Board of Governors preview: union gives ‘Final Warning,’ lawsuit may boot 4 out-of-state members

At the Rutgers Board of Governors meeting tomorrow, which will be held at the Paul Robeson Campus Center in Newark, NJ, the board is expected to conduct business during a picket labeled as “Final Warning: Contract or Strike” by the Rutgers American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT). The faculty union represents more than 7,700 Rutgers faculty and graduate students across all three campuses and has been negotiating a new contract for over a year.

“First they say it’s not bargainable, then they ignore you, then they claim they suddenly found $20 million dollars for diversity hiring and it has nothing to do with your 13-month contract fight! We have more 2 win Final Warning: Contract or Strike at the BOG,” read one of the tweets posted by AAUP-AFT over the weekend.

The union also tweeted that there will be a tele-Town Hall today for members to get bargaining updates and hear the latest on strike preparations. Another tweet urged members to RSVP for picket captain training.

The $20 million the initial tweet is referring to is the additional money University President Robert L. Barchi put toward a diversity hiring initiative, which he extended to 2024. The University Diversity Hiring Initiative originally promised $21.8 million for diversity hiring through 2021.

The announcement was made to “support a continued effort to hire, mentor and retain faculty from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds,” said Dory Devlin, senior director of University News and Media Relations.

The University continues to negotiate faith, Devlin said, and has given three percent raises in agreements with 25 percent of their workforce.

“The picket will be an appeal to the top administration at the final BOG meeting of the semester to invest in their students’ learning conditions and fund the first grad raises since 2013, gender equity in the era of #MeToo and equal pay for equal work across all Rutgers’ campuses and job titles. In March, faculty and grad union members voted to authorize the elected leadership to call a job action, up to and including a strike,” stated an AAUP-AFT press release.

NEW JERSEY FIRST ACT LAWSUIT

Four members of the Rutgers Board of Governors could lose their seats because they do not live in New Jersey, according to an article by NorthJersey.com. A state judge is currently deciding if the members are in violation of the New Jersey First Act, which requires state residency for “certain public officers and employees.”

Attorneys defending the board members refute the lawsuit brought by Charlie Kratovil, editor of the New Brunswick Today because they argue that the law only applies to those who are compensated, as opposed to working as volunteers. Members of the board are unpaid and meet at least six times a year, according to the article.

The decision could be a consequential one that could reverberate to volunteers serving on boards throughout New Jersey, according to the article.

MEETING’S AGENDA

The meeting itself will cover recommendations for commencement speakers and honorary degrees for graduation at Rutgers University – New Brunswick, a proposed resolution on the creation of the Charles A. DeMarzo and Keith A. Lamb Endowed Chair in Educational Equity and a proposed resolution for a University external audit for the last fiscal year.

This story first appeared in The Daily Targum here.