Ch. 78 and ESP Job Justice campaign gets final victory

On Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy signed S-2303/A-4140, a pro-collective bargaining law that prevents subcontracting of ESP members’ jobs during the life of negotiated collective bargaining agreements. It also requires notice and negotiation prior to any other subcontracting.

Sens. Troy Singleton (D-Burlington) and Anthony Bucco (R-Morris) were the main sponsors of S-2303, while Assemblymen Roy Freiman (D-Somerset) and Andrew Zwicker (D-Middlesex) and Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex) took the lead in the General Assembly. Dozens of other legislators from both parties co-sponsored the bills, which passed both houses with overwhelming bipartisan majorities.

Gov. Murphy highlighted the value of educational support professionals and reiterated his support for collective bargaining as reasons to sign the law. “For the last several months, we’ve seen more than ever how much we rely on educational support professionals to make sure our schools are safe and students are protected,” said Murphy. “Making sure their contracts are honored is the least we can do to recognize their dedication and their value to our communities. I was proud to sign this law that upholds the principle of collective bargaining.”

NJEA’s officers also lauded the passage of the law. “Educational support professionals are at the heart of every New Jersey public school,” said NJEA President Marie Blistan. “They are trusted members of the community who deserve to know that their commitment to students will be recognized and respected. At a time when their value is greater than ever, this law is more important than ever. We thank Gov. Murphy, the bill’s sponsors, legislative leaders and every legislator who supported this fair and long-overdue law.”

NJEA Vice President Sean M. Spiller also praised the new law. “Collective bargaining is one of the fundamental rights and values for union members because it gives workers a voice,” said Spiller. “This law elevates collective bargaining and helps ensure that the agreements made at the table are honored. It restores balance, helps ensure fairness and allows our dedicated educational support professionals to do their work secure in the knowledge that their contracts will be upheld.”

NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty noted that the law comes at a critical time. “We’ve always known the value of educational support professionals, but their response during this pandemic has helped drive that home to the rest of New Jersey. By helping keep students safe, fed and learning, they have helped keep our schools the best in the nation. They deserve to know their contracts will always be honored and this law helps achieve that.”

The signing of this law follows on the heels of two other key laws that were part of a three-bill Job Justice package that NJEA members organized and worked to pass for over two years. 

On July 1, Gov. Murphy signed a Ch. 78 relief law that will save NJEA members hundreds of millions of dollars every year while preserving platinum-level benefits and lowering costs for employers and the state.  On Aug. 14, he signed another ESP Job Justice law that provides the strongest ESP Due Process rights in the nation.

The signing of these three bills is the result of over two years of NJEA member organizing.  For more on the story of member organizing and action, read all about that campaign in the September issue of the NJEA Review.

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