By Nusrath Yusuf, Graduate Steering Committee/Executive Council, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
This was the 27th bargaining session. At this stage, a lot of the logistical and technical details of continuing hybrid bargaining sessions have been worked out. Our core bargaining committee members attended in person and over Zoom (our member observers joined over Zoom), while most of the management’s team were in person.
The first part of the session was focused on going through our package of articles. We continue to hold our stance on anti-discrimination on Article 4—that caste should be added as a new protected category into our contract, as it is not covered by other categories such as race, nationality, class, or creed. We have shown some movement on this by agreeing to management’s proposal to also create a Task Force on this issue. There was some good discussion on Article 6, where we are seeking state funding of five-year packages for TA/GA or graduate fellowships for past EOF alums. The Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) is a great program to open up opportunities for those from educationally or economically disadvantaged backgrounds. These types of pipeline programs are essential to creating a more inclusive and diverse academic environment. This article would open up a new area of funding that the university does not currently have while securing the continued success of an important Rutgers program like EOF.
Next, we discussed Articles 9, 10, and 11, where we continued to emphasize that template release language will need to be agreed upon before reaching an agreement on this article. We have been proposing that this release language be precise and cover only the grievance that a worker has lodged (and not future ones they may bring up).
Finally, there was some discussion on Article 21, 22, and 25—particularly Article 25, where we continue to hold our stand on deans being able to grant terminal sabbaticals. There was a chunk of the session spent in caucus.
Next, we presented our counter to Article 8 on salary provisions, compensation, and health insurance benefits. We are holding strong on our proposed increases in graduate worker compensation and made some adjustments to the proposed increase for overall raises. This article also has several clauses to ensure salary equity among various campuses, and we had some discussions on that.
A Tentative Agreement was reached on PTL Article 11, which provides a professional development fund of $125,000 for each academic year.
We continue to hold strong on several articles in our package of articles, and it seems like management is open to meeting us on some of them.
We continue to use these bargaining sessions to negotiate on full-time unit and PTL unit articles collectively.