We had a 2-hour bargaining session on Friday morning, Jan. 27. Here are 3 takeaways.
- The administration refused to answer our question about whether PTLs do equal work to non-tenure track faculty (we do, as Julie Flynn testified–see below), and refused to even acknowledge this fundamental civil rights principle.
- The administration did acknowledge that our proposal for equal pay is tied to our proposal for job security. Yet, they have not provided a counter to our job security proposal for multi-year appointments that we sent to them over 7 months ago.
- It is clear to us that we will not make progress at the bargaining table until we increase our power outside the bargaining table. Please sign our strike pledge card today!
- Howie Swerdloff opened the meeting with remarks on our salary compensation proposal (Article 4), based on the concept of “equal pay for equal work”. He pointed out the university’s unwillingness to bargain seriously, summarizing their counter-proposal as: “You offered us no salary increases for the fall 2022 semester and 2.25%, 2%, 2%, and 2% for the remaining 2 ½ years, while also postponing every annual raise from every July 1 to an indeterminate date in the following spring semester. Accordingly, the final raise would be moved from July 1, 2025 to in spring 2026.”
- Howie also proposed the use of neutral terminology, “negotiations unit member” to facilitate ongoing negotiations, while not conceding anything about fractional NTT status for PTLs. He then summarized the key demands of Article 4, seen here (under “Equal Pay for Equal Work”). He then called on NTT (and former PTL) Julie Flynn to refute the administration’s contention that NTTs and PTLs do distinct jobs.
- Seven union members provided their personal testimonies as to the effects of the pay disparity on PTLs. They also referenced different strike actions around the country, resulting in different universities’ decisions to implement Covid relief funds, and accept contract proposals that are more favorable to adjuncts. This was highlighted as a crucial component to building an inclusive and supportive community at Rutgers.
- Julie Flynn, of the NB Writing Program, explained the difference in her circumstances now as an NTT compared to when she was a PTL before. She expressed that as an NTT she was doing the “same work” she did as a PTL with the only difference “being paid a living wage.”
- Austin Rooney (Camden, Philosophy) identified last October’s NJ Senate Resolution, which called on Rutgers to lead a cultural charge by changing the way that adjuncts are treated by the university. In short, Rutgers has been asked to take action and ensure that PTLs working at Rutgers will be able to secure multiple demands related to equal pay for equal work, healthcare and priority in reappointment.
- Dan Sidorick (NB, Labor Studies) cited the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and posed the question of whether the admin’s chief negotiator, David Cohen, believes in “equal pay for equal work” as a moral principle.
- Notable changes in the role of adjuncts over time were discussed by Hank Kalet (NB, Journalism). He noted that these teachers were seasoned professionals in other fields, hired to guide students, but that recently, “Adjuncts provide cheap labor,” even though “We provide students with the same world-class education as our peers.” Hank called on Rutgers to to lead the way by changing how adjuncts are treated by the university.
- Caitlin Dudek (Newark, Writing Program) noted that the current treatment of PTLs is not sustainable. She referenced the New School, among others, for the gains adjuncts recently won there in the areas of job security and pay parity.
- Godyson Orji (Newark, Health Administration) highlighted that benefits for adjuncts would also be in the best interests of the university. He made note of NYU, which offered recognition of adjunct’s services in the form of $2,000 of Covid relief. Adjuncts also won health benefits and substantial raises. The contracts at these institutions are more sustainable then what is being offered at Rutgers.
- Bryan Sacks (NB and Camden, Philosophy) spoke about the moral necessities of “equal pay for equal work”. He noted that in 2013/14, the disparity of payment between NTTs and PTLs was only 4-9%. This demonstrates how the recent salary gap represents a significant change in the way Rutgers values its PTLs. Rutgers’ financial position has grown from $580 million to more than $800 million in unrestricted reserves. Despite President Holloway’s claims to the contrary, the funds to provide pay parity exist; the union’s asks present “no undue burden” to the university.
- Following their long caucus, when asked what they discussed, management pointed out a typo in the union’s Article 4 submission. Howie Swerdloff replied that he intends to rectify this.
- Management also asked for further clarification on the proposed health care options. Bryan addressed this by highlighting that the discussion of healthcare benefits and job security are connected to Article 6, which still requires a counter and noted that the administration’s counter proposals for both Articles 6, which corresponds directly with Article 4, and 9 are outstanding for months now (seven months in the case of Article 6).
- In response to the charge that our proposals differ greatly from the NTT contract Howie Swerdloff requested that the administration view our articles and evaluate our articles holistically, as previously noted by Caitlin, and that if they were to propose that we utilize the exact language from the NTT contract we would be happy to consider that.
- PTLs and NTTs continue to be treated as if they do different jobs. This is based on the university’s blatant refusal to define the difference between the roles, except that they vaguely claim that NTTs do “service” and PTLs do not.
- There have been no counter proposals from the other side for Articles 6 and 9
- We are still lacking co-host privileges for the zoom sessions, and it is imperative that we receive them so we can monitor the waiting room and also ensure our side remains on mute, with cameras on and orderly.
- There were 50 members in attendance for the large bargaining meeting
- Dan Sidorick posed the question of whether management believes in “equal pay for equal work” as a moral principle, which the administration continues to dodge answering.
- Maintaining transparent bargaining remains a high priority for the union.
- We continue to press for hybrid in-person/Zoom meetings and additional dates.
Bird Jackson, PTL, Writing Program, Newark