Ahead of Barchi State Of Rutgers Speech,“Reclaim Rutgers” Releases Video & Holds Rally

(New Brunswick, NJ) – Today, on the eve of President Robert Barchi’s State of the University address, former Scarlet Knights football player and Rutgers alumnus Eric LeGrand released a video in support of Reclaim Rutgers – a dynamic coalition representing unionized workers in tough contract negotiations with management. Tomorrow, immediately before Barchi speaks, faculty, staff, students, alumni and other allies will hold a rally at 12:30 p.m. echoing LeGrand’s call for fair contracts.

You can view the LeGrand video at http://youtu.be/LcAel-IQfS8

“Just like in football, where everyone has a role to play, Rutgers succeeds because of its tremendous team of top-notch faculty and staff,” said Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed playing football for the university and credits faculty and staff with helping him graduate. ”I hope the University will do the right thing and get these hard-working men and women the fair pay and decent benefits they deserve and have earned.”

In the 30-second clip, LeGrand details how – through video calls, emails and phone calls – Rutgers workers assisted him in getting ahead in life. LeGrand often speaks about how he learned an enormous amount from his professors – many of whom went beyond the call of duty to help him succeed after he was severely injured and unable to attend classes.

Unions representing more than 20,000 workers are currently in contract talks with the university. Reclaim Rutgers and its allies are calling on Barchi and Rutgers to:

*Tackle student debt – by making tuition more affordable
*Respect faculty and staff – by bargaining in good faith for fair contracts immediately
*Restore public funding – by working with students, faculty, staff and the community to demand increased advocacy from management for more funding
*Focus on fundamentals. Teaching, research, service and patient care are all core parts of Rutgers mission. The university should stop diverting precious dollars from this core mission to subsidize athletics

“The very same week Rutgers guaranteed the football coach a $3.4 million raise, management offered faculty what amounts to a pay cut, while refusing to pay for library fees that amount to less than one-third the coach’s raise,” said Deepa Kumar, Associate Professor, Journalism and Media Studies. “This is a gross example of management’s skewed priorities.”

“Our members lost millions of dollars in pay from Rutgers ‘salary freezes’ between 2009 and now,” said Darlene Smith, Exec VP Union of Rutgers Administrators-AFT staff union. “On top of that, we’re paying thousands more each year to our health insurance and pension plans. As a result, we’re taking home less in our paychecks than we did in 2008. As a Rutgers alumna and long-time dedicated worker, I’m extremely disappointed with the hard-line that university management is taking in contract negotiations. We are taking action to reclaim Rutgers from management’s misplaced priorities.”

“As a result of the UMDNJ merger, Rutgers University’s mission now includes healthcare and depends on those professionals who provide cutting-edge research, community services and quality care to our communities,” said Bernie Gerard, VP of Health Professionals & Allied Employees (HPAE). “If Dr. Barchi wants Rutgers to be a premier healthcare university, he must provide the same support, resources and commitment to such care that he does to Big Ten Football. That means listening to the voices of the healthcare experts in our current contract negotiations and working conditions that will enable Rutgers to recruit and retain the best staff.”

Tomorrow at 12:30 pm – immediately before President Barchi’s Address to the University Senate – a large group of Rutgers faculty, staff, students, alumni and allies will join together at the College Avenue Student Center in New Brunswick. They will be speaking out in support of fair contracts. While Barchi talks about how the State of the University is strong, Reclaim Rutgers will make sure he’s reminded it is the faculty and staff who make Rutgers the top-notch institution that New Jersey deserves. Barchi and the Board of Governors should respect these workers and come to the bargaining table in good faith.

You can sign the Reclaim Rutgers petition at www.ReclaimRutgers.org. Additionally, you can follow @ReclaimRutgers on twitter, and like it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/reclaimrutgers. And, again, you can view the Eric LeGrand video at http://youtu.be/LcAel-IQfS8

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