News: NJ State College Faculty, Staff, Librarians Rally for Fair Contract

Simultaneous demonstrations on multiple campuses protest lack of progress

Tenure-track and adjunct faculty, lecturers, professional staff and librarians at nine states colleges and universities in the College Council rallied Wednesday to call for a fair contract from the state.   Tim Haresign, the President of the College Council, characterizes the major issues as fair pay for contingent faculty and ensuring quality higher education in the state of New Jersey.

“Our fight is about treating our lowest paid contingent faculty fairly,” said Haresign. “For adjunct faculty our demand is simple. We want equal pay for equal work.”

Haresign said that among full-time faculty, college presidents are attempting to create contingent teaching positions that can be poorly paid, have no job security, and have no means for salary advancement.  “We are not willing to allow that to happen,” he said. “Not only is it unfair to those teaching professionals, it hurts our students’ education to have a constantly changing pool of poorly paid, overworked full-time faculty.”

Haresign said the union is standing up for quality New Jersey public higher education. “Imagine a high-school where 50 percent of the teachers were temporary contract workers who might not return the next year,” he said. “Nobody would argue that such a situation would be good for students. That is the very scenario we are fighting to prevent at the state college and university level.”

The state College Council is the bargaining agent for 10,000 faculty, professional staff, and librarians at the nine state colleges and universities consisting of The College of New Jersey, Kean University, Montclair State University, New Jersey City University and the A. Harry Moore School, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Stockton University, Thomas Edison State University and William Paterson University. The group has been in contract negotiations since March with the State Office of Employee relations and the college presidents, but Haresign said talks are stuck on these issues.

Under Governor Murphy, multiple public sector unions have reached accords for their members, including settling unresolved contracts from the previous Governor.  

For full-time members the College Council is looking for economic terms that are similar to what the other state unions negotiated.  The major issue remains how the college presidents want to treat the lowest paid and most vulnerable workers.  

“We are standing up for quality higher education in New Jersey,” he said. “Our faculty and staff are on the campuses and classrooms every day working with students. We know our students are best served by a stable workforce with core faculty committed to their respective institutions.  The pay structure management is proposing will result in a very transient workforce, with little incentive to make long-term commitments to mentoring students and improving curriculum,” said Haresign.

Across the state, thousands faculty, staff and students joined the demonstrations to advocate for better higher education in New Jersey, Haresign said. “We still have the highest out-migration of high school graduates attending college out of state and we need investment in both infrastructure to accommodate students and personnel to work with them.”