August 22, 2019 | 89° F

U. treatment of staff employees promotes inequality, unjust

Rutgers management is trying to discriminate against its staff employees. If you want to understand income inequality, how it works and how the seeds of it are planted, look no further than contract negotiations going on at Rutgers. Management just signed a contract with the faculty union granting it special protections in the areas of health insurance and raises. They are trying to deny these same protections to staff.

The money has to come from somewhere, and so management is trying to force their lower-paid employees to subsidize the health insurance and future raises of their highest-paid employees.

There is a reason they are doing this. Most executives at Rutgers come out of the faculty. And when they finish their term of office and step down from their role as area dean, vice-president and so on, they return to faculty positions in their original departments. So, it is in their best financial interest to give as many perks and special deals to the faculty as they can, because when they step down from management, they will reap those benefits. It is a revolving door that rewards both faculty and management.

It is important to note that the faculty union is part of the National American Federation of Teachers, and they just released a statement of solidarity with the staff. So, the decision to discriminate against staff employees is management's decision alone.

To add to this picture, Rutgers is beginning a series of re-organizations. They are cutting staff lines and doubling people's workloads. They wave big numbers about deficits, when they are, in actuality, increasing department budgets. This means that department spending is increasing, so staff workloads are following the same trend.

This is part of a deliberate strategy to target staff. Management is doing everything in their power to carry on with their business as usual, with extravagant spending. And the most convenient way they have found to do this is to take advantage of their staff, to pressurize us with mounting workloads and deny us equal rights at the bargaining table.

History teaches us that when people are being treated poorly, that treatment will continue until people say “no.” Rutgers will be holding a hearing on the University budget on Thursday, April 23, and staff intend to testify. We will say “no” to being treated like second-class citizens, “no” to being bullied and financially used and “no” to our management's frivolous spending.

A coalition between students, faculty and staff has shown that Rutgers works because we do. We will feel the presence of Martin Luther King, Jr. in that hearing. History is, and has always been, on our side.

Kathryn Neal is an administrative coordinator in the Classics Department of the School of Arts and Sciences. She has been with the University for 13 years. She is the Steward for the Union of Rutgers Administrators, URA-AFT, Local 1766.

Kathryn Neal

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