By Nusrath Yusuf, Graduate Steering Committee/Executive Council, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
This was the 29th bargaining session and the first one since we opened the Strike Authorization Vote. The session was four hours long.
The one big takeaway from this session is that we need to vote during this strike authorization vote period. If you have not received your ballot, please fill out this form or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please see below on why voting now is important.
This was the second session where we had dedicated time related to discussing postdoc articles. We went through several articles, including Article 2, which focuses on the recognition and inclusion of postdoctoral associates and fellows in our unit. Some testimonials were presented on the need for including both postdoctoral fellows and associates in our unit. Article 22, which focuses on support for immigrant and international postdocs, was also presented. We at Rutgers draw a sizable number of international postdoc workers, and this article covers various issues that would make the transition of an international postdoc into Rutgers smoother, while trying to minimize any visa-related issues so that an immigrant or international postdoc is able to continue working here.
Article 5 from the adjunct unit was also presented during this session, covering grievance procedures. PTL grievances currently do not have binding arbitration. This article would reflect the procedure in the full-time unit.
About six unions belonging to our Coalition of Rutgers Unions showed up for a portion of the session, including HPAE Locals 5094 and 5089, CIR, URA, and the Doctors’ Council, in addition to our full-time unit and the adjunct unit. All the unions had been told by management that a significant proposal would be made regarding compensation. Around 100 rank-and-file members and members of the bargaining committee from multiple unions were present, showing up in good faith to hear this new counter-offer.
What was proposed instead was insulting—especially considering multiple unions had given up their bargaining times to listen to pitifully low wage increase offers. Management’s “significant” offer increased the percentage of raises previously proposed by 0.5 or 0.75 percent in each year of the contract. The administration still wants to defer paying raises—by three months instead of six proposed previously. And they want to retain contract language that allows them to declare a “fiscal emergency” and cancel all raises entirely.
We kicked off a strike authorization vote two days ago, and our members are frustrated and getting ready to strike. The official results of the vote won’t be known until the end of the voting period next week, but making such offers during this period will impact how our members will vote. This compensation proposal from management was also offered with the proposal that all other articles currently open at the table be withdrawn. Both sides have worked for months on various open articles, and I don’t understand why we are being asked to withdraw even the non-monetary articles in month 10 of bargaining.