Takeaway: You may have noticed something missing in your check from Rutgers this week: the raises due to us this month. The Barchi administration rejected a proposal developed by our union coalition that would have strengthened Rutgers’ future while protecting the vulnerable and preventing layoffs and pay freezes. Instead management is using the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to try to cancel the raises we fought for and won in our contract last year. We’re writing to tell you what Rutgers AAUP-AFT and our union coalition are doing to oppose management—and what you can do to help.
If you review your payroll information on the University’s portal, you will notice that your contractually scheduled raises are not included in this week’s check. That’s because Vivian Fernández (Senior Vice President for Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness) and Mike Gower (Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, as well as University Treasurer) last month issued letters to the Coalition of Rutgers Unions declaring a fiscal emergency and notifying us of their intention to withhold negotiated raises, thereby jeopardizing the futures of our 20,000-plus union members, their families, and communities throughout New Jersey.
Earlier this week, Rutgers AAUP-AFT filed three grievances over management’s violations of the contract we won last year. One grievance protests the university’s failure to finish merit increase evaluations. Another disputes the university’s June 8 declaration that a “fiscal emergency” exists at the university. The third charges that Rutgers failed to implement the new pay equity provision of the contract. You can find out more about the grievances and read each of them by clicking here.
By declaring a fiscal emergency, the Barchi administration turned its back on the plan developed by our Union coalition to confront the COVID-19 crisis with a work-sharing furlough program that would prevent layoffs and program cuts, protect the most vulnerable, and bolster the University’s financial health. This is what austerity looks like under COVID: your raises are being docked in lieu of the University negotiating work-sharing with the Coalition of Rutgers Unions that would have saved over $100 million for our university and our people. (Read Todd’s comments about our unions’ relationship with Rutgers in an NJSpotlight.com article earlier this week.)
To be clear, with this fiscal emergency declaration, the administration has said that it doesn’t want to reach an agreement with us. In the time-honored fashion of corporate management, it is trying to exploit the crisis so it can push an aggressive agenda of privatization and union busting. Rutgers’ eligibility for millions more in federal relief funding, the enormous revenue potential of its COVID-19 saliva test, and its hiring of Jackson Lewis, one of the country’s most notorious union-busting law firms, reveals that this battle is not primarily about money. Instead, after squandering over $10 million a week in potential savings from work-sharing, the Barchi administration imposed a top-down vision of austerity on our state university, one that disregards its responsibilities to Rutgers’ students and workforce.
If this corporate, anti-worker vision for Rutgers doesn’t sit well with you, please get involved with our union. To help with organizing, email jchaffin @ rutgersaaup.org. To find out about what else you can do, contact either one of us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can urge the new Rutgers president, Jonathan Holloway, to cancel Barchi’s layoffs and the fiscal emergency declaration, and to work with our coalition of unions toward a people-centered approach to the crisis, by adding your name to this petition. We have a fight on our hands that will continue through the summer and into the fall, but we need to take the first steps now.
Todd and Becky
Rutgers AAUP-AFT and the Coalition of Rutgers Unions
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rutgers AAUP-AFT Facebook page: https://facebook.com/RUaaup/
Follow us on Twitter and Instagram: @ruaaup