Board of Trustees Hears from Faculty Union on Stalled Statewide Contract Negotiations
For Immediate Release; with photos on flickr
Galloway, N.J. - Over 50 members of Stockton’s American Federation of Teachers attended today’s Board of Trustees meeting to ask for support from the board and President Harvey Kesselman in helping to resolve contract negotiations at the state level that have left them working without a contract or raises since 2015.
After asking them all to rise during the public portion of the meeting, Anne Pomeroy, president of the Stockton local and a professor of Philosophy, talked about the fundamental role of teachers at the university.
“We are the ones who directly carry out the mission of this university,” she said, “We are the ones who transform lives. We are the ones students remember.”
She said in addition to working without a contract for two years, they endured a pay freeze in 2011, steep increases in medical contributions, and small raises and a furlough before that.
“There is just so much anyone can take - we can’t take any more and we won’t take any more,” she said.
Tim Haresign, associate professor of Biology and president of the Council of N.J. State College Locals, which represents faculty at nine four-year state colleges, said there is a “misperception that we’re not coming to the table.” He said the state’s management side of the process did not offer any economic proposals until 14 months after the contract ended.
The Office of Employee Relations, part of the executive branch, represents the state in contract negotiations with faculty unions at state colleges and universities.
“We don’t need proxies at the table, we need presidents at the table,” Haresign said.
President Harvey Kesselman said that he has not seen any of the contract proposals, as that is not his role. “I have made calls in the hope that we can get people to the table,” he said, also stating: “We are fighting and will continue to fight on behalf of a fair contract.”
But he said that all the other stakeholders have to do what Stockton’s faculty has done.
“I could not be more pleased - it’s great to see this faculty united, now we’ve got to get the rest of the state” united, he said.
Board Expresses Support for Stockton Safe
In another matter, board Chair Madeleine Deininger expressed the board’s support for ongoing efforts to ensure that the university protects the identity and information of all members of the Stockton community regardless of immigration status, to the fullest extent permitted by law.
President Kesselman, Executive Vice President Susan Davenport and members of the cabinet met with student leaders including student trustees, the presidents of the Student Senate and the Unified Black Students Society (UBSS) last week to discuss a Student Senate resolution seeking protections for undocumented students, faculty or staff.
They came to a consensus on the idea of declaring the university “Stockton Safe,” which includes a number of protective measures that are already in place, and will also provide additional support.
They agreed to further discuss the idea with other stakeholders, including the trustees, faculty, staff and other students before they meet again this Friday with plans to come to a final agreement.
The “Stockton Safe” approach aligns with the actions of the New Jersey Legislature, which last week passed resolutions affirming that college campuses should “continue to serve as a safe zone and resource center for students and their families threatened by immigration enforcement or discrimination.
Kesselman said student leaders including Senate President Maryam Sarhan, UBSS President Mahalia Bazile, student Kaltoum Alibrahimi, student trustee Cristian Moreno and alternate student trustee Ike Ejikeme “represented their constituents in as articulate and intense a manner as possible and I could not be more proud to be the president of this institution, having students who acted as they did.”
Moreno, a resident of Atlantic City, said he grew up among undocumented residents of the community. “I can tell you the fear is real,” he said.
“I’ve never been more proud of my institution and I’ve never been more proud of the students,” he said. “One group was missing from the negotiations - undocumented students,” he said. “But I received messages saying what we did mattered” to them.
In other business, the board:
- Approved the Fall 2017-Spring 2018 school calendar, with classes beginning on Sept. 5, 2017 and Commencement set for May 11, 2018.
- Approved a total of $17,545 in funding from the Spring Provost Faculty Opportunity Fund for 13 projects. They include some initiatives that speak to the university’s global perspectives, such as:
- Support for Elizabeth Lacey, assistant professor of Marine Science, to complete a site visit to the Gandiol Eco Center in Senegal, to continue developing a field course experience for Stockton students in the Marine Science, Environmental Studies or Sustainability programs. The Gandiol Eco Center is a unique field facility with partnerships with the Langue de Barbarie National Park and the Saint-Louis Universite Gaston Berger in Senegal.
- Support for Chia-Lin Wu, professor of Mathematics, to develop a joint project with National Chiayi University and National Chung Cheng University, both located in Taiwan, to improve pre-service mathematics teachers’ performance through collaboration.
- A medical mission to Haiti, in which Mark Adelung, a visiting assistant professor of Nursing, will travel as part of a medical team to provide care for people who are still displaced from their homes since a devastating earthquake in 2010.