Representatives for the 20,000 employees of Rutgers University have asked school administrators to set the dates for meetings to begin collective bargaining for new contracts.
Speaking Wednesday at a board of trustees meeting at the school’s Newark campus, Rutgers University President Robert Barchi said the administration will meet with the 24 unions representing the employees to negotiate contracts before current contracts expire June 30.
“Our negotiating team is already set up and we will have them later this month,” Barchi said. “We look forward to what I hope will be a collegial and profitable collective bargaining exchange. We have a tremendous amount of respect for all our faculty and staff and others who work for us and their input in operating the university.”
David Hughes, vice president of a Rutgers faculty union and a professor of anthropology at the New Brunswick campus, said he has been asking administrators since September to set bargaining dates to negotiate new contracts to replace those set to expire in June.
“We have a set of bargaining positions that are designed to make Rutgers University serve the people of New Jersey,” Hughes said. “[The administration] is dragging their feet. We are running into a situation where the contract will expire for 20,000 workers on July 1 and we won’t have a deal and we won’t have a respectful campus here where workers and managers work on a common mission. And you can prevent that.”
Thomas Murphy, a 37-year Rutgers employee who’s a research teaching specialist in the Department of Surgery at the New Jersey Medical School and co-president of Health Professionals and Allied Employees Local 5094, asked the board of governors to hold the administration accountable.
“We are here today to stress the immediate need for the administration to get to the bargaining table with all the unions now and to do so in a manner that provides sufficient scheduled days for bargaining to have a successor contract in place by the expiration date of the current contract,” Murphy said. “Our memberships are not interested in continuing the administration’s practice of starting contract negotiations late, scheduling half-day sessions weeks apart one date at a time, causing negotiations to drag on for months, resulting in new contracts years after the old contracts have expired.”
Rutgers spokeswoman Dory Devlin said the process of setting up the meetings is on schedule.
“The meetings are all set,” Devlin said. “This process is typical. They are not off-schedule.”