Last week, the presidents of the three unions that represent faculty throughout the Rutgers University system announced plans to unite as One Faculty. We want to answer your questions about what this means for our union, Rutgers AAUP-AFT.
What is the goal of the One Faculty campaign?
The Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union, which represents Part-Time Lecturers, and AAUP-BHSNJ, which represents faculty at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences units across New Jersey, are organizing to merge into our contract. If successful, membership of our three unions would have a single contract covering all faculty and grad workers throughout Rutgers. The Adjunct Union and BHSNJ are getting members of their units to sign electronic cards indicating support for merging the contracts. (If you want to share a merger card with a PTL colleague, send them to this online form. Remember, this is for adjunct faculty to sign, not anyone already in Rutgers AAUP-AFT.)
Does that mean we would all be in one big merged union?
No, merging our contracts—so that all faculty are covered by a single agreement—is not the same thing as merging the three unions that currently represent faculty and grad workers. Our unions would still be governed separately, unless or until we all decide differently.
It might make sense to merge our unions, but the decision on merging unions (governance) would be made by our memberships after merging our contracts as one faculty. To do so, we would engage in extended discussions, between all three unions and within our own chapter, about how such a merged union would be organized, how representative leadership would be elected, etc. Members of all three unions would need to vote to approve plans for a single union.
What’s the rationale for merging all faculty under a single contract?
As the One Faculty statement says, our dedication to our mission of teaching, research, and service has been undermined by “job cuts, increased workloads without support, ever-larger class sizes, increasing precarity, canceled raises, and disrespect.” One big reason the administration can get away with this is because Rutgers faculty are covered by three different contracts. Addressing all of these issues as one faculty is also better for our students and patients.
As our union banner says, “An injury to one is an injury to all.” When adjunct faculty are underpaid, denied health insurance, and treated as disposable, it gives management a tool to undermine the conditions, pay, and benefits of full-time faculty. When medical faculty face attacks on their tenure rights, it sets the stage for attacks on our tenure. If we can merge all faculty under a single contract, we will have the power of numbers, unity, and solidarity to confront these threats.
Will we bargain together for our next contract?
We already work very closely with the Adjunct Union and BHSNJ in negotiations with the administration. During bargaining for our current contracts, we sat at each other’s bargaining tables, and we collaborate regularly within the Coalition of Rutgers Unions (CRU). The bargaining committees and organizing teams for all three unions are already meeting and working together. We have to work together throughout the contract campaign, whether we are one, two, or three bargaining tables, or we won’t win our demands.
As our union develops our contract campaign, we will put forward demands that are critical to our adjunct and RBHS colleagues—see the final slide in this presentation at the “What R We Fighting For?’ town hall. For now, we will put these demands forward jointly at each bargaining table, working in solidarity across our unions. If we’re able to organize sufficiently that we can merge our bargaining tables, they would become demands for a new, single contract.
Why are we doing this now?
We can use the contract campaign this semester to advance the effort to unite faculty under one contract. But this isn’t just about the short term: We are taking a necessary step toward our vision of the Rutgers we want to see, where faculty, staff, students, and our communities work collectively to reimagine the public university for the 21st century.
This is a long-term project that won’t be finished by the end of this semester. By launching this campaign to become One Faculty now, we are coming together across locals and building the kind of power we’ll need—in both the here and now and in the struggle ahead for the Rutgers we all deserve.