We’re asking all of you who live in New Jersey to call your state legislators today and urge them to vote “yes” on the Responsible Collective Negotiations Act when it comes to a vote on Thursday. Click here to find out how to call state legislators. If you don’t live in New Jersey, call Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin’s office at (732) 855-7441 and voice your support for this important legislation.
The Responsible Collective Negotiations Act (S-3810/A-5862) would allow public sector unions like ours to expand the scope of bargaining, so we can better address our people-centered priorities and advocate for our students, for all workers in the university, and for ourselves. It would also stop public employers like Rutgers from being able to impose their version of a contract unilaterally by declaring an “impasse” in bargaining—a concern that held up negotiations for our postdoc colleagues for two years, leading to them working under a substandard contract until just this month. The bill also contains other provisions, such as allowing electronic signatures on union authorization forms, that would benefit all public sector unions. See the suggested call script at the bottom of this email and please call your legislators today.
This is common-sense legislation that simply levels the playing field in public sector negotiations. But at a state Assembly Budget Committee hearing yesterday, we saw what we’re up against. Rutgers dispatched two top administrators from the General Counsel’s office and the Finance office to testify against the bill. In an echo of the anti-union propaganda of the Robert Barchi administration under former governor Chris Christie, they distorted the contents of the bill and complained that its provisions to expand the scope of bargaining “could paralyze labor relations, compromise university missions, and have a significant impact on students.” Help us prepare for our next negotiations by making your calls today.
As our union’s executive director, Patrick Nowlan, testified in response, S-3810/A-5862 would “level the playing field. It doesn’t require management to say yes to anything. It requires them to bargain in good faith over issues.”
We were outraged when Rutgers’ lawyer claimed that the legislation would result in a “fiscal degradation of Rutgers” that “could be borne on students’ backs, in the form of increased tuition costs, increased fees, and similar increased costs.” This is an anti-union lie straight out of the Barchi/Christie playbook—and it flies in the face of our unions’ consistent advocacy for and alliances with students against the administration’s austerity policies. Our future campaigns require your action today.
Why is Rutgers being represented in Trenton by anti-union lawyers and accountants in this new era of President Jonathan Holloway, who often says that labor and management need to find common ground and recognize that we often share the same goals? We hope President Holloway listens to his team’s testimony and changes the university’s attitude on this legislation and in their future relationship with our 20,000 union members at Rutgers. Regardless, your action today will strengthen our next negotiations.
It’s important that we don’t let anti-labor opposition defeat the Responsible Collective Negotiations Act. Our legislators need to hear from us that we support this further advance in workplace democracy and justice—by giving our unions more tools to make Rutgers a better workplace and university for all of us. Please click here to call your legislators.
Suggested call script:
Hi, my name is ________ and I live in [Name of City]. I’m a [Job Title] at Rutgers University, and I am calling about the “Responsible Collective Negotiations Act,” which would encourage good-faith bargaining in the public sector by leveling the playing field. I am asking that Senator/Assembly Member ___________ vote “YES” on S-3810/A-5862.
Todd and Becky
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
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