Takeaway: Last Friday, management issued a directive to fire all Part-Time Lecturers in the New Brunswick Writing Program for the spring semester—just one day after the state legislature passed a budget that reversed nearly $100 million in threatened funding cuts to Rutgers. Let your PTL colleagues know that our union will fight alongside them. Show your solidarity by signing up to speak at the Board of Governors meeting on October 7 at 1pm. And if you’re in SAS-NB, please sign this petition to trigger an emergency SAS meeting via school bylaws to demand the layoffs be reversed.
Management dropped their latest layoff threat on your Part-Time Lecturer colleagues late Friday afternoon: the Writing Program at New Brunswick has been ordered to cut all its PTLs for the spring semester. At least 40 more PTLs could be out of a job come January, and a letter from SAS NB Executive Dean Peter March to department chairs and program directors suggests there are worse cuts in store.
The administration is choosing to inflict more harm on the most vulnerable faculty. Already, as many as 25 percent of PTLs weren’t rehired to teach their regular courses this fall. Full-time faculty and grad workers will be expected to do more work faster to make up for the precious teaching experience we lose. Students will lose out, too: the Writing Program is being told to let online class sizes soar. Remember learning to write well in a huge class? No? Neither does anyone else.
President Jonathan Holloway has said he wants to preserve our “beloved community,” but he has also criticized what he calls “adjunctification” at Rutgers. We think the administration should find a solution to the increasing reliance on instructors who don’t enjoy full-time pay, health insurance, or job security. But the solution isn’t to fire PTLs, but instead to convert more of them to full-time faculty, as the Writing Program already has, and pay remaining adjuncts their worth at the proper fractional rate, proportional to the pay of full-timers.
These latest layoffs—which follow threats to fire 15 to 20 staff admins assigned to departments in SAS New Brunswick as part of a “restructuring” plan—are all the more reprehensible coming at the end of a week when we celebrated the restoration of threatened cuts in the state budget, thanks to the efforts of the Coalition of Rutgers Unions and our allies working with elected representatives and state officials. Management now has nearly $100 million more than they were expecting to cover budget shortfalls. Yet they continue cutting jobs, causing maximum pain to our colleagues for the most minimal financial gain. Make no mistake, management is using the pandemic as an opportunity to discipline the workforce at Rutgers.
Our unions will not accept these unnecessary and cruel layoffs. Last weekend, some 250 people came out for the #March4RLivesRJobsRSchools in New Brunswick and thousands more followed it online. We worked with other unions, student groups, and community organizations to send a unified message to Rutgers and its corporate and political allies.
We will fight these layoffs with the same spirit of solidarity. Faculty in SAS are petitioning for an emergency meeting to demand reversal of the layoffs—if you’re in SAS, please sign the petition. During the summer, we proposed actions you could take in solidarity with laid-off PTLs. Lastly, we plan to let the Board of Governors meeting, scheduled for October 7, know what we think of their continued austerity policies; sign up to speak at the open session planned for 1 p.m.
P.S. The Rutgers University Student Assembly is holding an election through tonight at midnight, with three important referenda on the ballot. Please encourage your students to participate in the RUSA vote.
Todd and Becky
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
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