With contracts expiring for faculty and staff while unions challenge unfair layoffs, several hundred union members met outside today’s Board of Governors’ meeting to call for fair contracts and respect for workers. Unions represent 20,000 workers in 29 faculty and staff bargaining units throughout the school since the merger of UMDNJ with Rutgers last year. The Rutgers One coalition of students, faculty, staff and alumni is coordinating among the unions and seeing delay tactics across the board from the university in bargaining.
“Gathering here together is one of the ways we are saying that we will not accept Rutgers management stalling tactics,” said Journalism professor Deepa Kumar, secretary of the Rutgers faculty AAUP-AFT local. “They are not bargaining in good faith and we are here to insist that they treat us with respect.”
“We want Rutgers to respect our experience. We want no layoffs, but right now they are laying off UMDNJ legacy people,” said Kathy Hernandez, Executive Vice President of the Communications Workers of America 1031. “Rutgers has to come to the table so we can negotiate.”
Representatives of the Healthcare Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) and Teamsters also challenged layoffs instituted as a one-year no layoff provision of the legislation merging Rutgers with UMDNJ expires July 1.
“We have had problems already with the university abiding by our contract,” said Judy Cunha, co-president of HPAE 5904. She detailed multiple grievances of layoffs disregarding contractual seniority provisions.
Rutgers student Dave Bedford said students advocate for tuition freezes, but university management claims to be short on money, despite a recent analysis that found hundreds of millions in excess reserves. “The BOG has gone far too long putting their priorities above the priorities of those who work so hard to make this university what it is,” said Bedford. “We are here as students to express our solidarity with faculty and staff and also to call on Rutgers for a tuition freeze.”