We have a tentative agreement from negotiations with management that makes progress toward our demands of grad student funding extensions, job security for staff unions, PTL reappointment, scheduling of our deferred raises, and an end to the fiscal emergency. In return for these demands, we have tentatively agreed to a work-sharing arrangement under which eligible full-time faculty (see the exceptions described below) would take a weekly half-day furlough for 12 weeks through June 30, starting the week of April 12. Most faculty would maintain their full income if they apply for unemployment because of the additional federal benefit of $300 per week that our unions fought to include in the American Recovery Plan Act.
Click here to read the full text of the tentative agreement.
Here are some of the key highlights of the tentative agreement:
Raises and Fiscal Emergency
— Our July 1, 2020, merit raises, which were canceled when the university declared a fiscal emergency last summer, would be paid on July 1, 2021. Our original July 1, 2021, raises of 2.5% would be deferred and paid on March 1, 2022. The same deferral dates apply to minimum increases in TA/GA salaries.
— The raises would not be retroactive. We would give up a total of 20 months’ worth of raises.
— However, we won the raises back, and they will show up in our paychecks after the deferrals. Management had declared their intention to cancel the raises altogether; the agreement would get them back.
— The university would withdraw its June 2020 declaration of a fiscal emergency. It would not be allowed to declare another fiscal emergency during this fiscal year and the next one, ending June 30, 2022.
Grad Funding Extensions
— Doctoral students at the candidacy stage whose work has been disrupted by the pandemic can apply for funding extensions for the current semester and/or the coming Summer, Fall, and Spring 2022 semesters. The expansion of the program to cover Spring 2022 is a major gain over the program announced separately on the three campuses in early March.
— Because candidacy is defined differently in different departments and schools and because pre-candidate grads are excluded, the extensions will only be available to a portion of grads who need them. We were unable to get the university to commit in writing to a more universal program.
— Current TA/GAs who are approved would have their appointments extended for the Summer, Fall, and/or Spring 2022 semesters, with union salary, state employee health insurance, and tuition remission.
— All doctoral students at the candidacy stage can apply for extensions, but management will give priority to those who are coming off funding. There is no guarantee that the program will be continued after the next academic year for grads who still have funding ahead but fear they will run out in the future because of pandemic disruptions to their work over the past year.
— Our union will have to fight to make sure the improved, though still imperfect, process for extensions covers the maximum number of grads and goes beyond the next academic year. Our faculty, especially GPDs, need to play a key role in organizing for these goals.
— The tentative agreement explicitly states that continuation of the grad funding extensions program can be a subject of bargaining when we negotiate our contract next year. Management previously claimed it did not have to bargain over issues such as grad extensions.
— Grads who are denied extensions will have the right to appeal to the administration, and current TA/GAs will also have the right to grieve denials through the union.
— The administration will report on the program each semester to assure transparency and consistency across departments and campuses.
— Academic standing will not be a factor in eligibility for extensions.
Job Security for Staff
— Management has agreed to no-layoff guarantee through January 1, 2022, for members of URA-AFT, HPAE 5089 and 5094, and CWA 1031.
— There are exceptions under specified circumstances, but our staff union colleagues are satisfied that they would be rare.
— As a result of fiscal emergency negotiations, but not included in the tentative agreement, management agreed to return PTL appointment approval to the dean’s office, effectively rescinding the April 3, 2020, memo mandating a 20 percent reduction in PTL appointments and chancellor approval of any hiring.
— Management has not guaranteed that PTLs will be rehired.
Work-Sharing and Furloughs
(Read the “Work-Sharing and Furloughs FAQ” for a detailed explanation of the work-sharing program; below are summary highlights.)
— In return for the management concessions above, full-time faculty in our unit would furlough half a day per week over 12 weeks under a work-sharing program, ending on June 30.
— Members who make up to $194,000 would be able to protect their full income if they go through the state unemployment process (thanks to the federal unemployment supplement of $300 a week).
— Those making less than $194,000 a year would increase their income for the 12 weeks. Those making more would lose a small part of their income for 12 weeks; they would be sacrificing so we could win our demands for more vulnerable workers and a schedule for payment of our raises.
— TA/GAs would not participate in the work-sharing program.
— Faculty fully excluded from work-sharing include those who are working under a visa; who are funded by external grants; who are on sabbatical, family leave, or another paid leave of absence; or who have secondary appointments (co-ads, overload, grading, etc.) for the ful duration of the program (April 12–June 30).
— Faculty whose only secondary appointment at the university is Summer Session teaching or summer salary from an external grant would participate in work-sharing only until the end of May when their course/s or research begins.
— We are working to make sure faculty who suffered identity theft due to fraudulent unemployment claims will either have an expedited process for applying for UI or will be taken out of the program.
— Faculty who have another source of income outside Rutgers that would make them ineligible for unemployment would be removed from work-sharing and be made whole by the university.
— Rutgers would make its full contribution to our health insurance during work-sharing. There would be a small reduction in Rutgers’ contribution to our retirement savings, amounting to about $10 a week per $100,000 in annual salary.