Job Security

Table of Contents

1. Reduce the growth of contingent positions by increasing the number of Tenured and Tenure-Track (TT) faculty; increasing the number of Teaching Assistant (TA) and Graduate Assistant (GA) positions; and, expanding tenure by creating a teaching-intensive tenure track for NTT faculty
2. Create a path to longer term appointments and evaluation for Non-Tenure Track faculty (NTT) and Part-Time Lecturers (PTLs)
3. Establish 5-year graduate employee (TA/GA/fellow) contracts
4. Establish bridge funds principal investigators in support of grant-funded GAs, post-docs, and research faculty
5. Resist the corporatization of the university by placing power back in the hands of faculty over our conditions of work (such as work load policies, tenure and promotion policies, and student complaint processes)
6. Renew and expand the phased retirement plan


Reduce the growth of contingent positions by increasing the number of tenured and Tenure-Track (TT) faculty; increading the number of Teaching Assistant (TA) and Graduate Assistant (GA) positions; and, expanding tenure by creating a teaching-intensive tenure track for NTT faculty

Instead of hiring faculty with full benefits, academic freedom and job security, Rutgers’ management exploits a vast contingent labor force with inadequate support and compensation. No matter how qualified and dedicated contingent faculty are, their precarious status undermines student learning conditions, robust faculty governance, and the production of cutting-edge research.

Despite steady growth and record-breaking student enrollment in 2017, the number of tenured and Tenure-Track (TT) faculty at Rutgers has remained flat for decades while the number of part-time lecturer (PTL) positions have increased dramatically.

In fact, Rutgers ranks among the worst in comparison to other Big Ten schools. The percentage of tenured and Tenure-Track faculty as an overall percent of faculty has declined to a mere 25.6% at Rutgers-New Brunswick—the second lowest percent of Tenured and Tenure-track faculty of all 14 Big Ten universities’ main campuses. Rutgers also has the highest percentage of PTLs in the Big Ten as a percentage of total faculty—exceeding the next closest university, Ohio State, by nearly 17%. Rutgers also has the fourth highest percentage of full-time Non-Tenure Track faculty among these peer institutions. Tragically, Rutgers comes in dead last in the Big Ten in hiring graduate student workers as a percent of total faculty. (see graphs below)

VIEW: Graphs and Tables – Percentage of Faculty by Category at Rutgers v Big Ten Universities 

In 2018 we want to begin to reverse this trend by bargaining for more tenured and Tenure-Track faculty and TA/GA positions. If Rutgers wishes to remain a top research university it needs to invest in faculty and graduate students involved in such work. The alarmingly low percentage of graduate employees not only impacts the future of higher education in New Jersey but deprives tenured and Tenure-Track faculty of the mentoring, collaboration and scholarship that are the measures of a top research institution.

Additionally, heavy reliance on contingent faculty undermines student success. Due to a lack of job security, the high turnover among contingent faculty members means that students are at risk of not having strong faculty advising, or may be unable to find an instructor who knows them well enough to write a letter of recommendation. And students may also be deprived of rigorous evaluations of their work.

This overuse of contingent faculty undermines all faculty. Proportionally fewer Tenure-Track faculty means fewer secure faculty for student advisement, setting curriculum, and serving on departmental, school and campus-wide committees. In effect, while contingent faculty and their students are most harmed by this arrangement, even tenured and Tenure-Track faculty experience increased workloads and diminished overall control of governance as a result of rising contingency.

Addressing this issue involves increasing the number TT faculty and TA/GA positions. With regard to TA/GAs consider this: first, TAs and GAs have declined from about 35% in 1997 of total faculty to below 25% today. Maintaining the number of TA/GA lines proportionate to 1997 levels would require an increase of several hundred positions. As we move in that direction, we strongly believe that racial diversity be an important factor in the the hiring of more TA/GAs. For more details on what TA/GAs are fighting for, click here.

Lack of tenure for contingent faculty creates an environment in which faculty are less likely to provide the classroom challenges required for a rigorous education.   It deprives the majority of the teaching faculty of meaningful shared governance and due process. While Rutgers needs and values faculty who are engaged in research and teach advanced scholarship in their fields, the increasing number of students seeking higher education means the University also needs faculty whose primary responsibility is teaching and who have expertise in their disciplines.

The National AAUP report, “Tenure and Teaching-Intensive Appointments,” prepared by a subcommittee of the Committee on Contingency and the Profession, issued in 2009, urged tenure for teaching-intensive appointments and issued the following recommendations:

  • The best practice for institutions of all types is to convert the status of contingent appointments to appointments eligible for tenure with only minor changes in job description.
  • For faculty who wish to remain in the profession on a part-time basis over the long term, we recommend as best practice fractional positions, including fully proportional pay, that are eligible for tenure and benefits, with proportional expectations for service and professional development.
  • We urge that conversion plans include discontinuance of any new off-track hiring, except where such hires are genuinely for special appointments of brief duration.

Our Union is working on proposals to realize these recommendations at Rutgers.

Create a path to longer term appointments and evaluation for Non-Tenure Track faculty (NTT) and Part-Time Lecturers (PTLs)

During the past 40 years, higher education has seen a sharp decline of tenured and Tenure-Track positions as a percent of the overall faculty, and an even more dramatic increase in the number of contingent faculty, including full-time non-tenure track (NTT) and part-time lecturer (PTL) faculty positions in total and as a percent.  Contingent faculty now make up more than one million of the 1.5 million faculty members teaching in American colleges and universities. (The Humanities, Higher Education, and Academic Freedom, Michael Berube and Jennifer Ruth) More than 70% of faculty positions in the U.S. are now teaching-intensive, contingent, and outside of the tenure system.

This disturbing trend is mirrored here at Rutgers where presently 68.8% of Rutgers faculty are contingent. The percentage of NTT and PTL faculty has increased steadily from 1997 to 2017 while permanent Tenure-Track (TT) lines and Teaching Assistant (TA) lines have stagnated in the same period. In fact, the percentage of Rutgers faculty that are tenured or Tenure-Track is 10% lower than at other Big Ten institutions.  According to National AAUP, the average of TT faculty is 40% while our TT faculty has been eroded to 31.2%.

Like many other colleges and universities, Rutgers essentially has a three-tiered faculty of TT, NTT, and PTLs (Of the 5,000+ regular FT and PT Rutgers faculty across our three campuses, 19% are full-time NTT, 39.5% are PTL,  and 41.5% are tenured/TT.  AAUP-AFT Gender and Race Equity Study 2017) —a class system under which tenure-track faculty have more protections and value and NTT and PTL colleagues are more vulnerable and underpaid. As a union, we must fight to eliminate these destructive divisions.

Our union has bargained important gains in job security such as longer NTT contracts. Now we want to do the same for PTLs.

We also want to further the gains for NTTs in order to provide true job security. NTT and PTL faculty at Rutgers have few protections for academic freedom, less opportunity for professional growth, limited roles in governance and service, and precarious status in relation to our TT colleagues in all areas, notably salaries and job security.

Establish 5-year graduate employee (TA/GA/fellow) contracts

Due to the artificial austerity imposed on schools and departments by the central administration through its RCM budgeting, an increasing number of graduate workers are being taken out of TA/GA positions and only offered PTL, co-adjutant, hourly, and other precarious positions. These positions are used to undercut the better compensated and protected TA/GA positions and also extend the time required to complete the degree. It’s time to level the playing field in terms of pushing for uniform salary, benefits, and union recognition for all positions occupied by doctoral workers. In response to and in alignment with the university’s own strategic plan, we are demanding that doctoral workers receive a guaranteed five years of funding as either a TA, GA, or equally compensated fellow. We further ask for the restoration of diversity fellowships, fully funded for 5 years by central administration, to improve racial diversity among TA/GAs and to create a pipeline so that there are more people of color available to be hired in TT positions.

TA/GA appointments are no longer secure positions at Rutgers. Instead, they have been turned into fellowships and co-adjutant positions or other forms of contingent labor. When TA/GA lines are turned into such part-time and contingent positions it takes Ph.D. students much longer to finish their degrees and further compromises the quality of undergraduate education. We, therefore, want to establish uniform salary, benefits, and union recognition for all positions occupied by doctoral students for the first five years of their doctoral program.

Additionally, the number of TA/GA positions has declined as a percentage of overall faculty over the last two decades. This impacts the research mission of the university. If Rutgers is to remain a Research One university, it needs to make a greater commitment to graduate student education and employment.

Establish bridge funds for principal investigators in support of grant-funded GAs, post-docs, and research faculty

The Union proposes a centrally-supported “bridge fund” that would support grant-funded research through unexpected interruptions in grant streams.  Such facility exists at many comparable universities and, indeed, in Rutgers’s own School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.  The bridge fund would ensure continuity for scientific experiments and greater job security for graduate assistants, postdocs, technicians and research faculty.

President Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 will reduce the NSF and NIH’s budgets by 11% and 31%, respectively.  Amid other cuts to scientific and medical research, this austerity will deal a blow to the Rutgers faculty and, in particularly, to principal investigators (PIs).

Despite such obstacles, our labs continue to bring funding and prestige to the university. In fiscal year 2016, principal investigators raised $470 million in grants and contracts, as well as $99 million in indirect costs (F&A).  These revenues exceeded the University’s projections by $36 million for grants and contracts and by $8.6 million for indirect costs.

Given this surplus – and the general financial health of the University – the Union proposes that the Administration establish a bridge fund for labs and experiments in distress. The primary ambition of this bridge fund is to maintain employment for non-tenure-track researchers and clinicians, as well as graduate assistants (GAs), postdocs and lab staff. There are many precedents for such a facility.  Many Big Ten schools enable the continuity of research when PIs experience shortfalls between grants.  We highlight the particularly supportive practices of the University of Michigan and Purdue University, as below.  Although Rutgers as a whole does not provide a bridge fund, the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences does offer support on the terms described below:

Purdue University:

  • Award Amount: Office of Executive Vice President determines award, no max/min
  • Restrictions: All funds must be exhausted;
  • Eligbility: pre-tenure faculty only; commitment from unit to faculty, and likelihood of faculty attracting support in the future;
  • Deadline: Open Application.

University of Michigan:

  • Award Amount: Variable based on position and time in university. Between 2 and 12 months’ salary and benefits;
  • Restrictions: Evidence the work is in line with unit and institutional priorities;
  • Eligibility: Requires five previous years of support from external grants and a pending, delayed award from a national funding agency that is in the process of being approved;
  • Deadline: five opportunities throughout the year.

School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (Rutgers University):

  • Award Amount: Variable;
  • Restrictions: limited to research supplies, technical personnel, and minor equipment;
  • Eligibility: Proposals submitted through department chairs;
  • Deadline: four opportunities throughout the year.

Our proposal combines the best aspects of the bridge funds at Purdue, Michigan, and the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences –  as well as original ideas from our members. We are proposing a four-campus bridge fund that will be replenished by the Central Administration and disbursed through the following stipulations:

Rutgers University (proposed central bridge fund):

  • Award Amount: Variable;
  • Restrictions: limited to personnel costs – including GAs, postdocs, technicians and research faculty– and equipment strictly necessary to keep personnel employed;
  • Eligibility: Proposals submitted by any faculty member with PI status;
  • Deadline: rolling throughout the year.
Resist the corporatization of the university by placing power back in the hands of faculty over our conditions of work (such as work load policies, tenure and promotion policies, student complaint processes)
Departments/units will determine their own work load policies
​Many departments have long-established policies around workload — policies that identify course load and other expectations. These policies, developed by the faculty and approved by the Dean, provide useful guidance and protections with regard to equitable and transparent workloads and assignments. The Union is proposing that all departments/units have such policies on record.
Departments/units will develop policies around tenure and promotion

A number of changes to existing evaluation procedures are being proposed including ​the development of department and/or field-specific criteria for promotion; required clarifications to external evaluators of the “Ten Year Rule”; required automatic provision of evaluation narratives at the conclusion of reappointment evaluations; and, the provision of specific guidance for further advancement in rank following a positive formal review.

Faculty notification and the ability to respond to student complaints
There’s been a troubling trend of student complaints being addressed in the absence of discussions with the Instructor of record. The Union is proposing a requirement that these discussions take place with the faculty member concerned. Misunderstandings about an assignment or unhappiness with a course might easily be resolved through dialogue between a chair or dean with the faculty member who is the subject of the complaint. Bypassing that conversation doesn’t serve the students or the University well. It can lead to decisions being made without the benefit of full information. Having these decisions made outside of the view of, or, in some cases, the knowledge of the faculty member is troubling for obvious reasons. The Union’s proposal in this area concerns complaints that are not already the subject of established policies and processes, e.g., formal grade complaints, and harassment/discrimination complaints through the Office of Employment Equity.
Renew and expand the phased retirement plan