Bargaining Update #7

Bargaining Update: Monday, 12/5, 4-6 pm

Small Session 

Articles Discussed: 

  • Article 5 
  • Article 11 
  • Article 4

Takeaways: 

Our bargaining team discussed a number of articles and issues in our small session, for most of which the university provided limited responses. 

The session began with a discussion of future bargaining dates, with the administration pushing to hold future bargaining sessions in person. Administration claimed that their caucus time would be streamlined and some version control issues might be alleviated if sessions were to happen in person. 

Union secretary Howie Swerdloff presented a revised Article 5 on grievance procedures, which contained updated language that aligns closely with the full-time faculty/grad union. The proposal created two categories of grievance, just as there are for the full-time/grad union. Grievances over issues such as wages and hours are legally in a category known as “mandatorily negotiable” and we want arbitration for those to be legally binding, while for grievances in the other “non-mandatory” category, arbitrator’s decisions would only be advisory. Now, none of our grievances are subject to binding arbitration, making our contract hard to enforce. Howie asked David Cohen and the administration directly why PTLs should be treated differently than other faculty when it came to grievances. After a prolonged silence, the administration’s response was that the PTLs were the ones requesting a change in our contract, so we must prove that such a change was needed. 

Next, union vice-president Bryan Sacks presented an updated proposal for Article 11 on the professional development fund. Bryan explained that the new proposed language is designed to ensure PTLs have access to the professional development money allotted to us and that the money is distributed in an equitable fashion across departments and campuses. The administration had some questions about the verbiage and the amount of money requested, to which Bryan pointed out that the current allotment only amounts to about $30 per PTL, which is why the union is requesting a much larger investment in PTL development. 

Finally, the bargaining session ended with the administration informing the bargaining team that they were preparing to make an offer on salary and that the union would receive that offer prior to our next small session on December 14. Though the administration sketched a brief outline of what this offer might include, the bargaining team is awaiting the full, written offer before reaching out to members to discuss a response. 

Positives: 

Due to a productive discussion with administration, the bargaining team was able to hammer out several details in Article 11 on our professional development fund, coming closer to an agreement for parts of that article. Additionally, the administration’s promise to send a counter to our Article 4 proposal on salary is a positive development, as in previous sessions they had been unwilling to commit to a date when they would respond. Finally, the administration also indicated that they were prepared to send a counter to Article 8 on personnel files in the near future. 

Negatives: 

The administration spent much of the first few minutes of the bargaining session complaining about how they were portrayed in our previous bargaining updates, and used those complaints, along with claims about unfounded version control issues, to push for future bargaining sessions to be held in person, which would cut off access and reduce bargaining visibility for many of our members. They also appeared resistant to updating the grievance procedure in Article 5 to be more closely aligned with the full-time faculty/grad union because they believe the status quo — our current contract, which does not grant us the same rights as full-time faculty — is acceptable. 

What’s Next:

The pressure we have been putting on the administration appears to be having an effect. Let’s keep it up at the next meetings to have our demands addressed! 

Next small bargaining session: Wednesday, 12/14, 4-6 pm

Next large bargaining session: Monday, 12/19, 4-6 pm. Sign up to join us here! 

In solidarity, 

Caitlin Carroll Dudek 

PTL, Writing Program 

Vice President for Newark, Rutgers Adjunct Union