Large staff groups and medical school faculty remain without contracts
NEW BRUNSWICK…A tentative agreement between Rutgers University management and the largest faculty union requires that a financial emergency exists before the university can cancel raises, which has been a sticking point since increases were unilaterally frozen in 2010. This agreement applies to nearly 4,700 members of the Rutgers University American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT), including graduate and teaching assistants. Union leaders are hopeful key provisions of the deal will apply to all of the 20,000 workers represented by unions at Rutgers.
Several of the large unions working towards an agreement represent administrative and professional staff at the university who have been without contracts since last year. Meanwhile, medical school faculty and librarians who merged into Rutgers from UMDNJ have been without contracts or raises for nearly six years. “We call upon the University to agree to fair wages, raises, and job security terms that our colleagues require to continue to provide their excellent services,” said Rutgers AAUP-AFT President Lisa Klein, a professor of Material Sciences in the School of Engineering.
More than 1,400 faculty members and librarians who became part of Rutgers with the UMDNJ merger have not had a raise in almost six years, according to American Association of University Professors-Biomedical and Health Sciences New Jersey (AAUP-BHSNJ) Executive Director Ilyssa DeCasperis. “Rutgers management needs to appreciate the value of our members’ critical role in medical research, serving our community and training tomorrow’s healthcare professionals,” DeCasperis said. “With the addition of the medical schools, the university as a whole took a great leap forward, but our members lack numerous key contractual benefits their academic colleagues have at Rutgers.”
“All Rutgers workers need to know that negotiated raises will be honored,” said Lucye Millerand, President of the Union of Rutgers Administrators-AFT, which represents more than 2,300 workers with job titles ranging from Administrative Assistants to Assistant Deans. “We believe the language AAUP-AFT negotiated provides that and we will demand that it be included in our agreement to guarantee equal treatment with the faculty.” Millerand added that negotiations have thus far produced progress on some important issues, such as keeping the tuition remission benefits for members and dependent children; a shorter probationary period for new workers and improvements to the grievance process for member of the URA-AFT local.
“Congratulations to the AAUP-AFT in settling their contract and working out ‘subject to’ language that both sides can live with,” said Kathy Hernandez, Executive Vice President of CWA Local 1031, which represents 400 workers at Rutgers. “We hope that Rutgers will negotiate with the unions who have not yet settled in the same manner. Rutgers must realize that all workers want to be treated equitably. We look foreword to reaching a fair settlement.”
“We are encouraged by the agreement won by the Rutgers AAUP-AFT faculty and we are proud to be part of the coalition that helped make it possible,” said Tom Murphy, Co-President, Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE)-AFT Local 5094. “The 2,500 hard-working professionals and nurses who became Rutgers employees during the reorganization with UMDNJ deserve that same commitment from Rutgers. We need a contract that both recognizes our value to the University and brings us in alignment with faculty and other staff.”
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 74 President Richard Pinto called for fairness from the University for the officers who currently safeguard the campuses. Pinto is a 28-year public safety officer and worked for UMDNJ until the group merged with Rutgers. “The FOP calls on Rutgers management to do the right thing by putting the police and all workers who have the same jobs at the same rate of pay,” said Pinto. “They cannot continue negotiating with us as if we are still two separate universities.”