Bargaining Update #8: Small Session

Bargaining Update: Wednesday, 12/14, 4:30-6 pm

Small Session 

Articles Discussed: 

Takeaways: 

After taking more than six months to respond to our salary proposal, the administration produced a deeply inadequate counterproposal. In a period of high inflation they proposed annual raises, delayed until January 2023, of just 2% for 95% of PTLs – effectively a sharp reduction in pay. They rejected our proposals for health care coverage.

This bargaining session dealt primarily with management’s counter to the union’s Article 4 proposal on salaries. The union presented its proposal in June and received management’s counter three hours before this bargaining session on 12/14. Because of the limited time to review it and some unclear parts of the counter, most of this session was devoted to questions and clarifications about the counter.

The session began with a brief discussion of when management will be making counters to other articles already presented to them. Their attorney David Cohen said they expected to present counters soon to Articles 5 “Grievances,” and 7 “Department Provisions.” On Article 7, he asked the union for clarification on what the union means by “office space” for adjuncts.

Discussion then moved to the main topic for this session, management’s counter to Article 4. Union Vice President Bryan Sacks asked Cohen to explain each part of their counter including the justifications for their proposed changes. Cohen replied that they saw their counter as a return to prior language with a few exceptions. Management’s counter removed all references to “Fractional NTTs” and replaced those with “PTLs” and restored most of the language to that of the previous contract. One difference was the proposed salary changes for most PTLs. There would be no raises for Fall 2022. Starting in Spring 2023, there would be annual raises of 2.25%, 2%, 2%, and 2%.

Cohen then described another section which he referred to as a “new concept” and a “different model.” Under this proposed section, PTLs who had taught six courses per year for each of the last three years would receive a new salary rate in Spring 2023 that would be 15% above the PTL1 minimum (followed by 2%, 2% and 2%).

He then discussed changes to other portions of their Article 4 counter. Parking for adjuncts would cost $25, up from the union’s proposal of zero and down from the current contract’s $28. He said they struck all the union’s proposals on health care because management just follows the state’s SHBP guidelines.

The union then asked to caucus to discuss the proposal. 

After returning to the session, union members asked several questions. One of the more important questions was where the 15% figure came from since they had verbally said earlier that they would be basing that raise on a proportion of full-time instructors’ pay. Cohen replied that they had considered several options and the 15% figure was just the “simplest” way to make calculations, thus erasing any illusions we might have had that they were opening the door to a “fractional pay” conversation.

Another question was on what the increase would be for current PTL2s and PTL3s who may already have higher salaries than the proposed 15% above the PTL1 minimum. Cohen said they needed to discuss and consider that question and would not commit to a particular interpretation. Cohen also said they did not know how many of the estimated 115 PTLs who would be affected were PTL2s or 3s. On several of the points raised by the union, Cohen said the union is free to make counters to any parts of their proposed article.

Union Secretary Howie Swerdloff then asked why management struck the proposed clause that both union and management would work with the state legislature on getting better healthcare provisions, saying there would be no cost to the university in doing so. Cohen said no, there are costs and “we need to stick to the current law.” Ryan Novosielski from HPAE added that management’s support for a legislative healthcare solution was sorely needed by all Rutgers’ unions.

Union board member Heather Pierce then answered Cohen’s earlier question about what the union meant by “office space.” She made clear that it meant the same as office space for full-time faculty and staff with sufficient privacy. 

There were no further questions or comments and the session ended early.

Positives: 

Hard to find any, but we did at least receive a response to our salary proposal. Perhaps now some discussion can begin on that central article. Some details of their proposal were clarified in the session, and others should be soon. 

Negatives: 

They struck everything new that we proposed. Instead, they are offering a pay cut. Their “new concept” would normalize the idea of PTLs working full-time for less than full-time compensation with no benefits. They also appeared to not have a clear idea of how their own proposal would affect current PTL2s and 3s.

What’s Next:

We need to reintroduce and reinforce our central demand for fractional appointments with job security, and the open bargaining session on Monday will be a good place to do that with as many as 75 adjuncts present. 

Next small bargaining session: (none scheduled)

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

In solidarity, 

Dan Sidorick

PTL, Labor Studies 

Executive Board Member, Rutgers Adjunct Union

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