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Contract Bargaining Report #2

Our team was back at the negotiating table with the administration Tuesday, July 25th, and we’re happy to report on our second bargaining session.

Using the information we’ve collected over the last academic year through hundreds of in-person interviews, and supplemented with all of your responses to our recent bargaining surveys, we put forward a batch of creative proposals that would dramatically improve the lives and working conditions for the nearly 800 academic workers that will be covered under any future contracts.

Among many other things, we put forward proposals to:

Significantly raise adjunct salaries and create a system of additional ranks of Adjunct Instructor II and III with higher salaries and multi-year contracts,
Raise graduate employee wages to the level of parity with Rutgers salaries and lower the expected clock hour workload from 20 to 15,
Early mandatory deadlines for reappointment for all covered employees,
Full tuition remission for adjuncts and their dependent children,
Lowered parking costs for all covered employees,
Paid orientations for all new employees to provide them with access to necessary information and resources in order to perform effectively at work
Expanded sick and personal leave for all covered employees,
Unused vacation payout for research employees and post-docs

We also formally requested information from the administration around issues of graduate employee summer funding, health insurance plans for all covered employees, and mandatory fees in order to have accurate data with which to craft specific improvements which we will also submit soon.

The administration spent the session listening to our proposals, and informed us that they would give us a complete response at our next session, as well as some proposals of their own. We agreed on multiple bargaining dates in late August to give them time to prepare, and are ready to work hard to reach a fair settlement soon.

Susan Bristol, Adjunct Instructor, CoAD
Subash K. Ray, Research Assistant, Biology
Jeffrey Reaves, Adjunct Instructor, NCE
Patrick Nowlan, Executive Director, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Joe Richard, Organizer, AAUP-AFT
Victoria Pacheco, Staff Associate, AAUP-AFT
Jacob Chaffin, Organizer, AAUP-AFT

Contract Bargaining Report 1

June 28, 2017

It’s our pleasure to report to you on our first bargaining session with the administration of NJIT, which took place on Tuesday afternoon, June 27th. Given that this was our first meeting between our union’s bargaining team and representatives from the administration, it was a short session focused mainly around introductions and outlining our goals in broad strokes.

We told the administration that we anticipate bargaining in good faith and working to achieve just and equitable contracts improving the wages and working conditions for all graduate employees, adjuncts, and post-doctoral researchers in every academic unit at NJIT. We told them we are eager to get to work negotiating, and that we intend to spend the summer putting forward concrete proposals for their consideration.

The administration’s team responded to us, and though we can anticipate areas of disagreement, their lead negotiator assured us of treating our union’s bargaining team and the entire workforce with respect and dignity. We plan to hold them to their promise. We committed to working straightaway to get into meaningful negotiations with them and commit our proposals to paper for them to review.

During our recent unionization campaign, adjunct, post-doc and graduate employee members of our Organizing Committee met with and interviewed hundreds of people all across NJIT from different backgrounds. We heard loud and clear the serious issues we need to improve upon at NJIT.

UCAN Bargaining Team
Susan Bristol, CoAD, Adjunct Instructor
Jeff Reaves, NCE, Adjunct Instructor
Subash K. Ray, Biology, Research Assistant
Patrick Nolan, Rutgers AAUP-AFT Executive Director
Joe Richard, Rutgers AAUP-AFT Organizer
Jacob Chaffin, Rutgers AAUP-AFT Organizer

April General Membership Meeting

On February 22nd, United Council of Academics at NJIT (UCAN) held an election to ratify a constitution, which included an affiliation and alliance with the Rutgers Council of AAUP Chapters, and to elect interim-Officers. This election represented a major step forward for UCAN in pursuit of building a strong labor organization for academic workers on campus. In accordance with the constitution, UCAN must hold another election for the coming year.

Important Voting Info:
General Membership Meeting and Election Nominations
When: Monday, April 10th
Where: Campus Center 240

General Election– April 26th and 27th

You must be a member of UCAN to participate and vote in the upcoming election.

We will be holding the first General Membership Meeting on April 10th where we will be accepting nominations for the following positions:
– serves on the Executive Board and committees, represents UCAN in all official capacities, and is responsible for annual reports the membership.

Vice President– serves in the absence of the president, maintains official non-financial records of the organization, oversees the Elections Committee.

Secretary– Treasurer- oversee and maintain all financial and membership records.

Executive Board– Meet monthly to set policy for the organization. Open seats for:
One graduate employee or postdoctoral fellow

All information pertaining to the duties of the Executive Committee can be found in Article VI and V of the UCAN Constitution. To request a copy of the constitution, please respond to this email and a copy will be delivered to you.

UCAN Officers and Executive Committee members can be nominated:
From the Floor— Nominations may be made from the floor of the April 10th General Membership Meeting, with candidates approved by vote of the membership meeting.

By Petition–To be nominated a candidate must submit to the Elections Committee a petition containing the signatures of twenty (20) signed up union members. Petitions must be submitted by the April 10th General Membership Meeting.

Any signed-up union member is eligible to hold office. Members nominated to run for office must affirmatively accept their nomination, and the terms for all positions are 1 year.

Elections for UCAN officers will be held by secret ballot on April 26th and 27th. The majority of the ballots cast shall determine the outcome of the election. Results of the election will be published and notifications will be sent to members after fifteen (15) days of the election.

Only members of UCAN will be allowed to vote in the election. The mission of UCAN is to create an active membership that sets the priorities and activities of the union for continued organizing and advocacy. I have attached a membership form to this email. In order to vote  you must fill out and return the membership form.

Wednesday, Feb. 22: Constitution Vote

Constitution vote
Download to Print

In order to lay the foundation for a permanent and strong union organization, members will be voting to adopt a draft constitution, elect officers, and decide upon affiliations with local, state, and national organizations. Members of UCAN will be able to vote to ratify the constitution and elect officers on Wednesday, February 22nd. 

We will be holding a vote by secret ballot in the Robeson Center— Hudson Rm 255 (Rutgers campus, 350 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd ) from 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM. You can stop by at any time during those hours to review the constitution, ask questions, join the union and vote. In order to vote, you must first become a member of the union by filling out a membership card.

Please contact Jacob Chaffin with any questions.

Time for a new deal at NJIT

What is United Council of Academics at NJIT (UCAN)?
All Graduate Student Assistants, Graduate Student Teaching Assistants, Graduate Student Research Assistants, Postdoctoral Research Associates, Research Associates, Research Architects/Engineers/Scientists, and University-paid (non-grant funded) full time Teaching Fellows are members of the United Academics at NJIT (UCAN-NJIT) union bargaining unit.

What is in the contract?
A collective bargaining contract defines the pay you receive including raises. Members have already benefited from pay increases we bargained. Equally importantly, when we started negotiating NJIT did not offer full health benefits for graduate workers at NJIT. The contract protects tuition remission, and offers a legally binding grievance process for solving problems.

How can you help?
Set up an informal department meeting to host an AFT representative to give a 15-minute overview of the contract and take questions about the contract and membership. Contact us to set up a departmental meeting.

Join the union

Join the Union

Now is the time to join the United Council of Academics at NJIT. You can complete the membership application online.

You need to be a member to vote on the contract and constitution. Shouldn’t you have a voice?
The strength of UCAN is in the membership. Membership is voluntary. Members benefit by full participation in the union with voting privileges on important union issues including contract ratification, elections of officers and participation in meetings and committees that directly affect your working conditions.

Membership is the right thing to do. Join today by following the instructions above or contacting us to discuss membership.

New Jersey Institute of Technology graduate students, researchers seek to form union

By Kelly Heyboer/ The Star-Ledger, May 21, 2010

UCAN Ledger article
Jerry McCrea/The Star-LedgerAli Avni Cirik, of Turkey, is an NJIT graduate student helping organize one of the first labor unions for student workers in the state. New Jersey Institute of Technology graduate students and research workers recently petitioned the state to form their own union to fight for better pay and benefits for students who teach and work on campus.

TRENTON — Frustrated by low pay and limited health benefits, graduate students and researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology have petitioned the state to form their own labor union.

If the request is approved, the public university will have to negotiate a contract with the nearly 430 student teaching assistants and postdoctoral researchers who will make up the new union on the Newark campus. The workers — who are paid an average of less than $18,000 a year — say they want higher salaries, better health care and improved working conditions for graduate students who teach classes and assist with research projects.

“I honestly think we can change the environment at NJIT,” said Ali Avni Cirik, 27, one of the doctoral students who helped organize the union movement on campus.

Union officials said the new unit — called the United Council of Academics at NJIT — would be the second of its kind in the state. Rutgers University teaching assistants and graduate students unionized in 1972, helping spark similar campus movements around the country as budget-conscious universities turned to inexpensive graduate student labor to teach more classes.

NJIT students said they were inspired to organize after seeing their counterparts on the neighboring Rutgers-Newark campus were earning better pay and benefits for the same teaching and research work.

“We said, why don’t we do this? Why don’t we form a union?” said Cirik, a native of Turkey working as a teaching assistant in NJIT’s information systems department.

The average salary for a Rutgers teaching assistant or graduate assistant is about $23,100 for a 10-month appointment or $26,350 for a 12-month appointment, union officials said. By comparison, the average NJIT teaching assistant earns less than $18,000 for a 10-month appointment. Most students teach or do research part-time while working on their own master’s or Ph.D. degrees.

NJIT students submitted their union petition to the state Public Employment Relations Commission in Trenton earlier this month. The paperwork includes cards signed by more than half the 430 workers who would be included in the new union, PERC officials said.

The commission will spend the next several weeks researching whether the students meet the requirements to unionize. The new unit would be affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, a union that represents professors and other workers at more than a dozen New Jersey colleges.

NJIT officials declined to comment on the students’ efforts to organize. If the union is approved, NJIT will have to open contract negotiations with the teaching assistants and researchers in the midst of statewide budget cuts.

Shilan Motamedvaziri, a graduate student from Iran, said she spent weeks telling fellow teaching assistants about the union and encouraging them to sign the cards for the petition. Though many of NJIT’s graduate students are from outside the U.S., and some were unfamiliar with the concept of an American union, they quickly embraced the idea.

Motamedvaziri said she earns about $18,000 a year working 20 hours a week as a teaching assistant in a chemical dynamics course. If the union is approved, she said, students will have to decide what issues to fight for in labor negotiations.

“The next step for us is to find out what the students mostly want,” said Motamedvaziri, 30, of Lyndhurst.


Statement of Support from Faculty and Staff Union @ NJIT

The PSA/AAUP is the largest union at NJIT representing more than 700 faculty, professional staff, and university lecturers.  You may not know it, but you likely work with our members on a daily basis.  Our members include Associate Deans, Department Chairpersons, full-time instructors, faculty program directors, department administrators, and other professional staff from departments like financial aid and academic computing.

The PSA has been in existence since the early 1970’s and remains a strong and effective unit.  The PSA negotiates the terms and conditions of employment for its members with the administration.  The PSA/AAUP has been successful at negotiating competitive pay and benefits for our members.  Most recently, the PSA successfully negotiated an agreement, covering the period through June 30, 2011, that includes pay increases, and improves job security for many of our members.

The PSA/AAUP serves as an advocate and voice for its members.  The collective agreement allows for basic workplace expectations and entitles its members to due process.  The PSA works hard to achieve the best results for its members and ultimately for the good of the university. Because the PSA/AAUP and its members have experienced first-hand the benefits of collective bargaining, we would support an NJIT group seeking representation and the entitlements of a voice in the workplace.  Together, we all can make a positive difference.

The PSA/AAUP. Approved: April 1, 2010.