On January 27, 2017, President Teresa Politano wrote to union members, providing an update on the part-time lecturer faculty chapter's work and future plans.
Dear PTL Colleague,
It is becoming a watershed moment. And as you watch activists galvanize all across the nation, you may well be wondering: What exactly is my union doing? And how might I help the cause?
Specifically, at Rutgers, our fight is for fractional appointments, part-time salaries that directly correlate to full-time salaries, equal pay for equal work--with benefits.
Our research shows that Rutgers fails to keep pace with other Big Ten universities. Many of our peer institutions offer commensurate pay, plus health benefits, to part-time employees. The Big Ten argument is an argument that carries significant weight.
In the summer, PTL union leaders met with State Sen. Richard Codey. He was surprised to learn that we are not keeping pace in the Big Ten, and our arguments prompted legislative hearings on the adjunct circumstance in New Jersey. David Chapman, Secretary of the PTLFC, provided excellent testimony at the State House in October. Additional hearings are expected.
Last month, union leaders met with gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy. He seemed surprised to learn that Rutgers offers NO health benefits to ANY part-time employee, all while aggressively branding itself as a cutting-edge medical institution, one that is focused on health and wellness. Murphy, who clearly understood that the adjunct is the Uber driver of the modern university, was also dismayed to learn that Rutgers is not keeping pace with its peers.
Most of you are aware of our organizing effort – we’ve signed on nearly 500 new members in the past year. Most of you are also aware that union leaders have been meeting with the administration for many months on just these issues. We are working to hammer out a set of recommendations for an evaluations framework that leads to real rewards, including job security and a long-term career path.
Despite the momentum, we know the fight ahead is difficult. Fractional pay, with benefits and a clear and direct career path, may be standard issue at the University of Michigan, but here at Rutgers, it is a radical idea. The administration is eager to keep its flexible freelance workforce, and just last week balked at the notion of the most mundane of suggestions, that of annual appointments.
These are chaotic times, but chaos breeds opportunity. We believe we are in a unique situation to refute the new president and his anti-union sentiments. Our fight is part of the bigger fight.
What can you do to help? We are planning workshops and organizing rallies. We will need volunteers. We are planning to educate legislators. We will need volunteers. We will keep you posted.
We also need to make the adjunct more visible. Legislators continue to be surprised by the extent of the expertise exhibited by the part-time workforce at Rutgers; they were, however, downright shocked to learn that part-time lecturers are teaching hard science courses, STEM courses, Honors College courses, and other courses essential to the mission of many departments under conditions that could only charitably be described as less than ideal. If this is you, and you’d like to share your story, please be in touch.
You should also know that we are working closely with other unions at Rutgers and throughout the state. In these chaotic times, we will stand with our union brothers and sisters, with our undocumented students and university workers. We will stand for religious freedom, academic freedom and free speech. We will stand for science and research. We are not curling up.
PTLs who are not yet members and paying the nonmember representation fee (as required by New Jersey state labor law) received the same information as full union dues paying members with encouragment to join the union. Union dues for Part-Time Lecturers are 0.50% of salary; this is a very small increase above the amount of the nonmember representation fee. See this chart to note the difference between union dues and the fee based on a sample salary. Signing a union membership form is an important step towards adjuncts being able to help each other by using our union rights to promote democracy in the workplace and to stand up for quality public higher education for our students.
President, Part-Time Lecturer Faculty Chapter
PTL, Journalism & Media Studies (SC&I-New Brunswick)