We’re writing to update you about a development in our discussions with the administration about our contract, which expires on June 30, 2022.
Last week, management responded to a proposal about extending union contracts from the Coalition of Rutgers Unions. After discussions with CRU, our Negotiating Committee decided to give them this week to prove they are serious about a contract extension that meets the requirements we laid out months ago: a one-year extension for all unions (not two years, as management proposed); guaranteed emergency funding for any graduate student left out of the current funding extensions program who won’t have funding at the end of the 2021–22 academic year; a raise that meets the needs of all of our unions, particularly our lower-paid colleagues; and a continued ban on the administration declaring another fiscal emergency.
We gave management a counteroffer yesterday reiterating those terms, and we made it clear that: 1) we won’t agree to any extension that doesn’t include all those requirements; and 2) we won’t let them drag out extension bargaining past this week.
If we don’t get a program for emergency funding support for grads, we won’t have an extension. If the discussions we have scheduled with management this week don’t produce a concrete proposal that we can take to our members to ratify, we will know that management wasn’t serious. We’ll launch our bargaining survey early next week and prepare to bargain a successor to our current contract.
We believe there are benefits to a contract extension, provided it meets all our requirements. The chaos and uncertainty of the pandemic continued to loom over this semester, disrupting the discussions and organizing that have to take place to get the contract we want and deserve. Another year could put us in a more powerful position. On the other hand, we already know that we’ll be fighting for major improvements in our next contract—and nationally labor is growing stronger as we deal with the impact of the pandemic on the economy, our labor, and our lives. So we will have to be ready if management walks away from an extension deal.
As with last spring’s fiscal emergency agreement, if there is a tentative agreement on a contract extension, the union’s Executive Council would vote on whether to recommend it to the membership, and then all members would vote on whether to ratify it.
If we don’t have an agreement that is at least very close to final by the end of this week, we will continue with our plans for the contract campaign—starting with the bargaining survey, so we know what you want to see in a new contract and what you think we should do to win it.
Whatever happens, contract extension or no, we want to be very clear that our union can’t stop organizing. Yesterday, our colleagues in Camden demonstrated what we’ve said all along—we won’t wait for the next contract to demand equity for their underfunded and disrespected campus.
More than 150 faculty, grad workers, and students jammed a classroom to demand answers from Chancellor Tillis about Dean Marchitello’s firing and Camden’s future. Over 160 people joined the meeting via Zoom, many displaying our “I Stand with Camden” image. All together, some 80 percent of the Camden faculty participated and made their feelings known. Our members later mobilized for the commencement for the Classes of 2020 and 2021 to celebrate students and stand up for their campus. This was the lead story at InsideHigherEd.com this morning.
To paraphrase the late Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, everything we do between now and the expiration of our contract—whether that’s in 2022 or 2023—needs to make us more united, build our power, and make us stronger.
Becky and Todd
Rebecca Givan, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Todd Wolfson, General Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
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