The Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union is seeking input from members on a possible merger with the full-time/graduate/non-tenure-track academic union (Rutgers AAUP-AFT).
Should our union agree to pursue such a merger, we would have a single contract and bargain together. Because full-time faculty have the most clout with Rutgers administration—and plentiful resources—bargaining together as one faculty would be the most effective way to win our transformative demands for pay parity, job security, and healthcare coverage. Adjuncts around the country who have recently won significant contract gains, like the California State schools, have been organized in joint unions that include both full-time and contingent faculty.
The process, however, is a difficult one. Any merger would need 50 percent of PTLs in our bargaining unit during any one term, plus 1 PTL, to physically sign cards indicating that they want to merge in order for it to be approved. This would need to happen quickly, before the semester ends and the cohort changes in the fall. These cards would then be presented to the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC). The university could and probably would contest our merger, and use legal and other delaying tactics to stop us from succeeding. That’s why we will need to have enough clout to win their acquiescence at the bargaining table.
The merger was discussed at the December Town Hall, with members expressing both support and concern for the move. Those supporting the merger said it would help create a sense of campus-wide unity among all instructors, who would then be bargaining in concert and with greater numbers, enhancing our power.
Members concerned about the potential merger most frequently cited a potential loss of voice and/or identity as their cause for hesitation. In addition, such members felt there is a chance such a merger may dilute our union’s current power within the larger body, leaving us in a minority-voting position on issues of concern primarily to us.
Such members feared a potential loss of clout, dilution of power, and erasure of our identity, because we have smaller numbers, more churn, and a less active membership, which some members said could leave us in a minority-voting position on issues of concern primarily to us, and when potential conflicts between our interests and those of full-time faculty arise.
Whether members attending the December Town Hall were for or against the potential merger (or had not yet formed an opinion), nearly all agreed that before the merger can move forward our concerns need to be addressed and structures agreed to ensure our voices will be heard and issues properly considered. The adjunct union is committed to addressing these concerns and keeping members informed and involved as the process moves forward in the coming months.
If you’d like to share your thoughts or ideas on the merger, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.