By Mich Ling, Grad Worker Steering Committee, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
- Administrators continue to “hope” to have a proposal to address grad funding extensions and tentatively scheduled a sidebar meeting with grad workers on the bargaining committee for Friday, July 29, to discuss it further. Despite repeated testimony from affected grad workers, union survey results, and data analysis showing grad need, the administration insists on pursuing their own data generated from a list of grad workers who received letters of non-reappointment in April 2022. Administrators say this list is simply a “status update,” with about 50-plus grads whose information is still “missing.” This is a part of an ongoing strategy to evade responsibility and use loopholes in our contract to minimize potential grad need. For example, grad fellows, who make up a sizable portion of the grad worker population at Rutgers, are not included in the non-reappointment list simply because they are not yet represented by the union. This allows the administration to refuse to take accountability for the pandemic disruptions to these grad worker’s research and ability to matriculate and limits the union’s ability to bargain on their behalf. As always, we continue to build power through a recognition of the value of our own labor, not by hoping the administration will do the right thing.
- B.J. Walker, Senior Staff Representative from our union’s Contract Enforcement/Grievance team, offered a counter-argument to adjustments made to Articles 9 and 10 regarding grievance procedure—specifically, the waivers members sign after a grievance has been resolved. Currently, the administration presents members with four pages of waivers that extend well beyond the scope of the grievance, acting as a kind of legally binding gag order. These umbrella waivers are harmful to workers and suggest that the administration considers their grievance an act of war against the university. Our union proposes that the university should simplify the required releases and waivers and change the language to only release rights connected to the member’s grievance. The potential to be bound by these umbrella waivers is antithetical to the purpose of Article 9, which is to offer an alternative dispute resolution procedure that does not require litigation and is ultimately beneficial to both workers and the university.
- A tentative agreement was reached on a minor change to Article 13, which covers expedited appeals of denial of tenure.
- Damon Fillman, Lead Staff Representative from the Contract Enforcement/Grievance Team, discussed our union’s proposal for Article 11, which covers the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Grievance Procedure. Damon explained a similar need to adjust waiver language to support workers’ rights to an alternative dispute resolution procedure at Rutgers. This would ultimately help the university’s mission, as it avoids litigation.
- Angela Lawrence, a library faculty member in the Dana Library in Newark, presented Article 34, on the Path to Tenure for Non-Tenure Track (NTT) Librarians. It is common among non-tenure track librarians to work at the same level as tenured and tenure-track colleagues. NTT librarians have publications in peer review journals, do research and present it at conferences and symposia, and in general keep abreast of the current trends in the field and best practices, applying those practices when offering instruction or reference services. NTT Librarians would be able to choose the path to tenure if they wished, but wouldn’t be required to. The proposal includes an application process similar to the existing tenure stream for TT employees; NTT librarians would be subject to the same evaluations and probationary period, at the end of which the NTT would go back to their previous position if they are not granted tenure.
- Our union introduced an appendix regarding vacation carryover for librarians. Under the direction of an administrator who is no longer working at Rutgers, the longstanding practice of carryover for up to 22 unused vacation days was discontinued in Spring 2020. The union filed a grievance that settled in January 2021 which permitted RUL faculty to carry over up to 22 days of unused vacation days into the 2021-22 and 2022-23 fiscal years, with the understanding that the union would propose codifying the practice without an expiration date during the contract campaign. Due to short-staffing and other issues, it’s already difficult for RUL faculty to utilize 22 days before they expire. Without a resolution, they would be forced to use vacation time concurrently. This will cause disruptions to the maintenance of library resources and facilities critical to our mission as a research university.
The above is a report from the eleventh bargaining session for our next contract. After each session, our union will provide an update, written by a rotating cast of member-observers who are sitting in on negotiations. Click here for a full archive of Bargaining Updates.