Rutgers employees consider further job action as contract negotiations continue
Union members who make up the administrative employees at Rutgers University took to the picket lines on Tuesday. They say they are frustrated that a deal for a new contract has not yet been worked out.
It's not just Rutgers faculty members in need of a new contract. It's also those who are administrative workers, grounds keepers and those who perform accounting within departments. They like to boast that they work 12 months a year and that they don't go home after grades are turned in.
While many were on lunch break, these Rutgers employees were outside of the Administrative Services Building picketing. They occasionally invoked University President Johnathan Holloway's name. They say they believe that he is the person who could move along negotiations more swiftly.
Meanwhile, union and school representatives were at the bargaining table trying to come up with a deal.
"We are indoors. We are outdoors. We are white collar. We are blue collar,” says Lucye Millerand, executive vice president of the Union of Rutgers Administrators (URA). "We want decent raises you know what inflation is like. We want a salary structure that will reward longevity."
The average yearly salary for URA members is $60,000. When it comes to any increase, the two sides are still far apart. This group of union members also wants the ability to work from home guaranteed within the contract.
It has been 10 days since Rutgers employees agreed to a framework contract deal and went back to work. But with a deal still not complete, the union says it is considering another job action.
“I think it just shows that there’s a lack of respect for employees,” says Rutgers employee Sabine.
Sabine is an accounting specialist with two children who are students at Rutgers. She says she considers her family to be part of the "Rutgers family,” which is why she believes a fair contract will do more than simply raise salaries.
"I think it's more of an acknowledgment of the contribution we make to Rutgers; about the importance we play in making sure this is an excellent university and we produce excellent results,” she says.
Rutgers officials wrote in a statement, "We continue to negotiate on a daily basis and in good faith with the union attorneys and other union representatives. Simultaneously negotiating contracts with multiple bargaining units has been challenging and arduous, but we remain optimistic that our students can complete the semester without interruption and that our graduates and their families will celebrate their academic success at commencement in May."
Graduation at Rutgers begins on May 12.