, it’s been a wild ride in the five years or so since I took over the presidency of AFT Local #2375!
The beginning of my term coincided with the election of a Republican governor who sought to revise NJ collective bargaining law — and with the help of a democratic state congress, succeeded in doing so. Changes in health care benefits became law, as did caps on spending — resulting in more difficult collective bargaining for all New Jersey unions.
So it followed that our experience in negotiating our 2011 contract was a difficult one — and indicative of the types of issues being encountered by public employees across the state. As the governor sought to make public employees and their unions the scapegoats for all the economic ills in our state, public employers faced diminishing budgets and rising political pressure. In step with this trend, our college president and our Board of Trustees entered into collective bargaining with an approach and attitude that RVCC has never seen before.
Yet we prevailed — and not only by reaching a fair contract. We worked hard with teach-ins and rallies. We used the difficulties we faced as opportunities to educate our students, our colleagues and our community on the benefits and value of unionization, as well as the benefits and value of a community college education. We wrote letters to the Governor seeking adequate state higher education funding and letters to the Board of Trustees decrying tuition increases and staff lay-offs. We fought hard and stood firm, and in our united efforts, I know we have made a difference.
Yes, it’s been a wild ride — but in riding along this road with you all, I have been continually amazed at the smart, talented, hard-working and dedicated people who make up AFT Local #2375. It’s been my privilege to work with you and to be your President.
Thank you for all you do.
Maria M. DeFilippis, Esq., President, AFT Local #2375