Takeaway: The union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of five female colleagues to address pay inequity at Rutgers. To date, management has failed to complete even a single case of those who applied under the pay equity program in our contract. Instead, they hired the anti-union law firm Jackson Lewis to help them get around pay equity. Fully half a century after the late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her female colleagues at Newark filed a class-action lawsuit against Rutgers and won, our colleagues today are still fighting the same fight. Today at 1–2 p.m., some of these colleagues will be speaking out at a press conference; please watch the livestream at the union’s Facebook page.
Today, our union filed a lawsuit on behalf of five female faculty at Rutgers. Our contract with the pay equity provision went into effect July 1, 2019, yet to date, Rutgers has not settled a single case. We know that at least 130 people—almost certainly more, but management has refused to divulge the total number—have applied. They had nine months before the pandemic hit to fully and fairly implement our groundbreaking pay equity program, yet they failed to do so. (You can read the complaint here.)
We’re all proud of the pay equity program, and rightly so. It was a proposal for a contract provision that came out of the survey of all the members of the union; some 2,000 people ranked pay equity as a top priority. This program addresses not only inequities that affect women, people of color, and other oppressed groups but also inequities across the three campuses. In fact, any faculty member, tenured/tenure-track or non-tenure track, can apply for redress if they are not paid a salary commensurate with their peers. This program is unique in higher education, as far as we know. If we can get this program implemented, as it must be under our contract, we will be setting a precedent for our colleagues at colleges and universities across the United States. Rutgers will be a leader in the fight for equity.
Unsurprisingly, management has dragged its feet. Many deans reviewed the inequity claims and green-lighted salary adjustments, but nothing has happened higher up the chain. We only recently got a first hint of how management might implement the program, and it isn’t promising. The process of determining the existing pay gap is arbitrary and inconsistent, and management is floating a formula for adjustments that would only partially fill the gap.
Our colleagues who are plaintiffs are fighting not only for themselves but for economic justice for everyone. This is part of our people-centered alternative of standing together to look out for all of us.
We also find ourselves following in the footsteps of the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who more than 50 years ago was part of a class-action lawsuit against pay inequity that won a substantial settlement for women faculty at Rutgers-Newark. The university rightly celebrated her years teaching at Rutgers, when she first took on her pioneering role as an advocate for women’s equality. But guess what their articles fail to mention? That’s right: the class-action pay equity lawsuit against the university.
We are organizing a press conference for some of the plaintiffs to speak out. It will be today at 1 p.m., and we will livestream it on the union’s Facebook page. Please watch the press conference if you can and show your virtual support for our colleagues. There is an article on the case in the New York Times, and we’re expecting coverage in national news outlets; when you see these stories, share them on social media and get the word out.
Meanwhile, our colleagues in SAS in New Brunswick successfully forced an emergency meeting of the School to discuss and protest the threatened layoff of staff admins and the failure to rehire our PTL colleagues in the Writing Program and other departments. If you’re in SAS, please join us this morning from 10 a.m. to 12 noon so we can have the loudest possible voice against layoffs and cuts. Click here for the Zoom link; note that you will need to be logged into your Rutgers Zoom account to attend.
Todd and Becky
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rutgers AAUP-AFT Facebook page: https://facebook.com/RUaaup/
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Find the latest messages to members and union statements here.
Read how Rutgers AAUP-AFT is confronting the crisis here.