“As an employee of Rutgers and as a member of the Union of Rutgers Administrators, I believe that when the University makes an agreement with its workers, it has to keep its promises. In 2009, our Union agreed to wait an extra year for our raise. And when that year was up, Rutgers didn’t pay. How can you now look us in the face and consider spending millions of dollars for a new building?
If Rutgers is truly facing hard economic times, then you should do the decent thing today and vote NOT to award millions of dollars for construction of a business school in New Brunswick. To spend millions on yet another building, while freezing our salaries, increasing tuition, and withholding raises, is the modern-day version of saying “Let the students and workers eat cake”.
I hope that, before this meeting ends, this Board gets its priorities in order. Your first obligation is to the students of this university. Take those millions of dollars and pay down the rising tuition and fees for these students. Pay the staff and faculty the living wage that you promised us. We can’t feed our families or pay for health care with bricks.
Rutgers major unions – URA-AFT, AAUP-AFT, AFSCME Locals 888 and 1761 – have offered, since July 2011, to settle our salary freeze grievances
So what is holding us up? Here’s the picture for URA:
URA and AAUP offered a similar framework for a settlement. Elements included: partial retroactivity, a raise for FY 2011-12 and FY 2012–13, and compensation to PERS retirees who did not get what State PERS members got through the MOA.
Management has made an offer which would extend the contract an additional 3 years, but would not give any new money, beyond the payout of the 9% which was provided in our original contract. That 9% would be spread out until FY 13–14.
Management has not ended the unequal treatment of URA members. While faculty members received a raise in 2010, and AFSCME members are receiving increments this year, we have received no raises since July 2008.
Management is not addressing the significant increases in the cost of health and pension benefits to our members. While many of us would consider any raise to be an improvement, we have to consider what our needs will be (considering recent changes to our healthcare and pension system) over the next 3 years before we can vote on any settlement.
Until we see an offer from management which moves in the direction of resolving these inequalities, we need to keep all our alternatives open. Those include: mobilizing to protest the salary freeze and educate the community about real financial mismanagement at Rutgers, negotiating a new contract for 2011–2014, and pursuing the two arbitration cases we have scheduled with Arbitrators Light (Phase 2) and Mastriani.
“The Presidential Search representatives were on the Camden campus yesterday and many in attendance voiced concerns about the rumored splitting of the University. In addition to the need for settling labor contracts to retain quality workers and faculty, the mergers were the hottest topic of discussion.
“In Camden, the consensus is that, in the absence of real investment, our campus will not grow to the size of Newark so our voices will not be heard, let alone respected. Rutgers had the opportunity to partner with the UMDNJ medical school in Camden but declined because it wanted the medical school to be in New Brunswick. Now it has the opportunity to get what it wanted so it might as well, or our loss was for nothing. That decision was indicative of the general attitude toward the Camden campus, and we are not unaware of it.
“However, all here acknowledge that only the Rutgers name brings the quality of teachers and students we have on this campus in this city with its terrible reputation. Without the name ‘Rutgers,’ it is feared this campus will take many years to recover from the loss of faculty, students and staff – if it ever does. We feel that if the powers that be decide to divest itself from Camden, it should do so from Newark as well — focus entirely on the New Brunswick/Piscataway campus, but call itself ‘Rutgers University’ instead. ‘The State University of New Jersey’ should be dropped if it chooses to eliminate the campus that makes its education and research accessible to the entire southern half of this state. Or, if it retains Newark, call it ‘Rutgers, The State University of North Jersey.’
“That being said, it is our hope that those in power recognize the value of both the Camden and Newark campuses, and commit to making the quality of these campuses on par with that of the main campus, so a Rutgers education is accessible to the entire state. This campus is proud to be, and we wish to continue being, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.”