As you probably noticed, there was something missing from your paychecks last week: the merit raises we’ve been waiting a year to get. We won back the raises that management tried to cancel in our fiscal emergency negotiations this spring. Faculty members held up their end of the bargain by dealing with the frustrations of the New Jersey unemployment system. Management had three months to do something they do every year and process the raises.
But at the end of June, Senior Vice President for Human Resources and “Organizational Effectiveness” Vivian Fernández informed our unions that her department was “too busy” to implement the pay raise as of July 1, as they are required to under our signed agreement.
Then she went on vacation.
This is the kind of disrespect for the people who make the university work that we’ve come to expect from Fernández and other holdovers of the former Barchi/Christie administration. Sadly, though, when our Coalition of Rutgers Unions delivered a petition to President Holloway with more than 1,200 signers (it’s now up to over 1,500), we got a response from him that repeated the excuse that three months wasn’t enough time.
Our unions asked an arbitrator to require the university to pay the raises on time, but the first hearing only took place late last week. By the time we get a ruling, we will likely be close to the August 6 date when management proposes to pay our raises. It’s not too late for them to do the right thing and get the increases ready for our next paycheck. But if nothing changes, you can expect to see your raise in the August 6 paycheck, along with a retroactive sum to cover the period since July 1 of this year.
We had to organize to get these raises back—management intended to cancel them altogether when they declared a fiscal emergency last summer. But management is showing its disrespect once again by withholding them for another few paychecks. To add insult to injury, our postdocs, who finally won a new contract after two years of management delays, didn’t get the substantial pay increases they achieved in their agreement. Management wants them to spend another month waiting to get a living wage for their vital work.
President Holloway’s message to us expressed appreciation for “the progress we have made on many fronts in labor and management relationships.” But actions speak louder than words. We have another example of why we need to be organized and united going into this coming contract year. As the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, “People might not get all they work for in this world, but they certainly work for all they get.”
Let’s get to work.
Becky and Todd
Rebecca Givan, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Todd Wolfson, General Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
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