Important Updates from Our December Town Hall

Last month, at our End-of-Semester Town Hall, we met with nearly one hundred PTLs to continue our efforts to build momentum for our contract campaign. Thank you to everyone who attended. It was our best turnout yet! If you missed it, here’s a recap of our meeting: 

Union president Amy Higer welcomed PTLs and reviewed what we want to win in our upcoming contract. She highlighted the historic contract that contingent faculty at the University of California (UC-AFT)  just won as an example—and inspiration—for what we could win at Rutgers. (You can learn more about what the UC adjunct faculty won here.) 

We also reviewed the results of our contract campaign survey. We heard from nearly 500 of you—a participation record! The results of the survey showed that our top three demands are job security and stability, pay parity (equal pay for equal work), and access to affordable health care coverage. Here are the survey’s takeaways:

  • Over 90% of you said that job security and long-term contracts were either “very important” or “somewhat important”
  • Getting healthcare coverage from Rutgers was important to 75% of those polled
  • A path to full-time employment was important to over 70% of respondents
  • Pay parity with full-time non-tenure-track faculty was important to over 90% of you
  • Finally, your additional concerns included timely appointment letters (85+%) and compensation for student advising, administering course sites, and other duties (80+%)

If you’re interested in reviewing the full results of our survey, you can do so here. (And, if you’re interested in researching adjunct faculty contracts that other unions have won, please consider joining our Research Committee! Learn more at this link.)

After addressing what we want to win in our next contract, we heard from our union’s Vice President, Bryan Sacks, who reviewed what we are up against: the Rutgers administration. 

Bryan reviewed a few key details that illuminate the current administration’s unresponsiveness to our union’s requests for urgent needs, including the empty promises that Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Prabhas Moghe have made about addressing the issue of “adjunctification” and fixing the problem of late appointment letters. Bryan also discussed Rutgers’ scandalous athletics debt (succinctly summarized in this series of graphs) and the firing of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in Camden after he pushed back against the chronic underfunding of that campus. He touched on the administration’s failure to provide adequate Covid testing and other protections throughout the pandemic, too. In the face of this administrations’ callousness and disregard, it becomes even more vital that we build our power so that we have a voice at the university on decisions that directly affect our health and safety.

To that end, we presented our members with a key proposition: Would you be interested in joining forces with the full-time/grad union in order to become one big faculty union? We then opened the floor to hear from our members. Here’s what you said:

What we stand to gain from a merger:

  • Increased bargaining power
  • Recognition by the administration 
  • More credible strike threat
  • Stronger alliance with our fellow educators
  • Increased capacity for mass mobilization 

However, questions remain, including:

  • How much representation will we have in a larger union?
  • As a minority within the union, how would we stand firm in our demands?

If we choose to move forward with this action, we will need significant member participation. We’ll need to collect roughly 900 signatures the good old-fashioned way—not electronically, but on paper—by April. We’ll need all hands on deck to get there! 

Is this possible? Yes. But the important thing is this: whether or not we decide as a workforce to pursue this merger, the signature campaign we would need to get there is the same kind of campaign we will need to win a stronger contract, and get the job security, pay parity, and health care coverage that we deserve. Now it’s up to all of us to make it happen.

Want to get involved? Join one of our committees: Organizing, Media, Research, or Negotiations, or volunteer to become a Department Liaison! You must be a union member to participate on a committee, so be sure to join if you haven’t already.

We look forward to organizing with you this spring!