Friday, July 22, 2016

Dear @NJEA Members, This is Urgent!

Hey you. Yea, you, NJEA member. The one working those part time jobs to make it through the summer. The one who is fortunate enough to not have to work in the summer to make ends meet. The one dipping into your retirement funds to make it through the summer. The one who has no time to advocate because you're just trying to keep your head above water. I'm talking to you

You need to stop what you're doing right now and read this.

See that counter on the right side of this screen? That's counting down to D-Day: the day the NJ pension system runs dry. That's right, I said, 'dry' as in running out of money. That's 10.45 years. For everyone. E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E. Doesn't matter if you're a first year teacher or a 20 year retiree. There is no grandfather clause, no sliding scale. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Say buh-bye to your future and hello to working til you drop.

If you don't know by now, the pension system has been grossly underfunded by the state for the past 20 years, even though we have been making our regularly scheduled payments (and then-some, thanks to Gov. Christie and Ch.78), and are now forced to work more years and get less in return. Our retired members are feeling the hit too because their cost of living adjustments have been frozen.

This situation is dire and it's not going to get any better if we sit back and do nothing.

It's that bad.

But that's not going to happen because we are a union, and unions work together. We stick together. We fight together. And we win together... and we are going to win this battle.

Right now approximately 300 specifically-designated NJEA Pension Fellows (myself included) are working hard to engage all 200,000 of us in the fight to save our pensions. 

Notice I didn't say, "engage the state legislature". I said, "engage all 200,000 of us". That's right, 300 of your fellow members cannot fix this problem alone, but 200,000 of us sure can.

We are working 5 days a week making member outreach phone calls and knocking on members' doors to inform and engage every single one of us to take action. In the first two days alone we made over 3800 phone calls and wrote countless postcards!

Right now the Assembly has approved the November ballot question to engrave funding the pension system into our state constitution. The Senate must also do so, but Senate President Steve Sweeney has yet to post the bill for a vote. If the vote doesn't happen by August 8, or if the vote fails in the Senate, there will be no ballot question, and we go back to square one... with that clock still ticking down to zero.

So, here are six easy things you can do right now:
  1. Go do VoteNJPension and sign up to become a Pension Activist. This is different from the Pension 'Fellows'. An activist is a voluntary position. You will receive text messages with updates and actions such as contacting legislators, and engaging friends and family to vote.
  2. Contact your State Senator—preferably today—and urge him or her to push Sen. Sweeney to post SCR-2 for a vote, and tell them you want them to vote Yes on it.
  3. Contact Sen. Sweeney directly and tell him to post SCR-2. His contact info: (856) 251-9801 or (856) 339-0808; Don't worry, you won't get him on the phone. You will either get an answering machine or an aide who will take your information.
  4. Get informed. Read through What You Need To Know so that you can give factual information to those who may have questions or who think the pension system isn't worth saving.
  5. Contact one of the field offices we have set up for the summer and volunteer. Even if none of these are near you, there are many opportunities to volunteer your time in your community:

    NJEA Trenton Headquarters
    180 W. State St.

    NJEA Higher Education Office
    Golden Crest Corporate Center
    2279 State Highway 33, Suite 508
    Hamilton Square

    NJEA Region 11/12 Office
    Raritan Plaza II
    91 Fieldcrest Ave, Suite A3

    Gloucester Co. Education Association
    190 N. Evergreen Ave, Suite 108

    NJEA Stanhope Office
    23 Route 206

    NJEA Region 3 Office
    1020 Laurel Oak Rd.
  6. Make sure every member of your family who is able to do so is registered to vote. This website lets you do it online.
Friends, there really is no other way to say this. We can't sugar coat it or push it off on someone else. We need every single one of us taking action. Can you imagine Sen. Sweeney's office receiving 200,000 phone calls? He can't say No to that.

So please, make a commitment today to do your part. We all have worked too hard to simply let our pensions dissolve into thin air. And I think it's pretty safe to say that there aren't too many of us who can survive retirement without them. I know I can't.

Let's do this!

#TeamTrenton rocking the vote!

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