WPU Unions Rally Over Stalled Pacts
Published: Monday, October 31, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 12:11
William Paterson University Union Members rallied outside the library on Monday to demand what they believe is rightfully due to them.
The American Federal of Teacher Local 1796, Communication Workers of America Local 1031 and International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 195 held a workers' rally, urging fair negotiations from administrators.
"We are currently working without a contract," explained Nadine Aktan, a professor from the nursing department. "We want a contract and we want one now."
Demonstrations happened across the state in several campuses. The assembly at WPU had union supporters rendering
"I make a difference" shirts, carrying signs that read "stop the attacks."
"I'm here for a couple of things," said Daphne Joslin, a public health professor. "The lack of a contract and the demand by the university's presidents in this contract is really an attempt to undercut the strength of the union and undercut the voice of the faculty…we have a lot stake in terms of our health benefits and our pensions- we're paying more."
Joslin added some of their demands are not economical based.
She said the administration no longer wants to give them union observers on committees, who determine many of the factors that impact faculty.
"It's an unfair situation," refuted Joslin.
Susanna Tardi, a sociologist professor and president of AFT Local 1796 explained presidents from nine universities negogiate one contract for AFT, but three are behind the state demands; George Pruitt, from Thomas Edison State College; Susan Cole from Montclair State University; and Barbara Gitenstein from The College of New Jersey.
Therefore, union supporters are urging the other presidents who claim to want to work cooperatively with unions, to speak up. But so far, they have not.
"We're asking, if they don't agree with those presidents, they should be writing to the governor, telling them that they don't agree because some of the demands being made have nothing to do with economics," said Tardi. "They just have to do with wanting to weaken the power of the union and put more autonomy in the hands of board of trustees and presidents."
There are approximately 3200 members in the teachers' union and many of them are uncomfortable because some live from paycheck to paycheck. As of now, negotiations have been very slow, while the university and the state have not done anything in respect.
"Negotiate means to give and take and so far we haven't seen much giving and taking at the negiotation table," said Tardi. "And now the [November] elections may be a part of it… it may be stalling things."
The recent event was an awareness rally to demonstrated the state how important teachers and staff are to institutions and to the lives of students.
"We are WPU and we make a difference in our students," said Tardi. "We make a difference in running the institutions and we wanted them to listen to us and realize they need to negotiate in good faith and fairly, and they need to negotiate now."
Union attacks are nothing new. Tardi said Gov. Chris Christie is not a fan of tenure and has not been very supportive of teachers.
She said he has no respect for unions and believes his whole political campaign has been attempt to bring down unions.
"The unfortunate part about our contract is that the governor has the right to what they called imposition," said Tardi. "He can declare his last best offer… whatever he considers fair…[we're] hoping the governor…insists of negotiating fairly."
Tardi said the university has always had a positive relationship between the administration and the union and they would like that relationship to continue
"The faculty at WPU care about the students, but it wouldn't be us hurting the students, it's the state hurting the students."