Building a strong political and cultural presence on their campus led to an award-winning contract for the Hudson County Community College Professional Association (HCCCPA) at the 2019 NJEA Jim George Collective Bargaining Summit. The association received the Jim George Collective Bargaining Award at an evening celebration on Oct. 25.

HCCCPA Michael Ferlise penned an article for the November 2019 edition of the NJEA Review titled “Before Negotiations” in which he outlined the “intense organizational work and preparation done by highly committed and disciplined members to revitalize their union as an organization before entering into contract negotiations.” In that article he also credited “the sincere public commitment by our new college president, Dr. Christopher Reber, to address economic equity, shared governance, and issues for improving morale.”

“Through the bargaining process that serves as the foundation of unionism, they engaged their members like never before,” NJEA President Marie Blistan said. “They needed to reach every member and engage them in the work of advancing the rights of their fellow members.”

HCCCPA created new committees, such as a social action committee, a new faculty onboarding committee, an events committee, and a grievance committee. The local held a labor conference on school grounds so that the members would be up-to-date on the current state of labor in the U.S. and in New Jersey. HCCCPA held weekly meetings—even on days off—to research, plan and organize around their approach to bargaining and their presence as a political and cultural entity.

In terms of the contract, HCCCPA negotiated a dramatic increase in base pay in the first year of a five-year contact, receiving retroactive pay for the first two years and solid salary increases in the remaining three years. They increased tuition reimbursement and increases in compensation for online teaching and new course creation. Every tenured instructor was promoted to assistant professor.

“They improved the lives of their members, and they improved the future of the school,” Blistan said. “This happened because the members of the association were engaged. They saw record attendance at their HCCCPA meetings. They signed up new members. They made sure the entire membership had a voice. Through this contract, the students will continue to win.”

19 locals nominated

An impressive number of local associations were nominated for the 2019 NJEA Jim George Collective Bargaining Award. The award is presented annually to an association that has accomplished one or more of the following:

  Bargained one or more new contractual provisions not already found in another affiliate’s contract.

  Conducted an extraordinary community organizing effort that resulted in a contract settlement.

  Used the bargaining experience to propel new members into association involvement and leadership positions

  Achieved a particularly good settlement, in comparison to the state average, in salary increases, health benefits, professional development, and/or member protection.

The nominated locals associations were:

  Atlantic Highlands Education Association

  Black Horse Pike Education Association

  Brooklawn Education Association

  Clementon Education Association

  Collingswood Building Service Employees Association

  Deptford Education Association

  Emerson Education Association

  Ewing Township Education Association

  Haddon Heights Education Association

  Hudson County Community College Professional Association

  Lindenwold Education Association

  Mount Ephraim Education Association

  Mullica Township Education Association

  Education Association of Nutley

  Oakland Education Association

  Education Association of Passaic

  Point Pleasant Beach Education Association

  Somerdale Education Association

  Somerset Hills Education Association

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