Hundreds of NJEA members filled the street outside of the Board of Education office Monday night in Paterson to support PEA President John McEntee. The rally was planned in response to tenure charges brought against McEntee as a result of his representation of his members. Members chanted, “John McEntee, he’s for me!” and carried signs of support that sent a message: “Hands off our president!” Many members’ signs proclaimed “I am John McEntee.”
PEA Vice President Lakresha Hodge thanked colleagues from every school in Paterson for their support in this fight. Hundreds of NJEA members from across the county and state joined their Paterson colleagues in support of McEntee. NJREA member Bob Blistan spoke in place of NJEA Vice President Marie Blistan, who was unable to attend due to an NJEA PAC Operating Committee meeting at the same time. Passaic County President Joe Cheff and Vice President Sue Butterfield walked with signs of support. Members from Bergen County EA, West Orange, Clifton, and Dover all echoed the same message: We will not be silenced! Barbara Renault, an NJEA member of the Working Conditions Committee from Atlantic County, traveled over two hours to speak in support of McEntee.
Passaic County Freeholder Director and recently retired NJEA member Sandi Lazzara spoke to the crowd and urged everyone to “stick together in this.” Freeholders Bruce James and Assad Akhter also expressed grave concerns about Board attempts to “silence union members.” Belleville EA President Mike Mignon, who faced a similar situation a few years ago, also urged member unity.
President McEntee spoke to members and reassured them that he would never stop advocating for them. The rally closed with McEntee and member Todd Pinkin leading the hundreds of participants in a chant of “Our members united will never be defeated!”
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