URA members took up the higher education merger issue in Newark last week. Union members, students, alumni and passers-by wrote postcards to Governor Christie and legislative leaders.
URA-AFT and AAUP-AFT have gone on record opposing a Rowan takeover of Rutgers-Camden. But the effects of re-organization will be felt across the state. If Governor Christie uses an Executive Order to slice and dice Rutgers, UMDNJ and Rowan, the process could be underway with no answers to the important questions:
- What will the re-alignment of Rutgers, UMDNJ and Rowan cost?
- Will the costs be paid for with even higher tuition and fees?
- Will the new “NJ Health Science University” have the finances it needs once New Brunswick units are merged with Rutgers? If not, will further mergers result in Newark?
- If University Hospital becomes a “P3” (public-private partnership), will it provide the level of care, especially charity care, that it provides now?
- If thousands of UMDNJ employees in New Brunswick and Piscataway become Rutgers employees, will there be layoffs? Who might be laid off?
- If Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and other units of UMDNJ join Rutgers without transferring all of their administrative staff, will URA members have to take on extra work, for example, payroll, purchasing, grant administration, admissions, et cetera? Will we get new lines to do this work? Will lines come from UMDNJ?
- President McCormick estimated “a one-time expense of at least $40M” for the UMDNJ- Rutgers merger. Will the $30M Rutgers got from the 2009-2011 salary freeze be used to pay for the merger?
If Governor Christie is able to use an executive order to re-organize higher education, his word will be law, and neither the legislature nor the public will get answers to these complicated questions of costs and benefits. On the other hand, if re-organization takes the form of proposed legislation, a process of hearings, public input, and debate can take place. The state senate and assembly have 60 days to oppose an executive order by Christie.
URA-AFT has joined the Higher Education Health Care Coalition (HEHC), a group of unions affected by the re-organization of higher education. Immediate goals are as follows:
- Oppose the Rowan take-over of Rutgers-Camden
- Ensure that any re-organization or merger goes through the legislative process, and is not done by executive order (this will provide for greater transparency and allow for input and public comment by all affected constituents)
- Ensure that any mergers do not break up existing unions
- Ensure that any mergers do not result in privatizing or outsourcing jobs
URA members, friends, and families should call, e-mail, or write the Governor and our legislative leaders and say:
“New Jersey needs answers about the costs and benefits of the Barer Commission’s plan. Don’t re-organize higher education by Executive Order. “
Governor Chris Christie: (609) 292-6000
Higher Education Committee Chairs:
- Senate: Hon. Sandra Cunningham (201) 451-5100
- Assembly: Hon. Celeste Riley (856) 455-1011