FAQ on AAUP-AFT Merger Campaign
1. What does it mean to merge the PTL union with the full-time faculty/grad union? How will it differ from having two unions?
The plan is not to just merge unions but to merge bargaining units. Since we are all essentially doing the same work, we should bargain as one faculty. That means Rutgers will have to negotiate one contract with all the faculty at Rutgers, including PTLs. The combined bargaining power of the merged units will align our shared interests and provide strength in numbers to win a better contract for all at Rutgers. Simply put, we are stronger together.
2. What is a “bargaining unit”?
For purposes of the card campaign (and this is a little bit complicated!), our bargaining unit consists of all PTLs (union members and non-members) who are teaching spring semester 2022 or who taught in Fall 2021 if that was at least their second semester of teaching at Rutgers, and who express an interest in teaching again next year.
3. What is a card campaign, and how does it work?
A card campaign is essentially an election in which workers cast a vote to join a union. Under NJ labor law, if a majority (50% plus 1) of employees in a bargaining unit sign cards to join another bargaining unit, a state agency called the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) will certify the new union as the representative for the combined unit. Before going to PERC, the unions can ask Rutgers to honor the wishes of its employees and simply agree to the merged bargaining units. We must complete the card campaign by the end of spring semester 2022 as our bargaining unit changes each semester.
4. If I sign a union merger card, does it mean I will no longer be represented by the Rutgers PTL union?
No. Signing the card does not immediately change anyone’s status at Rutgers. If and only if enough cards are signed, the cards are presented to management and/or PERC and the process enters its next phase. You will maintain your status as a union member, or a worker represented, unless, or until, the merger process is complete.
5. If I sign a union merger card, and the union gets 50% plus 1 workers from our bargaining unit to sign, does the next phase of the process automatically kick in?
No. The Unions must affirmatively take the next step and present the cards to Rutgers and/or PERC. The union can at any time halt the process until the merger is completed.
6. How will a merger affect my job as a PTL?
There will be no immediate change to your job as a PTL. Our hope is that the combined power of the merged units can help PTLs win better wages, increased job protections, and improved and additional benefits. The FT/grad union is politically powerful and well-resourced. PTLs and full-time faculty/grads have shared interests, and NTTs and grads are also contingent. Contingency is a threat to the security of tenured faculty, too.
7. Will my union dues increase?
No! If a merger is approved, our dues, which are now 1.25% of our paychecks, will align with the full-time/grad union, and be reduced to 1% of our paychecks. PTL dues will go to the full-time/grad faculty union, rather than a separate PTL union.
8. What will happen to the Rutgers PTL union if we merge?
If we complete the merger process, the PTL union as an autonomous bargaining unit will formally dissolve. We will work together with the full-time faculty/grad union to write new bylaws that formally give our members a voice and representation in the larger union.
9. What representation will PTLs have within the combined union? How will we ensure that PTL concerns are addressed within the combined union?
The structure of a merged union hasn’t been determined yet, but we will push for full and robust representation. This includes membership on the Executive Council under the same formula as full-time faculty: a PTL Vice President, a vice chair of the Bargaining Committee, plus another member of that committee. We should expect our representation to be proportional to our numbers, similar to the way NTTs, grads and TAs are represented now. PTL members can continue to meet regularly on our own within the new structure. The leadership of the FT/grad union has expressed its strong support for our demands, but we will still need to continue to organize for a democratic, member-led union like we have developed within the current PTL structure. We will need to work with other constituencies in the larger union, to build coalitions around common issues with NTTs and grads, and to educate the full-time faculty about the issues of importance to PTLs, and how they affect the quality of education of the university.
11. What happens if Rutgers rejects the PTL Union’s demand for a merger?
Rutgers can challenge the legitimacy of this merger, and this could delay the process. If the University challenges the merger, our union, in conjunction with the full-time faculty/grad union, will need to mount a pressure campaign to get the University to recognize the will of its workers. Our union can also file a petition for a card check with PERC and request a ruling on any obstacles the University may seek to place in our way.