As the New Jersey Legislature prepares to reconvene and finalize the state’s fiscal year 2024 budget, union leaders with a stake in New Jersey City University are telling the state Senate and Assembly that there is an urgent need to address NJCU’s well-documented financial crisis.

“For Trenton, this is a ‘what side are you on’ moment. We are asking the Legislature to stand with students and staff and right the wrongs of the previous administration that gambled away their futures … We’re not asking for a blank check: We’re asking for enough support to dig out of a black hole that is about to swallow the dreams and opportunities of a large part of the city’s heart.”

In mid-March, Weingarten, Donna M. Chiera, president of AFTNJ , and Barbara Hildner, president of  AFT Local 1839, which staffs NJCU, were among the high-profile speakers at the Fund NJCU Rally. Since then, faculty, staff, students and alumni have appeared in video messages shared on AFTNJ’s social media channels in which they directly address Gov. Phil Murphy and New Jersey legislators about the need for funding and NJCU’s importance to the Jersey City community and to higher education across the Garden State.

In prepared remarks issued June 1, 2023, Hildner appeared to ask for more than did Weingarten, saying NJCU’s students “deserve an education from a college that is thriving and not just surviving.”

Chiera asked Trenton to value New Jersey’s public colleges and universities as much as it does its grade schools. Like Weingarten, she also blamed NJCU’s woes on the Legislature, not just the previous NJCU administration.

“For several years, New Jersey has promoted its No. 1 status in PreK-12 education, but unfortunately, many of our state’s higher education institutions are eliminating programs, laying off faculty and staff who directly serve our students, or struggling to keep their doors open. … The Legislature has the … responsibility to monitor their investment to ensure the funding is being spent on the true mission of these institutions: education.”