Both adjunct and full-time professors protested throughout Montclair State University’s campus wanting answers from the state regarding a teacher contract on Wednesday, Nov. 13.
Adjunct professors and full-time faculty in New Jersey have been teaching without an updated contract since July 1 due to negotiations between the state of New Jersey and the teachers’ unions. Since the spring 2019 semester, some adjunct professors have been negotiating for a contract settlement, with no resolution.
Negotiations for the new contract were slated to start Oct. 2018, as specified in the previous contract, with the intention of updating it by July 2019.
Due to the slowly moving negotiations, professors are protesting to put pressure on the state to proceed more quickly. These protests have been given the name “Solidarity Walks” by those who organize them and have taken place every Wednesday.
President Susan Cole further explained the status of these contracts.
“The collective bargaining agreements are in negotiation now,” Cole said. “[The contracts] are not negotiated by the university, [they] are negotiated by the governor’s office of employee relations, and they are actually going better than they have in prior contract years.”
According to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) website, “As we are currently working without a contract, and given that some of our Local negotiations are moving more slowly than we would like, demonstrating our solidarity is as important as ever.”
In addition to weekly protests, Montclair State’s AFT Local is using a postcard campaign to bring the issue to the New Jersey governor’s attention in hopes that the proceedings will be prioritized.
Freshman pre-major Richard Paida believes the professors work hard and should have fair contracts.
“Teachers have the right to a contract, many teachers are worried about their future in the career they worked so hard to get,” Paida said.
Many professors are deeply unsettled by their lack of contracts. Mary Wallace, a representative for adjunct faculty of the Council of New Jersey State College Locals, is pushing for negotiations to be settled.
“They want to give the adjuncts a lot less [than the requested amount],” Wallace said. “We have very prestigious adjuncts, but the university considers adjuncts worthless. We need pressure, we need students to join us.”
An issue being tackled in negotiations is that of equity in pay. Adjunct professors are requesting their pay be raised to what a full-time professor would make for teaching a summer course. Adjunct professors are currently making less than what they are asking for.
Some students agree that adjunct professors should receive the pay they are requesting.
“So many of them do so much, sometimes just as much as full-time faculty,” Teresa Yates, junior music major, said. “They should be getting paid more.”
While negotiations are moving along, those being affected the most are doing what they can to nudge proceedings toward an agreement, even if that means standing in the cold.