Bargaining Update: March

Update from David M. Hughes, Chair of the Bargaining Team:

In early March, we held two bargaining sessions.  At the first session – a short one at only two hours on March 6th – the Union’s team explained the concept of bargaining for the common good.  Every proposal that we put across the table is designed to make Rutgers a more equitable and diverse workplace that enhances higher education as a public good for the people of New Jersey and the world.

In that spirit, we presented our proposal on family and medical leave (Article XVI).  We wish to extend the period of leave for new parents to a full, 14-week semester, plus 6 weeks’ recuperative leave in the case of a birth mother. Our language stipulates that the central administration should pay for any necessary teaching replacement without the need for faculty to close ranks. We also proposed contract language insuring implementation of federal rules regarding lactation spaces.  Lactation rooms are needed across the Camden, Newark, and NB campuses and should be made available to all lactating mothers in the Rutgers community, including undergraduate students.  If accepted by the Administration, these provisions will improve conditions for women faculty and students as they seek to contribute to the University and advance their careers.  Marcy Schwartz (Associate Professor and Chair, Spanish and Portuguese, NB) attended as an observer to this session and gave compelling personal testimony along these lines.  Finally, we presented a draft memorandum of agreement regarding Infosilem, the course scheduling software that the Administration will soon test in New Brunswick. We seek to include on the implementation committee for this software representatives from the Rutgers AAUP-AFT, the union of PTLs, the University Senate, and the New Brunswick Faculty Council.  As expected, Management commented very little on these proposals, asking only technical, clarifying questions.

The second bargaining session was slightly longer, at three hours on March 13th, and covered additional issues with slightly more drama.  We presented proposals on the grievance procedure, discrimination and harassment, union rights, and professional duties (Articles IX, IV, VII, and XIV, respectively).  In all of these cases, we wish to update contract language that goes as far back as the 1970s in order to more accurately reflect the needs and operations of the faculty and the University.  The current grievance procedure provides advisory rather than binding arbitration with regard to most violations of the Agreement and University policies and to all cases of non-reappointment for non-tenure track faculty.  Other Unions at Rutgers enjoy binding arbitration for comparable issues.  Presidents of Rutgers can and have overturned decisions by an arbitrator.  This is simply unfair.  Imagine, we explained at the bargaining table, if the US president could overrule the Supreme Court whenever he pleased.  Management responded with derisory smiles – even as we presented troubling examples of faculty whose arbitration decision and awards were vetoed from on high.  Regarding the other articles, we seek to expand protections against harassment and bullying, obtain more course release time for union work, and institute provisions whereby departments spell out more clearly their​ criteria for tenure and promotion. This last reform would benefit all faculty and especially those who, coming from underprivileged backgrounds, lack the informal knowledge so helpful in Academe and other white collar workplaces.  Again, Management asked only technical questions.

The drama came as Management objected to the presence of officers of the Rutgers AAUP-BHSNJ (representing faculty of the Medical and Dental Schools) and of the Part-Time Faculty Union (representing PTLs).  We wanted to bargain jointly with these two unions to, in part, limit Management’s ability to divide and conquer the workforce, a tactic Old Queens is fond of.  In the face of Management’s refusal to allow joint bargaining we invited observers from these two unions into our session.  Their presence – and the fact that one of them made a short comment – caused Management’s team to leave the room, only to return after 20 minutes or so.

We will continue to invite these representatives to our bargaining sessions, and, indeed, we expect to bargain jointly with the PTLs regarding fractional appointments. This would have part-time faculty ​earning a fraction of a full-time NTT salary in any given department, as prorated to the number of courses taught.


Our team members are:

David M. Hughes, Chair (Professor, Anthropology, NB)

Carlos Decena (Associate Professor and Chair, Latino and Caribbean Studies, NB)

Nicole Dykstra (Graduate Employee, Biological Sciences, Newark)

Chuck Häberl (Associate professor and Chair, African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures, NB)

Carla Katz (Assistant Teaching Professor, Labor Studies, NB)

Patrice Mareschal (Associate Professor, Public Policy and Administration, Camden)

Matthew Welsh (Graduate Employee, Math, NB)

Deepa Kumar (President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT)

Patrick Nowlan (Executive Director, Rutgers AAUP-AFT)

BJ Walker (Senior Staff Rep, Rutgers AAUP-AFT)

Steve Weissman (Counsel)

Management’s team:

Karen Stubaus, Chair (Executive Vice Chancellor, Administration)

Ronald Ransome (Area Dean, School of Arts and Sciences, NB)

Lisa Bonick (Executive Director, Academic Labor Relations)

Vivian Fernandez (Executive Vice President, Human Resources and Organizational Efficiency)

Quionne Matchett (Senior Labor Relations Specialist)

Jennifer Penley (Academic Labor Relations Manager)

David Cohen (General Counsel)