NJ college unions step up their push for new state labor contracts

David Madden
November 20, 2019 - 1:46 pm
AFT local 2373 President Dr. Joseph Basso and Vice President Gerald Hough sign a petition board at Rowan University.

Courtesy of Lori Block

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GLASSBORO, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Unionized faculty members at nine New Jersey colleges are taking their push for a new contract with the state to the public.

The Council of New Jersey State College Locals does not include Rutgers or the state Institute of Technology. But the umbrella group of nine unions represents 10,000 professors, librarians and professional staffers. Their contract expired in June.

They want to address salaries, of course, and also a hiring trend that Joseph Basso, president of the local at Rowan University, finds disturbing: an increasing use of adjunct, non-tenured professors.

"What they're looking to do is hire faculty, in essence," Basso told KYW Newsradio. "People to deliver the classroom product who are low wage and have no guarantee of employment beyond one year contracts."

That, in Basso's view, creates instability for students and staffers alike.

"Could you imagine the public school system having 50% of its teachers on one-year contracts, not knowing whether they're going to come back to work next year?" he added. "Think of the difference in the dynamic in the classroom environment. It's really problematic, and it's all over the battle over budgets and money."

It took two years to settle on their last contract with the Christie administration, and Basso hopes Phil Murphy, given his pro-labor position, will get more involved.

A spokeswoman for the governor declined to comment.