Bargaining Update #12: Large Session

2/15/2023 Large Bargaining Session

Rutgers Adjunct Union member James Robinson, who teaches in the New Brunswick Labor Studies program, wrote these notes on the “large open” session this past Wednesday, February 15, 2023. We invite members to be notetakers at future sessions.

Management’s counter’s on 6, 8, and 11:

Article 6 – Appointments

Article 8 – Personnel Files

Article 11 – Professional Development 


  • Twenty-four hours before the scheduled session, after we had already submitted our list of attendees, management threatened to cancel the large bargaining session due to the number of attendees. Over the course of a few hours, our team was able to get them back to the original agreement, though the session was delayed to 11am from its original 10 am time slot. Management sent us their counters to Articles 6 (Appointments), 8 (Personnel Files), and 11 (Professional Development) late the night before. In Article 6, which deals with job security, timeliness of appointment letters, and job security for longer working adjuncts, they simply deleted our proposal instead of striking it as they usually do, and they reverted to the 2018-22 contract language.  
  • Bryan Sacks, our lead negotiator, opened the session noting management’s behavior with regards to Article 6. He compared the absence of any explanation for their counterproposal to the absence of our job security as PTLs. 
  • Heather Pierce presented our proposal for Article 7 (Departmental Provisions), about how PTLs don’t have space to work with students in a lot of departments. This could be a violation of student privacy concerns (FERPA) when PTLs are forced to meet with students in public spaces. She also complained about the need to carry sometimes heavy loads of papers and supplies around. For the sake of our students, Rutgers needs to incentivize departments to give us some sort of working space. Management said there is limited space and that this is a resource issue. However, as Pierce argued, PTLs don’t require private offices, just secure spaces to meet with students and store files. The exchange left a sense that management may be open to accepting a wording change from “office” space to “access to secure space” or something similar. 
  • On our Professional Development Fund proposal, management sought to cap the funds provided by citing the average in the past was $1000 a grant. But we argue that “averages” are misleading. Many past grants were under $1000, meaning others were larger. So why impose a limit? The university will still control the process. We were also at odds over the issue of fronting money 120 days in advance for approved professional development activities in the future. Many PTLs may not be able to afford to attend conferences or participate in professional development if they have to pay the full cost themselves before being reimbursed.
  • After returning from caucus, we tried to bring the discussion back to the issue of job security and appointments in Article 6. What did management object to in our proposal for earlier appointment letters, and longer and more secure appointments? Management said that it simply came down to the fact that they see this article as being tied to our Article 4 demand for Fractional Appointments, a concept that they outright reject. Being “fractional NTTs” and gaining “fractional appointments” means, in the narrowest sense, that we would be paid equally for doing the same work that full-time NTTs do. As we are using it in Article 4, fractional appointments refer to equal pay.  But management rejected out of hand any and all of our language in Article 6, which is about job security, because it can be tied to fractional appointments instead of being treated as a severable issue. When this was pointed out to them, they appeared to back off a bit and we assured them we would return to this issue for discussion at our next session. In no way are we committed to severing the issues of equal pay and job security, but in our view that should not preclude discussion of these issues separately.
  • On timely appointment letters, management’s lead negotiator said that the university has been trying to communicate to deans to encourage them to get the appointment letters out faster to PTLs. We communicated  that “encouraged” isn’t strong enough and departments may need more incentive to get us appointment letters for the following semester at least 3 months ahead of time. This accounts for our inclusion of a fee to be paid to PTLs should appointment letters arrive after our suggested deadline for them.
  • We ran out of time when it came to discussing the proposal of elevation of PTLs by rank as most universities do based on seniority. We will bring that up again, and will continue trying to get management to give us something substantive to negotiate over, at our next  small session on Monday, February 20 at noon.


  • There seemed to be some movement on the issue of office space and the Professional Development Fund.
  • Our negotiating team asked pointed questions to the management lawyers that kept them focused on the real issues around low pay, precarity, and lack of respect for instructors who teach almost a third of Rutgers classes. 
  • More strong rank and file attendance, almost 50 in attendance on Zoom, in addition to our core negotiating team in-person. Afterwards, we discussed how important it was to discuss these issues with our students so that they will be prepared for a possible work stoppage.


  • Despite having months to respond, management continues to offer counter proposals at the last minute, giving our team little time to prepare
  • Management attempted to cancel the open bargaining session just hours before the session.
  • Management refuses to address the Fractional NTT concept, rejecting it out of hand and throwing out anything associated with it.
  • Afterwards, when asked to comment on a session, a rank-and-file member responded that “they’re almost daring us to strike.”


In Solidarity, 

James Robinson, PTL, SMLR