On our first day of classes for Spring Term, we received an email from Chancellor Edwards, "Status of Negotiations for a Successor Agreement." We're happy to see that he is as eager, as we are, to reach resolution, though it is curious that he credits management for the improvements and initiatives that the union actively fought for and achieved. Quibbling aside, let's get straight to the points where the union and management remain at odds:
Chancellor Edwards says that this clause "has rarely been put into effect." However, we remember all too well that it was invoked in 2010 to freeze salaries. When funding from the State of New Jersey represents only 19% of the total budget, and the remaining budget comes largely from student tuition——which has increased more than 25% since 2008 in addition to increasing enrollments——it is no wonder that 98% of the respondents to our poll in December 2014 said "No" to any contract containing this clause. As for Chancellor Edwards' claim that the clause is merely a "safety net" and it would be "irresponsible to either eliminate or suspend the language," we think there is a better way to handle an emergency that does not simply penalize our members.
So long as the current "subject to" clause remains, all the proposed economic gains listed in Chancellor Edwards' email potentially add up to zero.
Chancellor Edwards does not dispute the existence of $700 million in unrestricted funds, but it appears that he is not inclined to share it with our members, despite the fact that these funds have grown steadily over the years, through good times and bad. Nevertheless, we have made a responsible proposal for salary increases that will not require eating into reserves.
We encourage all faculty to come by our office at 11 Stone St. off College Ave. to pick up new contract campaign buttons and stickers to wear and post to doors and cubicles to show management and each other that we are not backing down.
We are eager to conclude bargaining, but not at the expense of a fair contract for our members.
Lisa Klein, President