The URA bargaining team met with management Tuesday, March 12. We continue to focus our main efforts around job security, job advancement, pay equity and health insurance cost relief through variety of proposals. Rutgers continues to resist proposals that provide you with advancement in those areas. We have made some progress and continue to hold out for more improvements in those areas.
We have another bargaining session scheduled for Monday, March 18 so we will be back at the table. Major articles still on the table are Article 29 (Parking), Article 39 (Salary Adjustments), Article 41 (Salary Improvements), Article 55 (Vision Care), Family/Medical Leave, Health Benefits and Telecommuting.
We understand AFSCME is agreeing to a deal for their members so you will likely hear about that soon. While we respect other bargaining units’ decisions and hope their members are happy, we continue to negotiate over certain provisions that have not been addressed fully with other unions—such as the things listed above.
You may also hear that the AFSCME agreements included salary increases of 2.5% per year. It is important to note that their salary guides are structured differently and that the value of their total raises is higher than the 2.5% ATB portion announced.
While other unions have settled, Rutgers AAUP-AFT has launched a very public strike vote authorizing their leadership to conduct a strike if fair demands are not met. The strike is the strongest weapon workers collectively have–withholding our labor.
How will you support the URA-AFT Bargaining Team and the thousands of workers still without a contract at Rutgers? Come to our membership meeting Monday evening and campus lunchtime meetings to have your voices and ideas heard.
Salaries: Our most recent economic proposal from management would provide raises of 1.5%, 1.5%, 1.5% and 1.25%. That’s not enough. And neither is 3% if it means that we give a lot of givebacks in exchange—3% is not truly 3% with lots of strings attached. Rutgers continues to demand givebacks on sick leave, overtime rules and job security.
As we prepare our next counter proposal, we are keeping in mind that our members’ career-long earnings are often controlled by our starting salaries – and those are set too arbitrarily.
Other Rutgers unions have salary structures that reward years of effective service with movement toward the top of the pay scale, but some of us have been in our jobs for 10, 12 or more years, but are still below the midpoint of our grade. Our team are looking to provide salary equity and incentives to remain at Rutgers.
Cost of health insurance: Many of us actually lost take-home pay over the last few years because our pay went up slowly as our health insurance costs went up fast. Employee contributions to health insurance are back on the table this year.
While the governor is negotiating with state employees to reduce those costs, powerful interests like Senate President Sweeney in Trenton, and the pharmaceutical lobby in Washington push for increasing the cost of our medical and drug coverage.
The URA bargaining team is looking to protect us from another four years of declining real income. We will coordinate with sister unions at the state to make gains in this area and to save money through revamping the schedule of insurance premiums that we must pay.
Lots still on the table:
- Clear, fair FMLA policy.
- Telecommuting for the URA bargaining unit.
- Improved job security.
- Union protection for temporary workers.
- Time off for union stewards and reps to do their jobs.
- Protecting overtime rights.