Rutgers labor unions press for $15 per hour minimum wage, affordable health care

By David Hutter, February 21, 2018

The Rutgers University American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers is asking Rutgers to increase pay to $15 per hour for union employees and affordable health care.

The Rutgers University AAUP-AFT also is pressing several additional requests as part of its upcoming collective bargaining negotiations for new contracts for its 5,500 faculty members and graduate employees. The union has joined with Rutgers medical faculty colleagues, university staff and maintenance workers to pursue a joint program of bargaining.

Rutgers AAUP-AFT vice president David Hughes will be among those meeting with representatives for the college today to press those demands on behalf of Rutgers AAUP-AFT’s 5,500 members and its negotiating partners. A 4 p.m. rally on campus is also planned to publicize contract demands.

Current contracts for 24 Rutgers unions expire June 30.

“The principles are that an employer who takes collective bargaining seriously and respects the workers will do whatever he or she can do to make the next contract follow seamlessly,” Hughes said. “We expect to have a contract by July 1. … It is fundamentally insulting for an employer to create conditions where employees work without a contract.”

The AAUP-AFT is one of 24 labor unions who collectively represent almost 20,000 Rutgers employees. An additional 8,192 Rutgers employees are not represented by unions, including 2,537 hourly employees, Hughes said.

At a Feb. 7 board of trustees meeting at the school’s Newark campus, Rutgers University President Robert Barchi said the administration will meet with leaders of the 24 unions to negotiate contracts before the current contracts expire. Hughes accused the Rutgers administration of excessive delays in scheduling collective bargaining sessions.

“All issues related to employee contracts will be discussed at the negotiating table with the appropriate bargaining team representatives from the administration and the unions,” Rutgers spokeswoman Dory Devlin said Monday via email.

The AAUP-AFT is also asking Rutgers administrators to guarantee job security, gender equity, race equity, academic freedom, automatic yearly cost-of-living raises every year and equal pay for equal work for part-time faculty members. The union is also asking the administration to freeze tuition for undergraduates, to waive tuition for Ph.D. students and to expand state funding of the Educational Opportunity Fund programs to increase student access, diversity and success.