NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Members of a union representing some 1,400 clinical and research physicians at Rutgers are accusing the university's administration of dragging its feet in labor negotiations.
They said they became more embittered when one recent bargaining session was canceled, yet watched as the Board of Governors held an emergency meeting on Dec. 3 to approve football coach Greg Schiano's contract.
Members of the AAUP-BHSNJ at Rutgers University’s Biomedical and Health Sciences said at Tuesday's Board of Governors meeting that the university should be focused on resolving the labor issues with a union whose contract expired on June 30, 2018.
Further, they said the university should be focused on working out a labor deal with a group that furthers the sort of cutting-edge scientific and medical research the university prides itself on rather than "shell out $32 million for a football coach."
Todd Vachon, a postdoctoral associate in the school of management and labor relations, said it was a "slap in the face" considering the fact that the annual salaries of the 600 or so postdoctoral researchers ($29 million) would be a lower figure than the sum of Schiano's eight-year contract ($32 million).
"I am using my public comment today to demand that the university recognize the value of the work that we do, to treat us with dignity and respect, to bargain in good faith and to address our major concerns," Vachon said.
Vachon and other union members said the next contract should include a minimum salary of $60,000 "so that we can afford to live in this, one of the most expensive housing markets in America."
Mateo Leganes, a postdoctoral researcher, said that many of the union's rank and file are drawing entry-level salaries and are paid less than $43,000 a year.
"As a psychologist," he said, "I am very aware of the high rise in mental health issues among (postdoctoral researchers). Low wages, lack of job security and lack of recognition are a big part of the problem here."
A Rutgers spokesperson provided TAPinto with the following statement:
"The University has reached agreements with 16 of its unions, representing over 18,239 employees for contracts that took effect on July 1, 2018," according to the statement. "The University has worked diligently to resolve open issues and reach agreement as quickly as possible with the additional bargaining units. Negotiations are ongoing and mandatorily negotiable terms and conditions of employment will be discussed at the negotiating table with the appropriate bargaining team representatives from the administration and the unions."