Rutgers Budget Analysis Interview
In December 2010, the URA's Communications Committee sat down with Christina Towne, a research analyst who has been helping URA assess the university’s fiscal situation vis-à-vis the ongoing wage freeze. Comparing recently released figures for fiscal year 2010 with those from previous years, Christina helped us to interpret whether or not Rutgers can, in fact, pay the wage increases that they have been denying faculty and staff. Out of our conversation came three main points, all of which lead us to conclude that yes, they can.
- Every year RU’s audited financial statements show that the university is making money, but every year its budgetary statements claim to be losing money. In net auxiliary income alone (brought in from housing, dining, and sports), RU’s revenue in FY 2009 was $11.106 million, and by FY 2010, that figure had increased to $14.793 million. Thus, even as university officials claimed to be losing money in auxiliary, they were showing a surplus.
- At the end of fiscal year 2010, RU had more money in cash, or assets that could be converted to cash in 90 days, than ever before. At the end of fiscal year 2008, RU held $73.946 million as cash in banks and money market accounts; in 2009, that figure had increased to $100.132 million; and by June 30, 2010, as Rutgers was implementing the wage freeze, that figure had increased to $173.546 million.
- Ultimately, the numbers show that the money is there. In the public sector, the bottom line is the difference between net assets at the beginning of the year and net assets at the end of the year. On June 30, 2009, RU’s net assets were $2.309 billion. By a year later, they had grown $2.426 billion. So, at the end of the day, when the wage freeze went into effect, RU had more money and assets—whether in cash, investments, or buildings—than a year before, by $117 million. And yet, it would have cost less than $23-25 million to pay raises to the entire university, including faculty, AFSCME workers, URA staff, and police. To pay just URA members last year’s raises would have cost only $3 million.
In light of RU’s gains in net assets and the large liquidity of those assets, the wage freeze emerges as a policy rooted not in need but opportunism, not responsible austerity but blatant greed. By using the recession as a boogeyman to exploit workers’ fears of a devastated economy and bleak job market, the administration has shirked its contractual obligations under false pretenses and has in this way shown itself to be morally, not financially, bankrupt.
Salary Freeze 2010 Arbitration: Read the Union's Brief
“Rutgers not only promised URA that the deferred raise would be paid as scheduled in the MOA, it made that same promise to the State in order to receive the 5.25% of its allocation that would have otherwise been withheld. Rutgers is not free to break either of these promises. The URA negotiations unit must, therefore, receive retroactive payment in full of the June 30, 2010 deferred raise promised in the MOA.”
BRIEF ON BEHALF OF URA-AFT Local 1766, Submitted by Bennet Zurofsky, Esq.
URA’s grievance on the Rutgers 2010 salary freeze is finally in the hands of Arbitrator Robert Light. This complicated and unnecessary process began on June 10, when Old Queens decided to break the Memorandum of Agreement which they had signed with our union in December 2009. The process included: protests and demonstrations by URA, AAUP AFSCME and Doctor’s Council, as well as labor supporters and students, an Order to Show Cause filed with the Public Employee Relations Commission by the attorneys for the four unions, nearly 1000 documents entered into evidence, six days of hearings, submission of written briefs and finally, rebuttal briefs.
Beginning in June, Rutgers management has argued that neither our contract nor the Memorandum of Agreement requires them either to pay the negotiated raises, or to demonstrate that they are unable to pay. President McCormick and Vice President Furmanski have tried to convince even our members that their actions are permitted under our contract.
The brief prepared by URA’s attorney, Bennet Zurofsky, Esq. and his reply to the brief submitted by John Peirano, Esq. ( the outside attorney hired to represent management) explain the union’s side of this case in depth. They explain the fundamental dishonesty in the way Old Queens has negotiated and interpreted contract language since the first salary freeze in 2009.
Please feel free to read all or some of these important documents on the URA website at http://www.ura-aft.org/node/587.
Upcoming Meeting Dates:
General Membership Meeting
When: Mon., February 14 @ 5:30pm
Agenda: Budget Report, Grievance Report, Grievance Analysis Report, Work Stress & Health Benefits Briefing
Where: Teleconferenced between three campuses.
Camden: Armitage Hall, Dean's Conference Room.
Newark: Special Collections Rm., Dana Library, 4th Floor.
New Brunswick: Labor Education Center, Room 133.
Campus Lunchtime Meeting
College Ave: Wed., Feb. 16 @ 12:00-1:00pm, Center for Historical Analysis, Basement Conf. Rm., 88 College Ave.
- Newark: Thurs., Feb. 24 @ 12:30-1:30pm, Dana Library, Special Collections Rm., 4th Fl.