Takeaway: The Coalition of Rutgers Unions reached an agreement with Rutgers to end the fiscal emergency and rescind the PTL hiring freeze, but more work is needed. Please sign our petition for a safe and fair return to campus in the fall.
The Coalition of Rutgers Unions (CRU) has reached a tentative agreement with university administration that lifts the April 3, 2020 PTL hiring freeze and settles the fiscal emergency arbitration in which our partner unions were involved. The deal is a complex one, with many elements. Below we explain what this agreement offers for PTLs, and what we must continue to fight for.
For PTLs, it is important to note that we were not officially a party to these fiscal emergency negotiations. Our contract does not have the “subject to” fiscal emergency clause that other unions in the CRU have. Because of this, Rutgers took the position that our PTL union had no standing to make any demands in these negotiations. However, given that PTLs were hit hard by the April 3, 2020 hiring freeze (roughly 400 of us were not rehired this year), our CRU partners insisted that we be included, and that our demands be heard.
On February 22, 2021, the PTLFC thus re-issued our long-standing demand that the university rescind the April 3rd hiring freeze, and transfer back the authority to hire PTLs from the Chancellor’s office to deans and departments.
On February 25, we won our demand. Rutgers rescinded the hiring freeze and Human Resources subsequently changed the language for PTL hiring practices. The presidential directive now reflects the practice that had been in place before the pandemic.
We need to be clear: while lifting the hiring freeze is an essential step, it is still only a first step. Our union must continue to fight to ensure Rutgers does what’s necessary to provide top quality education to students. Please sign and circulate our petition to President Holloway to demand that the university rehire PTLs who were dismissed under the hiring freeze, restore course offerings for students, return class sizes to pre-COVID levels, issue appointment letters in a timely fashion, and give PTLs a voice in determining how to safely and fairly return to campus.
You can read the full-text and a summary of key provisions of the tentative agreement here. You can also attend an all-union Town Hall this Thursday evening, April 1, at 5pm featuring Naomi Klein, where additional elements of the agreement will be fully explained. Register here.
No agreement wins everything a union wants. But in addition to getting the hiring freeze lifted for PTLs, this process revealed the strength of the solidarity between the CRU unions and the PTLFC. We must build on that solidarity in the months to come. Our PTL contract expires in 2022, and we deserve a much better one.
The PTLFC-AAUP-AFT Board