Nearly 4,700 faculty, graduate student employees secure new work contracts
After months of bargaining and a handful of campus-held protests, nearly 4,700 full-time faculty and graduate student employees at Rutgers ratified a new contract, said Sherry Wolf, lead organizer of the Rutgers American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT), in a statement released Thursday.
More than 97 percent of faculty members covered under the agreement voted to ratify the contract negotiated by the faculty union, Wolf said in the statement.
The new contract, which will run through June 30, 2018, protects members from salary freezes and healthcare rate hikes, guarantees 8.25 percent wage gains on average through the contract's life, provides raises to faculty at the lower income levels and offers 7,000 graduate student employees a Professional Development Fund.
Faculty at the bottom income levels will receive 43 percent raises, while the minimum wage for 910 non-tenure faculty members jumped from a salary of $39,000 to $57,000.
Faculty and staff have been fighting for a new contract since 2010, when Wolf said the University instituted a salary freeze, which was allowed by the contract's "subject to" clause.
"Altering the language used to freeze wages, popularly known as the 'subject to' clause, became a focus of the contract campaign in its final weeks," Wolf said in the statement.
About 100 faculty members and staff protested at Old Queens during bargaining, chanting “strike” in late February. An agreement with administration was reached soon after.
"Together, faculty, staff and students petitioned, rallied and protested to win better terms," Wolf said.
E.J. Miranda, spokesperson for Rutgers University, called the contract "fair, reasonable and responsible." He said the administration is thankful the contract has been ratified.
"We congratulate the members of both negotiating teams for their hard work, perseverance and creativity in arriving at this agreement," Miranda said.
Lisa Klein, president of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, said membership activism provided the leverage the negotiating team needed to revise management's "subject to" clause.
Moving forward, Wolf said faculty will be joining the staff union in an effort to ensure staff receive the same protections.