AFT Local #2375 – Representing Full-Time and Adjunct Faculty at Raritan Valley Community College, Somerville NJ
BRANCHURG – The teachers union at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) is putting pressure on the administration to schedule a date for contract bargaining.
Pattiann Kletz, president of RVCC Faculty Federation-American Federation of Teachers, said instructors at the college are “frustrated with substandard wage proposals and lack of progress” and called on the administration to “show good faith” and schedule a new day to start bargaining in earnest.
“To offer such low raises devalues the entire college community and what we do for students,” Kletz said while addressing the college’s board of trustees at a meeting on May 20, according to a news release.
“Raritan Valley Community College deeply values the work of its faculty and staff and understands the challenges of the current financial climate,” Donna Stolzer, a RVCC spokesperson, said in a statement. “However, the College cannot comment on current contract negations and believes that offers made at the table are confidential until settled.”
According to Kletz, a business professor at RVCC, the raises offered are far below inflation and comparable settlements at other community colleges and school districts. A delegation of approximately 25 faculty members attended the board meeting, wearing “Fair Contract Now” stickers.
“We are proud to be a part of our students’ educational path, but it becomes very difficult to work at a place when we feel we are being disrespected time and time again in contract negotiations,” Schwarz said.
Faculty have been working with the administration in the face of enrollment declines to save money for the school, according to Anne Marie Anderson, an accounting professor at the college.
As department chair, Anderson has been working to identify savings and combining smaller classes where possible.
RVCC faculty have been losing ground in compensation in comparison with peers at New Jersey community colleges, according to Maria DeFilippis, a lawyer who runs the college’ paralegal program.
“We are falling way behind everyone else who works in the region,” she said, according to the release.
According to Megan Dempsey, instructional services librarian, the combined raises offered to faculty for three years are less than this year’s Social Security cost-of-living raise and less than raises in Somerset and Hunterdon counties school systems.
“We have faculty who are working two jobs, just to keep from slipping backwards financially,” Dempsey said. “The current offer doesn’t even come close to helping us keep up with the cost of living.”
“We put our heart and soul into our work and this college,” English professor Karen Gaffney said. “We feel we should be compensated at a rate commensurate with our colleagues across the state, so we are challenging the board to work with us to come to an agreement.”