All posts by Arseniy Gutnik

Bargaining Report #5: No Raises Unacceptable

Thank you to everyone for coming out yesterday to show your support for a fair adjunct contract! We had a successful action that featured 25 or 30 adjuncts and their supporters holding “I Love Adjunct Unionization” signs, and then went back to the table with the administration bargaining over an adjunct contract. Our action had an impact inside the room, by showing the administration’s team that adjuncts at NJIT are watching closely what happens. Tomorrow we will negotiate over a graduate and research employee contract.

On Monday the 25th we received a more complete offer from the administration, which included more counter-proposals but still no language around access to health care. We went back and forth with them over the issue of guaranteed office space and resources for adjuncts, support in the classroom from TA’s for large class sizes, paid orientations for all new adjunct hires, a fair and efficient grievance procedure, and also wages.

We made it clear to them that a 0.0% increase is absolutely unacceptable, especially in a context where NJIT is on a solid financial footing, tuition and enrollment continue to rise (as well as administrative salaries), and the administration has continued plowing millions of dollars into acquiring new property in the surrounding community and launching new construction projects. Adjuncts deserve a fair wage increase and we are waiting for a good faith economic offer.

Our next date for adjunct bargaining is set for October 11th, in order for us to receive the final counter-proposals from the administration and to formally counter their offers. We very much look forward to getting back to the table and continuing to fight for a fair adjunct contract.

Also, mark your calendars now! Our monthly General Membership Meeting for October is set for Monday, October 16th from 4:30 to 6:00 pm in Room TBA of the NJIT campus center. We’ll see you there!

Your Bargaining Team,
Susan Bristol, Adjunct Instructor, CoAD
Jeffrey Reaves, Adjunct Instructor, NCE
Patrick Nowlan, Executive Director, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Vicky Pacheco, Staff Associate, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Joe Richard, Lead Organizer, Rutgers AAUP-AFT

Bargaining Report #4: NJIT Offers Adjuncts 0.0% Raises

Important Information: We need you to join us at bargaining on Tuesday, September 26th at 2:00pm on the 5th

Along with rejecting our proposals for longer term contracts, language around promotions, guarantees of significant timelines for reappointment, seniority, and basic requests for union stability like wifi access, they offered literally nothing for salary increases for adjunct instructors. Zip. Zero. By proposing the current salary minimum of $1,300 per credit hour as their economic offer for the 2018 academic year, they’ve proposed that hundreds of adjunct instructors receive no raises for the life of our contract.

Their team also didn’t respond to the final 11 articles in our proposed adjunct instructor contract. To our negotiating team, this hardly signifies a good faith effort to negotiate a fair agreement.

We were at the negotiating table again yesterday, the first time since August 22nd. We argued with the administration over issues of longer term contracts, the need for stable and continuous employment for adjunct instructors, and the real need for significant amounts of advance notice about teaching classes. We also formally requested a clear answer as to the minimum enrollment numbers before a class is cancelled.

floor of Fenster Hall. Adjunct Instructors deserve a fair contract that recognizes our professional contributions to NJIT!

After cancelling a bargaining session in early September and repeated delays in sending our team their counter-proposal, the NJIT administration finally responded to our proposed contract covering adjunct instructors, and it was a whopper: 0.0%

We will be back at the table on the afternoon of Tuesday, September 26th. We expect a full counter-proposal by that time, and look forward to receiving a serious economic offer, given the university’s strong financial position, as recently reported by the NJIT Chief Financial Officer at a recent Faculty Senate meeting.

But we need your help. We want to show the administration that adjunct instructors are a valuable part of the NJIT community, and that we expect a fair contract that recognizes our contributions to be bargained on time and in good faith.

Will you join us on Tuesday, September 26th at 2:00pm on the 5th floor of Fenster Hall to stand with your colleagues? Please RSVP so we can bring union t-shirts for everyone!

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.