To the Editor:
The labor contract covering the faculty of Raritan Valley Community College expired on June 30 and the College and its students are facing the prospect of faculty returning at the end of August for the beginning of classes feeling undervalued and disrespected.
At the June meeting of the College’s Board of Trustee’s, the faculty union president, Pattiann Kletz, told the board, “The union’s bargaining team has worked diligently to negotiate a contract that addresses the college’s fiscal situation and, at the same time, is fair to dedicated faculty members.”
After nine months of negotiations and a mediation session, the College continues to offer salary increases well below other county and state colleges. The College’s offer does not even keep pace with inflation and the expiration of the contract forced every faculty member to pay an average of 2 percent more for healthcare, netting the College a substantial savings. The union’s last proposal would have saved the College approximately $200,000 a year in various cost-cutting measures, essentially funding their own pay increases.
Last year in NJ, the average salary increase for teachers in K-12 was 2.9 percent and current settlements at the county and state colleges average 3%. “The college is offering us less than that over the life of our contract, sending a message that they don’t value our work.” Kletz explained, “Raritan Valley faculty deserve modest pay increases that are comparable to the increases received by faculty at other county and state colleges and universities.”
Raritan Valley, as is the case with most colleges, depends on its faculty for more than just teaching. In any given year, the 119 full-time professors at Raritan Valley contribute thousands of volunteer hours, reaching out to companies to organize career nights and job fairs, advising numerous student clubs and honor societies and forging alliances in the community for our students and programs.
“Faculty will continue to do their best for the students, but how can we continue to do all the extra unpaid work we do when we don’t have a contract?” Kletz asked the board. “The lack of a fair contract shows disrespect for our faculty and impacts morale across the board. Devaluing your faculty is never in the best interests of a college.”
The Raritan Valley Community College Faculty Federation represents full and adjunct faculty.
RVCC Faculty Union President