By Julie Flynn, Department Rep, Writing Program, New Brunswick, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
- The bargaining committee and the administration came to a tentative agreement on two minor points in Articles 13 and 17 (click here to see the language of these articles in our current contract). This shows that management can be receptive to our demands and that progress can be made.
- Most of the discussion today was focused on whether people with fellowships count as part of our bargaining unit. The administration contends that because they are a different class of employee, they should not be part of the same unit as TAs and GAs. They cite the fact that fellowships are paid through department or some other funding source as a reason they do not have “a traditional employee relationship.” Our union counters that fellows do the exact same job as TAs and GAs and so should be part of the same bargaining unit and get the same representation and protections. This difference of understanding is something that both sides agreed to discuss more in the future, but that management seems unwilling to see our way.
- There was also discussion of grad students whose funding was affected by the pandemic. Management claimed that they had addressed the problem fully, citing a list of programs and students who needed resolutions. Union leadership pointed out that some programs, such as Childhood Studies in Camden, had been (presumably unintentionally) left off management’s list.
- The last part of the session featured a brief discussion of parts of Articles 4 and 9. There was some disagreement about how and if to include caste as a protected category in the section on nondiscrimination and if HIV status should be listed under disability.
Too long; Didn’t read?
This was my first time observing a bargaining session, and it seemed very productive and cordial. While the administration seems resistant to making sure every grad student has five years of funding and to seeing as fellows included in our bargaining unit, they did make some concessions, and we have come to some tentative agreements, which is a great sign that we can make progress using the current format, bargaining on Zoom with observers present. We are definitely making progress and making them see our perspective and why they should respect and acknowledge it.
The above is a report from the twelfth 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.