May 12, 2020
Takeaway: In response to the pandemic, we offer a people-centered approach that is based on the principle that we are all in this together and we have a responsibility to look out for each other. Please read the entire email and join us this Saturday, May 16th, 12pm, details below, when we will take our demands directly to President Barchi’s house in a physical-distance safe car caravan protest.
We learned last week that a Rutgers scientific team achieved authorization from the Federal Drug Administration for a COVID-19 saliva test for home and personal use. A first in the world, this test is characterized by President Barchi as “a game changer as we confront the pandemic.” This achievement has brought worldwide attention to extraordinary innovation at our university, but it has also given all of us an opportunity to work together toward the Rutgers we want. We should model a humane 21st century public university that can be the pride of our state, our country, and the world.
The Coalition of Rutgers Unions is ready to work with the administration to accomplish this goal. Our approach is based on a simple notion: we are in this together. We have a responsibility to each other and the greater common good, which requires that we center people as we redress imbalances of power and resource distribution that exacerbate the duress our community members are experiencing right now.
A people-centered approach to the Covid crisis centers the following principles:
Protect the Most Vulnerable
- No layoffs
- Create a hardship fund for PTLs
- Extend graduate student funding packages for one year
- Create a hardship fund for international students not eligible for CARES support
- Create a hardship fund for our community members who are not eligible for CARES support in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden
Provide Dignity and Voice in the Workplace
- Give students a central decision-making role in the distribution of funds from CARES Act
- Settle all outstanding contracts
- Follow state example and renegotiate health care for Rutgers workers
Promote and Support Diversity
- Unfreeze Diversity and pay equity program (although SVPAA Barbara Lee has confirmed that 50% salary support for diversity hires will continue, with a general hiring freeze this means nothing in terms of new faculty hiring).
How can we accomplish this?
- Terminate RCM
The university’s budgeting system, Responsibility Center Management (RCM) diverts resources from our academic mission. Under RCM, each unit that teaches students or receives income must pay a tax which goes into the coffers of the central administration to spend as the administration wishes. The units must balance their budgets after this tax, which is typically 15–25% of revenues allocated to that unit. Central does not balance its budget; it just takes from the units that actually do teaching and research. RCM means central management takes no responsibility. It is designed to disguise management bloat. This system has never made sense for Rutgers, and it is time for it to go.
- Reduce Management Bloat
Rutgers is a national leader in management bloat. The ranks of senior management have grown rapidly in the last decade, and executive compensation has grown even faster, far outpacing any increases in faculty, staff, and graduate-student pay.
On April 24th, weeks after senior administrations at peer institutions had taken voluntary and sizable pay cuts, the Barchi administration announced it was following suit. But senior management thinks it can buy credibility with a noblesse oblige. What President Barchi described as a 10% pay cut for his top managers over a four-month period is, actually, a 3.3% reduction in yearly salary, with no promises at all beyond that quarter. Altogether, this give-back, made while hundreds of PTLs are receiving a 100% pay cut, is a gesture of contempt.
- Halt the Athletics Sinkhole
During President Barchi’s tenure, Rutgers Athletics has incurred ever-increasing deficits. During each of the past three years, these deficits have exceeded $40M, according to a USA Today summary of reports to the NCAA. Since President Barchi arrived at Rutgers, the cumulative total athletics deficit exceeds $200M. No other Big 10 school spends as much to subsidize its athletics program as Rutgers. The current fiscal disruption provides an opportunity for Rutgers to refocus its budgetary priorities from athletics to academics.
Budget systems and proposals are statements of collective priorities and values. Let’s put Rutgers students and university workers at the center of our moral universe, prioritizing our fundamental missions of teaching and research. Our people-centered approach to this crisis, like the recently authorized saliva test for COVID-19 antibodies, can be a game changer.
We invite President Barchi to join the coalition of Rutgers Unions in transforming Rutgers into a leading 21st century public university, supporting extraordinary research and teaching as well as humane policies towards the students, workers, and communities that make it revolutionary.
Please join us in bringing our demands directly to President Barchi’s doors this coming Saturday, May 16th, in a physical-distance safe car caravan protest with union, student and community allies. Meet at 12pm at the Sears Parking lot across from the Labor Education Center, 51 US Rte 1 to head over together.
Todd and Becky
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, VP, Rutgers AAUP-AFT