Tuesday, November 3, 2015

State Negotiations Update

by Bill Sullivan, Internal Vice President
Our statewide negotiating team met with the state’s negotiating team for the third time last week. During the first meeting, we discussed the ground rules for negotiations. During the second meeting we had final agreement on the ground rules. At that meeting, our team was prepared to exchange proposals, but the state’s team was not prepared to do so. Therefore, we withheld our proposals.
At last week’s (third) negotiating session, both sides presented non-economic proposals. The union presented 38 pages of proposals. The state and university/college presidents presented 18 pages of proposals. There are three general themes throughout the state’s/college presidents proposals.
  • The university/college presidents want to move several negotiable items to local campus negotiations. At this time, locally negotiated agreements are only subject to advisory arbitration. That is, when a grievance is brought to arbitration, the administration only has to take the arbitrator’s decision under consideration. In contrast, items negotiated in the statewide master agreement are subject to binding arbitration, where the administration would be bound to follow the arbitrator’s decision. The motivation of the state and the university/college presidents appear to be quite transparent.
  • The university/college presidents propose to make the professional staff at-will employees. The maximum multiyear contract would be reduced from the present five years to three years.
  • Over the past several contracts, the university/college presidents have attempted to remove academic department chairs from our bargaining unit. That is, the administrations have proposed to appoint whomever they choose as department chairs, regardless of the candidate’s credentials or department faculty support. The union has continually rejected that proposal. This time, the presidents’ propose to accomplish this through the back door. They have proposed that department chairs become the first level of supervisor of professional staff within a given department. Such an agreement would invoke a Wilton conflict. According to the Winton decision, a supervisor cannot be in the same bargaining unit as the supervised employee.
At the last negotiating session, we were prepared to exchange economic proposals. The state, however, was not prepared to do so. The state’s chief negotiator stated that she might be able to do so at our next meeting (November 6), but that we would not like the proposal.

New Jersey has an absentee governor whose sole agenda appears to become the Republican Party’s candidate for president. This suggests that this round of negotiations will not begin in earnest until that issue is resolved.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Why Full Membership Is Important

The Local is in the midst of a concerted effort to increase our membership and you can help!
  • Are you aware that negotiating our contract would be a COMPLETELY different experience and better for us if 90% or more of us were full union members? 
  • Did you know it only costs the equivalent of a few cups of coffee per pay period to be a full member?
  • Did you know if we got 100 people to join our solidarity walks each week, the tone local contract negotiations would become very different and provide a strategic advantage for us at the bargaining table?"
Full membership entitles you to all of the benefits of the Local. Agency payers (those choosing not to formally join the union and consequently only pay 85% of the full dues) are still afforded union protection but do not pay the full load putting a larger burden on those who do. Becoming a full member also allows you to vote on contract ratifications, officer elections and come to our meetings to voice your positions. It also gets you the 1 million dollar professional liability policy afforded ONLY to full members.

Being a full supporter of the Local also allows your representatives to protect our mutual professional interests with the State of New Jersey, on salaries, benefits, and the full range of terms and conditions of work. While these activities are guaranteed no matter what level of membership you prefer, full-members strengthen our collective voting power and unifies our efforts. Additionally, the more full members our local has, the better we are represented on the Council of NJ State Locals as with more delegates we are better able to support your interest in issues related to our contract and on the political playfield in Trenton. In brief, your Union protects your employee rights as a Professional Staff, Librarian, or Faculty Member and the higher percentage of membership we have, the better able we are to do that.

If you are not a member and want to become a full member, call Linda Turano in the Local’s office (x4453) and we’ll make sure someone brings you a card. If you are not sure if you are a full member, you can also call Linda to inquire or you can look at your paystub where it will say AFT Member. If it says AFT Agency you are not a full member.

We can’t impress upon you how much membership matters. The difference in dues is trivial and if you have ever asked “What has the union done for me lately?“ This is a way to give us the tools to be more effective and do more. Particularly in this political climate, with this Governor and the current Council of Presidents.

In solidarity,

The Officers of AFT Local 1904

To read more about membership, click here