Rutgers faculty include some of the most celebrated scholars and researchers in the world and yet the recent communication from Chancellor Richard Edwards to our members about contract negotiations seems to call into question our capacity to remember recent facts, or even comprehend our own pay stubs:
Let’s set the record straight. The reason why 98 percent of faculty voted to refuse any contract with the existing “subject to” language is because Rutgers’ top administrators froze our salaries in 2010—just 10 months after the union voluntarily renegotiated the contract with management and deferred increases of $25 million. In so doing, workers made the largest donation in the history of Rutgers.
The AAUP-AFT has won many victories at bargaining so far, due in large part to the robust efforts by our members:
Two critical issues must still be resolved:
1. A fair compensation package consisting of merit and across-the-board increases – one that recognizes that over the last three years faculty only received raises deferred from the last contract, when the University unilaterally invoked the “subject to” language; and
2. Contract language that ensures our hard-won gains will be honored, with guarantees that if there is a true, verifiable fiscal emergency, both parties can come together to renegotiate.
Chancellor Edwards has asked you to accept Rutgers’ current deal that would allow the University to retain the unfettered discretion to cancel negotiated raises and other benefits. In addition, he asks you to accept a compensation package that does not make up for three years of no new money, not to mention rising health care costs. You know what your pay stubs look like. The union has referenced the $708 million in unrestricted reserves and Rutgers' fundraising prowess to underscore the good financial state Rutgers is in, which renders management's insistence on retaining "subject to" language that much more baffling.
You have made clear to the leadership of the AAUP-AFT that you want an enforceable contract—one that ensures that the University honors its contractual commitments, unless a true fiscal crisis makes that impossible. You also deserve fair compensation for your invaluable contributions to this University.
We hear you—the membership of this Union—loud and clear. We fully intend to continue to bargain hard on the few remaining open, but critically important, issues.
Chancellor Edwards wants negotiations to be concluded. So do we! The major difference is that the AAUP-AFT membership wants and deserves a contract that ensures the University will never again cancel negotiated raises without proof of a fiscal emergency and a transparent process that involves faculty input.
We bargain again next Tuesday, February 24, and are expecting Dick Edwards to be present at the bargaining table at Old Queens. Please join us at 1:30 pm, Tues, Feb 24, at Old Queens to send a strong and clear message.
See you at Old Queens,
Lisa Klein, President