Nov. 18, 2022
Counters on Article 5 and 11
Takeaways: “Another One of Management’s Mismanagement of Their Own Schedule”
- This was our first session since management’s negotiations team unilaterally canceled all future bargaining sessions in August. While negotiating over the summer, our sessions featured an “open” registration in which any union member upon request as well as invited guests could attend bargaining sessions. Even though these sessions were entirely orderly and professional, management refused to continue bargaining under these arrangements, finally agreeing to return to the table only if we would hold alternating small/large attendance sessions. For our small sessions we agreed to have 18 participants. Our first session back was originally scheduled to be a small session on Monday, November 7, 4 to 6pm. Management then requested that we reschedule to Friday, November 11, 10 to 1130am to accommodate them, which we accepted. Two days prior to this first meeting management canceled the meeting, claiming the rescheduled time no longer worked for them. Having not had a negotiating session in over two months (and having a contract that expired on June 30!), the Union demanded that canceling this session was unacceptable, and that every effort be made to find another time. Management proposed Friday, November 18, 4 to 6pm, which the Union accepted. On the morning of November 18, management requested that the meeting instead start at 430pm to address a personal issue with a member of their negotiating team, but that they still needed to end the session at 6pm.
- In his opening statement VP Bryan Sacks said “ we come here in the spirit of honest exchange and with a strong willingness to meaningfully address our members’ contractual concerns.”
- Union Secretary Howie Swerdloff addressed the failure of management to negotiate our key demand for equal pay for equal work (aka “fractional pay”), expressing hope the other side would do so in the next session Monday. He said, “As you can readily see from the headlines, the current arrangements in higher education –where the cheap, insecure labor of adjuncts, grads, and non-tenure track faculty underpins the system–are unsustainable. In fact, as we speak, in the California state system alone there are tens of thousands of academic workers on strike against these arrangements. We at Rutgers shouldn’t go on with this continual tit-for-tat where your side strikes any mention of fractional pay, followed by our side restoring it. Let’s negotiate…instead.”
- AAUP-AFT Contract Enforcement Officer Damon Fillman presented the Union’s counter on Article 5 concerning grievances. Under the current contract, PTLs only have access to an “advisory” process to address grievances. Damon argued that it is standard procedure for a CBA to also have an option for a binding arbitration process. Damon contended that without such a course, the Union lacks a mechanism to enforce its contract!
- PTL Union Vice-President Bryan Sacks and Executive Board Representative Heather Pierce next presented the Union’s counter on Article 11 concerning the Professional Development Fund. Bryan and Heather contended that the size of the fund should run something in the neighborhood of $100 per PTL, and the distribution of the funds must be governed by a central oversight committee so as to prevent misunderstandings PTLs being denied access to the funds by local administrators (Deans and Chairs) who may not understand the nature of the fund. This demand is the result of the Union discovering that numerous PTLs had previous requests for funds denied based on just such misunderstandings.
- Management called for a caucus to discuss our counters. The caucus lasted for 35 minutes, or just under 40% of the actual time allotted for bargaining.
- Upon returning from caucus, discussion between management and the Union centered on potentially misleading language in the two articles. Management agreed that having a central oversight committee regarding the PTL Professional Development fund was proper, but also contended that one is already in place. The Union offered to reword our counter to Article 11 to see if we could reach a tentative agreement in light of management’s assertions.
- The session closed with the Union reminding management that we still have not received counters on the articles dealing with salaries and appointments, both of which were presented at our open bargaining sessions over the summer. Management has been in possession of these proposed articles for over 5 months and we still have not received a counter. Although the Union had prepared to present counters to two additional articles at this session, because of the truncated bargaining session to accommodate management’s schedule and the protracted caucus that management called, the session ended without time to address the Union’s further counters.
- Article 11 on the Professional Development Fund seems to be inching closer to a tentative agreement.
- Management agreed that the negotiating tactic of simply crossing out new proposed language (the tactic that they have employed thus far in negotiations) is unproductive, and that they are attempting to work on a proposal that addresses our significant demands.
- Little progress was made during the session on Article 5 concerning grievances. Management disagreed with the Union’s interpretation of the existing language, but no substantive definitional changes were agreed to.
- Although Article 11 is progressing, an outstanding issue still remains over the question of whether PTLs should be paid for attending pedagogy workshops. The Union contends that attendance is a professional activity and should be remunerated as such. Management disagrees.
- No substantive progress has been made on the major articles of our proposal concerning wages and appointment.
Austin Rooney, Executive Board Representative for Camden, PTLFC-AAUP-AFT