Our New Brunswick School of Arts and Sciences colleagues have delivered a clear message against layoffs and program cuts. After an emergency SAS meeting last Thursday attended by more than 400 people, a faculty resolution demanding reinstatement of laid-off staff members, rehiring of PTLs at last Spring’s levels for the coming semester, and an ad hoc committee to develop an alternative to layoffs passed by an overwhelming 482–46 vote.
We’re proud of the outcome and proud of our union’s rapid response to management threats against our most vulnerable colleagues. In late September, after back-to-back news of a restructuring plan that would eliminate 22 staff positions in SAS New Brunswick and then the directive to the Writing Program, since partially reversed, to ban the hiring of any PTLs for the Spring semester, our faculty petitioned for an emergency meeting under the SAS bylaws. The required 10 percent of faculty signed the petition in a matter of hours.
This is what solidarity looks like: at the meeting, full-time faculty, part-time faculty, students, and staff joined together to tell Rutgers management that layoffs hurt us all. The vote by full-time faculty rejects management’s claims that it has no choice but to cut the most precarious workers. Our union’s treasurer, David Hughes, gave a pointed presentation proving that #RUHasTheMoney. Anyone who wants the hard facts should look at his presentation, titled “Manufacturing Scarcity: A Scarlet Story in Seven Slides,” and read the text of the SAS resolution. SAS faculty are not accepting the false limits imposed by RCM budgeting, which provides an alibi for harming staff and faculty while diverting attention from management’s distorted priorities and the university’s hundreds of millions in unrestricted reserves.
We still have a fight ahead of us—management isn’t going to reverse course from the cuts it’s already advertising in the media because of one vote. But we’re in a stronger position because we responded quickly to these initial threats, organized as one with our sibling unions in the Coalition of Rutgers Unions, and sent a near-unanimous message that we will protect the university’s core missions of research, teaching, and public service against layoffs and senseless austerity.
All of us outside SAS New Brunswick should take note of how we used the bylaws of the School to put management on the spot and repudiate their plans. If you’re hearing about staff and PTL cuts now or in the Spring semester, get in touch with us right away at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can plan a similar united response.
Todd, Becky, and Andrew
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Andrew Goldstone, Executive Council member, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
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