Hundreds of Passaic County Education Association (PCEA) members and their families gathered at the Yogi Berra Stadium in Little Falls on June 7 to celebrate their activism throughout the last year. Hosted by the PCEA, the “You Are Worth It” event gave attendees an opportunity to have some fun, socialize with their peers and enjoy a BBQ dinner, as well as learn more about NJEA’s “Fix the Unfairness” initiative.
Volunteers oversaw children’s on-the-field activities, such as running the bases, while others manned tables armed with literature on the ESP job justice and Chapter 78 bills currently being heard in the Legislature. Attendees also had the opportunity to visit over a dozen NJEA Member Benefits partners, who spoke about the discounts and services exclusive to NJEA/PCEA members.
Assemblywoman Linda Carter (LD 22), a high school educator in Passaic City, attended that day, offering her legislative influence and support to her fellow union members. The NJEA ESP Bee made an appearance as well, handing out clever cartooned books on the perils of privatization and taking dozens of selfies with members outlined in frames which said, “ESP Proud”.
Midway through the event, attendees watched videos depicting the work that’s been done on the “Fix the Unfairness” campaign, as well as viewed NJEA’s latest commercials to introduce the public to the issues. As members finished watching, local and county leaders and member activists spoke passionately about the need to keep up the pressure and urged PCEA members to let their voices be heard.
“You’ve been wearing red, sending emails and making phone calls—all in addition to the important work you do in schools every day, said PCEA President Sue Butterfield. “We are here to celebrate your hard work inside the classroom and your advocacy outside the classroom.”
Butterfield’s words were amplified by Nikki Baker, a paraprofessional in Paterson, who urged attendees to continue to stand up for their rights.
“One of our biggest struggles is the effects of Chapter 78, which takes a chunk of our paychecks every year,” stated Baker. “It’s time to fix the unfairness.”
Baker’s words were later echoed by NJEA Vice President Sean M. Spiller, himself a Wayne educator.
“So many people here are making less every single year, because of Chapter 78,” Spiller said. “That is just unacceptable. Now is our moment to stand and say, ‘We are worth it’ and we will not accept anything less than Chapter 78 relief and ESP Job Justice.”
“We are not done fighting,” Butterfield declared. “But we are done losing.”