NJIT Adjunct Faculty Union Reaches First Agreement

CONTACT: Nat Bender, 908-377-0393, nbender [@] aftnj [.] org

Salary increases, professional development, opportunities for promotions key

NEWARK…New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) adjunct faculty reached a tentative agreement for their first union contract with the university, which promises to raise pay, create a grievance procedure and enhance professional development opportunities. Pay per credit would rise to a $1,500 minimum for the spring semester, which starts this month, and $1,550 for fall semester, which starts in September.

The pay increase moves NJIT adjunct faculty pay from being the lowest of four-year public universities in New Jersey to second-only to Rutgers. Adjunct faculty formed a union in May, joining their colleagues in the Rutgers American Association of University Professors – American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT) and reached this tentative accord on December 22. The 340-member local will have until January 12 to vote to approve the contract, which formally runs from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019, according to Rutgers AAUP-AFT Executive Director Patrick Nowlan.

Nowlan credited campus activism and multi-union support as essential to reaching agreement on the many valid concerns brought to the bargaining table by adjunct faculty members. “However, while the adjunct faculty are voting on a prospective deal, graduate workers and post-doctoral workers are still striving for a fair contract,” he said. NJIT graduate worker contract expired in 2015 and negotiations are continuing.

For the adjunct faculty unit, having Jeff Reaves, from the Newark College of Engineering, and Susan Bristol, from the College of Architecture and Design, representing adjunct faculty at the bargaining table was critical, according to Nowlan.

“This is historic because for the first time NJIT adjunct faculty have the same protections as many of the rest of our NJIT fellow workers,” said Reaves. “In addition to pay increases to put us in line with our colleagues at Rutgers and New Jersey public four-year colleges and universities, the agreement creates an internal process to apply for full-time lecturer positions. The new contract gives us better recognition as part of the NJIT community and creates new opportunities for adjunct faculty that will ultimately benefit our students.”

Architecture professor Susan Bristol said the agreement would create a professional development fund to reimburse expenses for adjunct faculty who travel and attend conferences or seminars. It recognizes academic advancement and protects academic freedom for adjunct faculty, she said. “This agreement is a significant improvement and we will continue negotiating over issues like long-term contracts for adjunct faculty, healthcare and career advancement,” said Bristol.

In addition to the new members at NJIT, more than 10,000 adjunct faculty members at Rutgers and all of New Jersey’s public four-year institutions and 10 community colleges are members of AFT New Jersey bargaining units, according to Donna M. Chiera, AFT New Jersey President. “Congratulations to NJIT adjunct faculty members on bargaining their first contract and welcome to AFT New Jersey. Adjunct faculty deserve the better opportunities and fair compensation that this agreements moves them towards,” said Chiera.

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AFT New Jersey represents 30,000 education workers in New Jersey and is the largest higher education union in the state. Learn more at www.aftnj.org. Rutgers AAUP-AFT represents full and part-time faculty, post-docs, graduate workers and EOF counselors. Learn more at www.rutgersaaup.org. United Council of Academics at NJIT (UCAN) represents 800 teaching assistants, research assistants, post-docs, research professionals and adjunct faculty at NJIT. Learn more at http://ucanaft.org.