By Mich Ling, Grad Worker Steering Committee, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
- There is still no clear commitment from the university to fund extensions for grads who received letters of non-appointment on April 31, 2022, despite repeated testimony from grad members of the precarity we continue to face as Fall semester looms. Reminders about the inability of grads to pay rent and international grads to renew their visas and maintain residence in the U.S. failed to elicit a response from administrators, who continued to insist on the need to gather further data and that individual grad needs could be handled on a “case by case” basis. Administrators have put onus on chancellors and their units to provide further data on grad needs, despite their insistence that they understand how devastating the last few years have been for workers. Pressure from union members at and beyond the table forced them to admit that a “timeline is a reasonable request,” but they again deferred any real commitment to supporting grads. Members who attended bargaining expressed the lack of trust in the administration’s “process,” due to the precedent they have set in offering support only when pushed, and often that is too little, too late.
- In regards to Article 28, we asked two direct questions: 1) Does the Holloway administration agree to “equal pay for equal work”?; and 2) More specifically, does the administration agree that adjuncts do the same work, fractionally, as full-time faculty? In response, the administration said they would “not be discussing PTLs at this table.” Union leaders affirmed that a central contract demand is for #OneUnion with AAUP-BHSNJ and the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union. Bryan Sacks of the adjunct union reminded the administration that the same demands (for recognition of PTLs and clinicians in our bargaining unit and “equal pay for equal work”) will be brought up at their bargaining session next Monday.
- We rejected the administrations counter to Article 7, specifically their changes to 2A and 2B regarding the designation of union representatives. Our proposed increase in course releases is modest and reasonable, considering the work union members do to further the mission of the university (for example, the months spent negotiating and implementing the work-sharing program). Currently, there’s an overreliance on our members’ dues money to support union work, rather than a commitment from the administration. This is especially egregious when we know that: a) a majority of members are either underpaid or do not make a living wage in New Jersey; b) the university can absolutely afford to increase work releases; and c) the data we collected during the last bargaining round showed that other universities pay more on average for course releases.
On the whole, the administration continues to kick the can down the road on grad funding and equal pay for equal work. Despite their claims to care about the mission of our university and the hundreds of millions of dollars they received in pandemic aid, they have shown no commitment to supporting the workers who teach, research, and serve Rutgers. We are reminded that to win this fight, we cannot rely on the administration to do the right thing. Only through continued organizing and action and a strong belief in the power of our own labor, will we win our demands.
The above is a report from the ninth 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.