Rutgers Contract Update, December 18, 2014

You are probably aware, the Teamsters union has recently reached an agreement with Rutgers for a four year contract that includes wage increases of 2.0% for the first three years and 2.25% for the final year as well as some modifications to their existing contract language. And, as we’ve previously suspected, management has also announced a 2% raise for the “non-aligned” staff (non-aligned staff, by the way, means non-union, and that includes management). It seems in poor taste for management to reward themselves with raises while still in negotiations with the vast majority of the their staff and faculty.

It is clear to us that management wants to use the Teamsters agreement and their non-aligned raises to set a pattern for an economic settlement with ours and other unions at the University. We question their motives for communicating with our members regarding negotiations with other unions. These tactics seem like a cynical attempt to divide our membership in order to pressure our negotiating committee into settling.

While we want a contract now, that does not mean we will make concessions or give up on our priorities. From day one, our negotiations have been about establishing parity with our Rutgers Legacy counterparts, protecting our job security and winning a fair wage increase. We are making progress on some items, and talks have not been completely unproductive, but our committee still has some way to go before we’ll be able to come back to you with a tentative agreement that we can stand behind and ask for your support.

At yesterday’s session, management claimed they are no longer interested in aligning their payroll systems and therefore it is no longer necessary for us to agree to an MOA similar to the one they reached with the Teamsters. Which means, absent an agreement, our fiscal year, work week, daily rate of pay, holidays and attendance policies will remain the same but they will also not extend tuition remission to dependent children. Rutgers management is callously using their benefits as bargaining chips in order to lower standards and pit workers against each other rather than strive for fairness and equitable, consistent policies.

In an effort to move the negotiations along, we started packaging our proposals together. Here’s our latest economic proposal:

– Effective retroactive to 7/1/14: 2.5% across the board + one step move, 2% bonus for the top step

– Effective 7/1/15: 2% across the board + one step move, 2% bonus for the top step

– Effective 7/1/16: 2% across the board + one step move, 2% bonus for the top step

– Expiration date: June 30, 2017

– Reduced parking costs in accordance with the Rutgers Legacy policy

– Tuition remission in accordance with the Rutgers Legacy policy

– Withdraw our proposal to reduce health care contributions and replace it with a joint labor-management committee to explore ways to reduce out-of-pocket costs.

Furthermore, you should be aware that our contract currently includes language that makes wage increases “subject to” state appropriations by the legislature. At UMDNJ this has never been an issue for our union, however in 2010, Rutgers used this provision to freeze negotiated wage increases for their faculty and staff. What good is an agreement if management is not obligated to honor it? We’ve united with Rutgers Legacy unions in an attempt to remove the provision from our contracts and it is part of our overall economic proposal to the University.

We are waiting on management’s response at our next session and scheduling dates for January.

In order to win a fair contract, we need to make sure that President Barchi feels the pressure to meet our demands. We’ve enlisted the support of prominent legislators including Senate President, Steve Sweeney, who will be speaking out in our favor at a press conference on Thursday in Trenton. You can click here to see a list of other prominent officials who’ve also lent their support.

In addition, we need you to take action. Our petition to President Barchi, Chancellor Strom and the Board of Governors, is now being hosted online by moveon.org. Click here to add your name!

Posted December 18, 2014