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.
URA members say:
“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.”
Continue reading What Do You Think About RU’s Merger?
From September 29 to October 2, 2011, the AFL‐CIO held the “Next Up: Young Workers Summit” in Minneapolis. With 800 in attendance, the conference held panels on topics ranging from the current state of the economy to labor history. Representing the URA were Abiezel Raices, a Community Assistant at Rutgers, and David Sokolowski, a Communications Coordinator at the RU Cell and DNA Repository.
In reporting back on the conference, both Abiezel and David noted the emphasis placed on the erosion of the middle class and the widening gap between the rich and the poor. For Abiezel, one particularly revelatory panel on the economy highlighted the fallacy behind the notion that money trickles down from the country’s wealthiest citizens to its poorest. Rather than supporting the 1% of American citizens who own most of the wealth, he said, “the goal should be balancing out the classes and fortifying the middle class.” Similarly, David reported that he learned shocking statistics on the gap in pay between the average American worker and CEO, a gap vastly higher in this country than most European countries.
Other panels attended by the URA members addressed the multi‐faceted role of politics in shaping the labor movement. David walked away lamenting that there are too many politicians who claim to be pro‐labor candidates who will fight for the rights of the middle class but then get elected and “flip the script,” turning their backs on the interests of working people. In the current climate, “unions really have their backs against the walls,” David said, adding, “The idea of ‘workers unite’ is huge,” and “a lot of Americans need to be more ticked off.”
Continue reading Young URA Members Go to Minnesota