We’ve made it to the end of another challenging year, filled with burdens and concerns for all of us, but especially those of us with caregiving responsibilities—you continue giving your best to everyone with little to no recognition. We thank you and support you. Work and family balance has been disrupted by the pandemic. We will work together to create balance, while recognizing the impact of those imbalances and your efforts to overcome them during this period and moving forward.
We deeply appreciate everything we did together to try to keep our university, our communities, and our families safe and whole, but back to campus does not mean back to normal. So we want to send our love and solidarity to all of you during the rest of this holiday season and our best wishes for some rest and relaxation, so you can recharge and maybe reset. There is so much to work on, and your feedback over the past year has been critically important to our collective efforts in the new year.
Because of the spread of the omicron variant, 2021 will close, like the year before, with uncertainty about what stage of the pandemic we are in. Our unions’ fight for a safe and healthy Rutgers has been at the forefront of our minds for the past few weeks. At its last meeting, our union’s Executive Council voted for a resolution calling for an urgent university response to the omicron threat. This week, the administration finally promised free weekly COVID testing for any employee who is required to be on campus—something our union has long been demanding. We hope the administration will rise to the occasion with a commitment to require booster vaccinations.
This fall, our union was able to shine a spotlight on critical issues. Our protests over the administration’s mishandling of the pay equity program gained national attention and pressured President Holloway to commit to addressing our concerns. Our colleagues in Camden bravely drew attention to the inequitable treatment of their campus, voting no confidence in the chancellor and provost. Sadly, President Holloway has not yet addressed our concerns, so these past fights will continue in the new year.
We will go ahead with plans for our contract campaign after the administration failed to respond to our union coalition’s proposal for a one-year extension. When the semester begins in January, we’ll hold town hall meetings so we can talk together about the results of this fall’s bargaining survey—and what we need to do to win an even better next contract. Plus our union will continue to participate in a new national coalition, Higher Ed Labor United, working together with more than 100 other unions and organizations to advance our shared vision of the public university of the 21st century.
Let’s show appreciation for our university staff colleagues who provide critical support for our own work and our students. We’d especially like to acknowledge and thank our incredible and tireless union staff, who support us every day in seen and unseen ways. We have a big year coming up, so enjoy the break and get some rest. We’ve got a lot of work ahead. But we’ll approach it with determination, solidarity, compassion—and our commitment to win the Rutgers we and our students deserve.
Becky and Todd
Rebecca Givan, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Todd Wolfson, General Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
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