“NJ area news hyper-focused on the topic of the efforts in solidarity with the people of Palestine” is how editor of the new site Bob Witanek describes his newly rebranded http://FightBackBetter.com. The news is certainly of the advocacy bend – unlike most standard journalism that attempts to maintain a semblance of impartiality. According to Bob Witanek, “The assumption is that our readers are on this site to find out what they can do to take effective action against the US-supported genocide targeting the Palestinian people in Gaza. ”The site is structured to present the dozens of activities and organizational efforts occurring around NJ each and every week with the details and the contact information, to show what the editor believes is repression against some sectors of opposition to the what he considers “genocide’.
Hello everyone. I need to remain anonymous because of the threats I’ve been receiving, so sadly I cannot say my name, but I’m a senior at West Orange High School and was part of the walkout that occurred on Wednesday, November 22. Basically, I just want to speak on the struggle I faced when planning this walkout. Originally we had it planned for Monday, October 30 after our town’s recent board meeting where board member Robert Ivker went on a tangent on the October 7 attack where he called all Palestinians evil, rapists, and baby killers, which triggered our initial interest in creating the walkout because this town only speaks and supports one side.
Registered nurses at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, have taken action against corporate greed and exploitation as well as union-busting tactics. Their strike is into its third month. The 1,700 nurses, represented by United Steelworkers Local 4-200, are demanding safe staffing. Research has proven that adequate nurse to patient ratios save lives. The pandemic was the match that lit the fire around safe staffing. Nurses were pushed to the brink and were no longer willing to put their patients’ lives and their own well-being and professional licenses at risk. Since the strike, RWJU bosses have shown that they undervalue their nurses by suspending health benefits and limiting picket lines at hospital entrances.
There ought to be nine nurses on the day shift at 9 Tower, a trauma surgery unit inside the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Instead, some days there are just three. “Sometimes I’d look at a patient’s face and know that I won’t be able to maybe help feed them when they need to be fed,” said nurse Sophia Moccio, “or clean them when they need to be cleaned. It is distressing, and depressing for us.” Staffing levels this bad are a major reason why she and 1,700 of her co-workers at RWJUH have been on strike since August 4. Nurses in her 34-bed unit often have to manage the care of six patients apiece—and sometimes seven or eight.
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) members who work at New Jersey Transit last week voted unanimously to authorize a strike. Five hundred locomotive engineers employed by NJ Transit received strike ballots in August. Voting results show 81% of the eligible 494 union members cast ballots and all of them favor a strike, BLET officials said in a press release. NJ Transit recently announced plans to spend more than $440 million to lease luxury office space, which has infuriated many BLET members, they said. “The agency has millions for penthouse views, but not a dime for train crews who kept the trains running throughout the worst days of the pandemic, and haven’t had a raise since 2019," said BLET National President Eddie Hall.
Immigrant rights activists in New Jersey are facing a challenge. August 31 was supposed to be the day that the state’s last remaining Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center finally closed. Instead, CoreCivic — the private prison company that runs the center — sued to keep the center open, and President Biden publicly came out on CoreCivic’s side. On August 29, two days before CoreCivic’s contract was set to expire, a federal judge ruled to keep the center open. The immigrant rights movement has not taken this development passively. Leading up to the ruling, various organizations and activists in the state mobilized to defend our immigrant neighbors and our right to ban ICE detention centers.
I am one of 1,700 nurses on strike at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey. We are members of United Steel Workers Local 4-200. The hospital administration has used intimidation, scare tactics, and lies to convince the public that patient care is at the top of their priority list and at the bottom of ours. We have had enough. We are on day 20 of our strike, and nurses are beginning to feel the pressure. Our health insurance ends at the end of this month, and the financial strains of supporting our families on unemployment are growing. We are standing outside of the hospital day and night to show our dedication to achieving a fair contract that benefits us and, most importantly, our patients.
New Brunswick, New Jersey - Nurses at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick were on strike for a fourth day Monday. Staffing levels are a sticking point between the United Steelworkers Local 4-200 and the hospital. After contract talks stalled, more than 1,700 nurses walked off the job Friday. But passion on the picket line is not waning. "Clearly, we're all united for a common purpose here," said Jennifer Kwock. Kwock, who works in the neonatal ICU, said depleted staffing levels create dangerous conditions for patients and cause nurses burnout.
New Brunswick, New Jersey - Judy Danella, president of United Steel Workers Local 4-200 — the union that represents Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital’s more than 1,700 nurses — stands in a church basement before a room full of her union members. Her voice quavers slightly as she delivers grim news. The hospital management, whose top administrators earn salaries in the millions of dollars, has refused to concede to any of the nurse’s core demands. Friday at 7:00 a.m. they will be locked out of the hospital and on strike. But it is not only the strike that concerns Danella, who is wearing a blue T-shirt that reads: “Safe Staffing Saves Lives.”
Jersey City, NJ - It was a rare scene when an estimated 100 people rallied at the Journal Square, Jersey City transportation station in front of Jollibee, a popular fast food restaurant. The rally took place on July 6, National Fried Chicken Day, which was promoted on social media. The protesters demanded that nine Filipino workers be reinstated after Jollibee management fired them for attempting to organize workers in the restaurant for their rights. Jollibee is a fast-growing food chain, which originated in the Philippines, but has recently expanded in other countries, including the U.S. The chain made over $30 million in profits in 2022, with 40% of their total revenue coming in from around the world.
A New York hotel union has reached a deal with hotel owners and operators that will boost the wages of hospitality workers by $7.50 an hour, the largest increase in the union’s 100-year history. The agreement covers 7,000 members of the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council who work at 87 suburban hotels spanning from Princeton, N.J., to New York’s Albany region and Long Island. The five-year pact has already been ratified by the employers and is expected to be ratified by workers this month, according to union President Rich Maroko. The new contract doesn’t include New York City hotels, where union members are also represented by the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council and where wages are still at a premium compared with the suburbs.
Five hundred food service workers in the New York Metropolitan area authorized strikes on Thursday, March 9, for livable wages and against subcontracting. The workers, who are represented by New York City’s largest food service union, UNITE HERE Local 100, are employed by food service and facilities management behemoth Sodexo in nine cafeterias in New York and New Jersey. Strike authorizations at each of the Sodexo shops were announced at a rally outside the Bloomberg L.P. headquarters in Manhattan. The contracts of most of the Sodexo employees, who are cashiers, cooks, and other service workers in the swanky cafeterias of multiple Bloomberg locations, Colgate-Palmolive, and several other businesses and organizations, expired on Dec. 1, 2022.
Wharton, New Jersey - At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Refresco — a transnational corporation that produces and bottles soft drinks for major brands such as Tropicana and Gatorade — had a single response to its staff about the public health crisis unfolding at its Wharton, NJ plant an hour outside of New York City: show up to work. According to the workers at the plant and their union, employees exposed to the virus were denied time off, the factory remained open despite a broader economic shutdown, on top of the 12-hour shifts the company required. (Workers say the company used the pandemic to justify longer shifts, while Refresco claims the new policy went into place prior to the emergence of COVID-19). Outraged, the predominantly immigrant workforce formed a union, winning their first election in June 2021 in what was one of the largest blue-collar union victories during the pandemic.
Pennington, New Jersey - There was one minute left on Suzanne Horsley’s stopwatch and the atmosphere remained thick with carbon dioxide, despite the energetic efforts of her class of third graders to clear the air. Horsley, a wellness teacher at Toll Gate Grammar School, in Pennington, New Jersey, had tasked the kids with tossing balls of yarn representing carbon dioxide molecules to their peers stationed at plastic disks representing forests. The first round of the game was set in the 1700s, and the kids had cleared the field in under four minutes. But this third round took place in the present day, after the advent of cars, factories and electricity, and massive deforestation.
During the two years the cartoonist Joe Sacco and I spent on our book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, written out of the poorest pockets of America, we invariably encountered heroic men and women who — against overwhelming odds — rose up to fight lonely and often losing battles on behalf of the oppressed. Bill Means, Charlie Abourezk and Leonard Crow Dog in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Larry Gibson and Judy Bonds in the coal fields of West Virginia. Lucas Benitez, Laura Germano and Greg Abbot in the produce fields of Florida. The men and women in Zuccotti Park during the Occupy Wall Street movement. When set against the crushing poverty, environmental degradation, corporate abuse and despair they opposed, the victories they amassed were often miniscule.