Dear Members of the AFT,
A number of you have recently expressed concerns about the contract negotiation with the State and have asked me to weigh in on several issues including the role I play as President in those negotiations, my position regarding their current status, and what steps should be taken in support of a fair and equitable contract for members of the AFT.
I share your desire to see a contract ratified as soon as possible – one that is fair and equitable for our faculty and staff. I have repeatedly stated this position at meetings of NJASCU and the NJ Presidents’ Council. Timely resolution of contract negotiations will ensure the continued good relations among faculty, staff, students, and administration that are the hallmark of the high quality education offered at Ramapo.
It goes without saying that the financial terms of the new contract will be tempered by current economic conditions and the flat funding of colleges by the state. This, of course, is part of a larger issue regarding overall funding for public higher education in New Jersey. Ramapo receives the same amount, in nominal dollars, from the State of New Jersey that it received in 1994 when there were a third fewer students.
In these negotiations, the State Colleges are represented by the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations. The State negotiators do communicate with the College Presidents but we otherwise have a limited role in the negotiations process. The situation would of course be different if negotiations henceforth could be conducted locally but I understand that the AFT does not favor this change.
While progress in contract talks has been slow until recently, I do not believe there is any foundation for suggesting that either side has not bargained in good faith. I will continue to express my hopes to NJASCU, the NJ Presidents’ Council and the OER that a fair resolution be reached quickly. I urge the AFT to do the same with its own representatives.
Peter P. Mercer