Bargaining Update: April 23

A major focus of the bargaining session was the working conditions of contingent faculty—Non-tenure Track (NTT) and Part-time Lecturers (PTLs). The Union made a number of significant and historic proposals, including the establishment of teaching tenure for teaching intensive faculty, fractional NTT appointments for PTLs, longer contracts (greater job security) for all contingent faculty and higher minimum salaries for NTTs, both full time and fractional.

The first of the articles that we put across the table with respect to contingent faculty was on Teaching Tenure.  This idea has been germinating for a number of years. The percentage of faculty (full-time and part-time) who are tenured or tenure-track versus those faculty outside of the tenure stream in the US has flipped in the past thirty years from 70:30 to 30:70.   Our intent is to create a new tenure stream for teaching-intensive faculty to complement the other tenure streams that already exist at the University including the traditionally more research-intensive tenure stream, library, extension, and art/performance tenure streams.  This would mean that faculty who are teaching intensive will have the opportunity to seek tenure in a process that is rigorous and gives teaching faculty the same protection of academic freedom as a faculty member engaged in research and teaching. We proposed that newly-employed teaching faculty, as of July 1, 2018, be hired directly into the Teaching Tenure stream. Current NTTs who are teaching intensive would have the option of moving into the Teaching Tenure stream or remaining in the current non-tenure track Teaching Series.  

Tenure for teaching faculty already exists at NJ state and community colleges and for all public-school teachers in New Jersey.  Our proposal represents the most compelling way of preserving academic freedom, restoring professionalism to the teaching profession, improving student learning, and ensuring the growth and endurance of the tenure model. Presentations were made by NB Chapter President Carla Katz and NB Chapter VP Will Brucher, both NTT faculty in the Department of Labor Studies at the School of Management and Labor Relations.

The second article we proposed reflects the Union’s significant achievements for NTT faculty in the last round of negotiations (including higher minimum salaries, new title series with promotion, and longer contracts).  In this contract we hope to build on those advances. The most significant part of the proposal recognized the value of NTTs to the institution by increasing job security in the form of longer contracts for both grant-funded and non-grant funded faculty.  For current non-grant funded teaching faculty that do not opt to move into the teaching tenure stream, we propose appointment lengths of 3, 3 and then 5 years. Similarly, for NTT’s who are not primarily teaching hired after July 1, 2018 we also proposed appointment lengths of 3,3, and then 5 years.  Further, we proposed that grant-funded faculty receive two-year appointments until they reach their 6th year at which time the 2-year appointments become presumptively renewable, subject to available funding.  

Next, we proposed broadening the Recognition article (Article 3) to enlarge the union’s bargaining unit to cover all part-time faculty and graduate employees—essentially all persons who are engaged in instruction, research, or other academic service, including faculty members with fractional appointments.  The Union’s proposed changes to this article reflect our belief that the work one does, rather than the title one holds, should determine bargaining unit inclusion.

We then proposed a new article on NTT Fractional Appointments. In the last round of negotiations, the PTL bargaining unit made a similar proposal which resulted in a Joint Labor Management Committee on Performance Evaluations and Career Advancement. That committee looked at best practices at other Universities and issued a joint report in June 2017. The number of PTLs at Rutgers has grown from 800 in 1988 to 3,000 today. We believe that our current proposal reflects the conclusions we reached jointly that part-time faculty need better and fairer pay, longer appointments, access to health benefits, and real job security. The word fractional is critical to our proposal because it means that a part-time faculty member would be paid—per course–at least 1/8 of what a full time NTT is paid (based on a 4-4 load) based on the principle of equal pay for equal work.  

Finally, we briefly reviewed the Union’s new proposals on the Grievance Procedure for Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty and Faculty Reappointment/Promotion for Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty.  We seek to protect faculty from the increasingly cursory judgments – sometimes only two lines long – on the part of the PRC.  In response to troubling reports that faculty are being told that they may not discuss what occurs during an evaluation process with a candidate, we incorporated language reflecting a joint understanding with the administration that faculty are not prohibited from discussing an evaluation once it has concluded.   In the area of reappointment/promotion guidelines, we wish to explicitly exclude any data from Academic Analytics, Elsevier, or similar big-data metrics. Also important is the establishment of criteria specific to areas/disciplines and identification of markers of accomplishment expected for promotion.

Prior to the Union’s presentations on the language proposals, we made a written demand to bargain over INFOSILEM, a new class scheduling software that is intended to be tested soon at Rutgers, so that we may formally bargain over the interests of our members in retaining some control over their schedules.  

Our next joint bargaining session is scheduled for May 3, 2018.  There will be a live (Zoom) bargaining update from the Union’s office after the session concludes.