At the 2023 NJEA Jim George Collective Bargaining Summit, held on Oct. 20-21, the Robbinsville Education Association (REA) was named the winner of the Jim George Collective Bargaining Award.
The REA’s story, which was covered in detail in the November NJEA Review, was a years-long journey for the association, one which saw them fight privatization, develop their community relationships, strengthen their local association and draw on the support and expertise of NJEA staff and consultants, ultimately leading to a strong four-year contract that keeps them near the top of their county.
To thunderous applause, REA President Jennie Paulino accepted the award on behalf of her negotiating team and the entire association.
The awards ceremony was a highlight of the conference, which brought together more than 220 members from across the state to network, share ideas and learn new skills to help them advocate for themselves and their members. This year’s conference featured lab style workshops that facilitated discussions on a wide range of topics.
Jim George Collective Bargaining Award finalists
The NJEA Jim George Collective Bargaining 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.
This year, after reviewing the 22 nominations, five finalists were selected. They were:
- Edgewater Education Association
- Hoboken Education Association
- Jackson Education Association
- Robbinsville Education Association
- Washington Township Schools Support Services Personnel Association
Who was Jim George?
Jim George was a driving force in NJEA’s quest to secure collective bargaining rights for public school employees. His long relationship with NJEA began when he was a teacher and union leader in Cinnaminson. An activist at heart, he served the Cinnaminson Teachers’ Association as its treasurer and then local president.
At the forefront in the fight for member rights, George is best known for his stirring remarks at the 1967 Asbury Park Rally for Teacher Rights. It was then that George spoke the words that would become the inspiration behind NJEA’s Collective Bargaining Summit: “A new order is at hand. A new generation has been conceived—and we are not afraid.”
George joined the NJEA UniServ staff in 1967 and served members in Burlington County until 1986 when he became a UniServ coordinator serving the southern portion of the state. For 28 years prior to his untimely death in 1995, George inspired NJEA members, leaders, and staff. It was George who first suggested that NJEA hold a collective bargaining summit to invigorate the association’s commitment to bargaining. His legacy lives on through the summit and award that bear his name.