We received an email communication from Michael Gower, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration and University Treasurer, that the University is invoking the “subject to” language in our contract and are declaring a fiscal emergency to take effect July 1, 2020.
What does this mean for us?
Immediately, they are sharing that they intend to withhold the 3% salary increases that we have negotiated in our contract for July 1, 2020. Though they have provided some rationale why they are taking this action, we are not satisfied with what they shared and will be demanding additional financial documents shortly.
We will also demand to negotiate over alternative steps that they can take to address the fiscal emergency. Please review Appendix G in our contract for the protections that were negotiated for just this situation. For those who were here in 2008, this is reminiscent of the salary freeze that they took and then, as now, we allege there is no emergency. We fought then and we will fight them now.
In lieu of taking this action, the University had other choices. The Coalition of Rutgers Unions had put a proposal on the table that would have saved Rutgers $100 million dollars in payroll costs with shared sacrifice from everyone, including all the top administrators. These are the same top administrators that have given themselves raises of over 20% over the past 3 years. These same people gave themselves over $5 million dollars in bonuses just last year. Now, during a global pandemic and historic protests that highlight racial and economic disparity are happening every day, they choose to declare a fiscal emergency to withhold the raises that took over 15 months to negotiate in one fell swoop.
As they invoke the “subject to” language, they have simultaneously begun mass layoffs of our members.
What can we do?
I ask all of us to reach out to your local legislators, State Assembly people and State Senators, mayors and council people, prominent alumni, everyone that could influence Rutgers to do the right thing. Have your friends and family reach out, too. We must inform those who we have elected that our contribution to Rutgers is vital to operations and that #weRnotdisposable.
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Talking Points for a call to your legislators about Rutgers mass layoffs and salary freeze
- May I speak with ____?
- When can I speak with them?
- Can you get them my message?
- My name is __ I live in (town). There are __ voters in my family
- I just lost / I’m afraid of losing my job at Rutgers and I need (Sen/Assemblyman or Assemblywoman’s) Support.
- These layoffs are unfair because: (Talk about ONE reason)
- Rutgers is laying — off /furloughing the lowest-paid employees. 700 people so far. (People not covered by AFSCME’s agreement.)
- Dining lost $15 million this year—Athletics loses $30 million every year. Where is the “shared sacrifice?”
- You passed legislation for furloughs to save jobs. Now Rutgers is ignoring our attempt to use this tool.
- As we are negotiating, Rutgers acts unilaterally and in bad faith.
- Rutgers pays millions to coaches that don’t work here anymore but wants to save money through cutting people who still do. Schiano makes $13 thousand a day.
- President Barchi and Sr. VP of Academic Affairs Barbara Lee are both stepping down. Rutgers will pay them over $1 million for taking their sabbaticals. At the same time, they lay-off the blue-collar workforce.
- I’m worried because: (ONE reason)
- I will lose my health insurance at the end of June.
- I am the breadwinner in my family.
- My spouse and I are now both jobless.
- My children will not be able to continue their college education.
- My union is trying to negotiate furloughs instead of layoffs, but Rutgers is saying no. You have heard about one union agreement, but hundreds of others have been laid off and they are still coming. The AFSCME agreement would furlough the lowest paid workers for 72 days, but only provides 6 months of job protection—
- I know you have passed a law to use furloughs to prevent layoffs and leverage the CARES Act. If we do this right, we will save the state millions.
- Will Senator or Assemblyperson ______ call Vice President Fernandez at 732–266-5705 and ask her to negotiate an equitable furlough and no-layoff pledge for FY21?
- Will you call me back when they do?
- Thank you, my family and I depend on your support