Uniting around a common agenda for upcoming contract negotiations, 150 union leaders and activists representing the unionized Rutgers staff and faculty met to strategize at the Busch Campus Center in Piscataway on May 1.
Working together under the banner of “Reclaim Rutgers”, the twenty local unions and 20,000 union members at Rutgers represent enormous potential for all of us to secure a fair contract during contract negotiations that take place later this year for most Rutgers employees.
When Governor Christie and the NJ Legislature reorganized medical education in NJ in 2012, our coalition of higher education and health care unions, including HPAE, mobilized and won significant protections for workers, students, patients and the communities served by UMDNJ and Rutgers.
The May 1 meeting represented the start of a renewed commitment by HPAE, AFT and Rutgers unions to coordinate our efforts and shape the future reorganization of Rutgers and UMDNJ.
Attendees signed on to Principles of Unity that include equity in policies, benefits and pay; retention of experienced staff; the timely settlement of union con-tracts; the right of all workers at Rutgers to join a union; and the investment of public funds for education, research and patient care. In addition to HPAE, URA-AFT, AAUP-AFT, CWA, the AAUP-BHSNJ, and the FOP participated, as well as student activists.
The coalition is planning follow up actions for the summer and fall. A rally is in the works for June 19th in New Brunswick to present the Board of Governors with the unity demands at their next meeting. The coalition is launching a massive petition drive through the university in support of the Principles of Unity. And preparations are underway for joint union mobilizations when fall class reconvene and the majority of contracts expire.
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