1435 Morris Avenue - Suite 3A, Union, NJ 07083
Tim Haresign, President

William Paterson Members Mobilize, Put Pressure on
Board of Trustees

On Friday, February 3, WPUNJ faculty and professional staff members, all wearing their AFT t-shirts occupied every available chair, and stood along both walls, even spilling out into the hallway at a university board of trustees (BOT) meeting to address master contract, Local Union and academic concerns. Six faculty and staff including the Local President addressed the Board on the following issues: non-competitive salaries; inequities in workshop compensation; lack of top-down accountability; declining enrollment; disparate graduation and retention rates of female and Black students; undeserved poor institutional reputation; administrative instability; outstanding lawsuits; and legislative dangers—especially S2623 (3+ 1 Bill) S2623 would allow students to earn three years of credit at a community college towards a four year degree at a state college.

The WP Administration had wanted Union President Tardi to sign an agreement that provided additional compensation for faculty who attended training/workshops related to their first year seminar (Pioneer Success Seminar Program), but did not provide commensurate compensation for librarians and professional staff. Librarians and professional staff were expected to charge their time using the Excused Adjustment Code (EXA) on their time sheets. As project-based employees, professional staff must complete their required workload in a timely manner, and WP is the only University that does not have an NL or flextime agreement. Time expended in workshops or training would have to be made up by working additional hours outside of their “normal” workweek; time for which professional staff are not compensated. The Union’s position is that teaching and non-teaching personnel engaged in academic endeavors should be compensated in the same manner.

After months of negotiations, Tardi refused to sign any new memorandum of agreement that was inequitable. Petitions signed by nearly 300 faculty, librarians, and professional staff members were presented at the BOT meeting, respectfully requesting that the Trustees “take action to correct this inequity”. Four days after to the BOT Meeting, Union leadership was informed by University President Waldron that there was a new interim Chief Negotiator for the Administration and “negotiations would continue with quick resolution to the issue”. Shortly thereafter, the interim Chief Negotiator (the Vice President for Administration and Finance), mailed the following:

I wish to inform you that the University is withdrawing its request to negotiate the new terms, discussed with the University’s negotiating team on November 15, 2016, for the proposed “Letter of Agreement between The William Paterson University of New Jersey And AFT Local 1796 Pertaining to Pioneer Success Seminar. The University will continue to compensate those electing to teach the Pioneer Success Seminar and to take part in related training as previously agreed to in the Letter of Agreement. With the revisions to the number of student contact hours taught there will also be a revision to the training time from two days to one day.

Victory for the Union!

The Board was advised to arrange for larger room accommodations for future meetings, since faculty and staff intend to attend every BOT meeting until we have a fair Contract. William Paterson Local 1796 members plan to continue pressuring the administration through a variety of local actions.