Takeaway: Many of the layoffs of Writing Program PTLs have been rescinded, but we aren’t stopping there. Our Coalition members and allies will be speaking at the Board of Governors meeting today at 1 p.m. And this Friday, our arbitration case begins, where we challenge the university’s “fiscal emergency” declaration.
This week, we learned that management has reversed its blanket directive to not rehire any Part-Time Lecturers to teach in the Writing Program for the spring semester. As of Tuesday afternoon, we’ve learned that 26 of the 40 PTLs affected will get contracts to teach in the spring, starting with the most senior, and others will be rehired based on enrollment.
This isn’t a complete victory—the administration needs to commit to employing all of the Writing Program PTLs and to reversing the destructive layoffs of adjuncts this fall. But it’s an important step forward, and it happened because of our collective protests. PLTFC-AAUP-AFT led the response from the moment news of the layoffs hit, and our members took up the cause, along with other Coalition unions. Hopefully this will serve as a warning: management knows it will hear our raised voices if they try to fire other faculty and staff, so they will think twice in the future.
We aren’t stopping with this outcome. We will stand with PTLFC at the Board of Governors meeting today at 1 p.m. (you can watch here; the password is “GovernorsOct2020”) and demand that all PTL layoffs be reversed. The faculty petition to convene an emergency meeting of SAS in New Brunswick gathered enough signatures in a matter of hours; the meeting is scheduled for October 15 at 10 a.m. That’s our next stop in fighting the layoffs.
We have a lot more to say to the governors today: Management needs to also abandon plans for staff layoffs, like the “reorganization” scheme for admins in SAS NB that would lead to 15 to 20 jobs being lost. Our graduate students need the extension of funding and deadlines that we have been asking for since the start of the pandemic. The administration needs to respect and value every member of the “beloved community” President Holloway spoke of.
On Friday, our Coalition unions will begin arbitration over our raises that were canceled or frozen when the university claimed it was facing a “fiscal emergency.” Our case is simple: there are many emergencies in the world, but Rutgers’ finances is not one of them. The state budget fully restored nearly $100 million in threatened cuts in funding. The university’s “rainy day fund” of unrestricted reserves has actually grown during the pandemic by at least $58 million. Even management admits their previous budget deficit projection of over $200 million for 2020–21 is too high by a third (and that’s still inflated).
Rutgers has the money. There is simply no excuse for any measure taken in the name of “fiscal emergency.”
From the beginning, our Coalition has put forward a people-centered alternative. In the best traditions of the union movement, we are using our collective power to look out for everyone. In that spirit, our Coalition proposed to settle the arbitration case: we would accept a deferral of our raises until July 2021 in return for an iron-clad commitment to stop all layoffs as well as health care for already laid-off workers and a one-year extension for TAs and GAs affected by COVID-19. Management hasn’t answered our proposal; if they don’t by Friday, we will start the arbitration hearings.
We’ve witnessed the power of a united resistance—faculty, staff, and students together—to save jobs. Now we’ve got to save them all—and make management turn in a people-centered direction for the future.
Todd and Becky
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
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Find the latest messages to members and union statements here.
Read how Rutgers AAUP-AFT is confronting the crisis here.