Rutgers University and its largest faculty union have reached a tentative four-year agreement that, if approved by members, would include across-the-board raises and require the university to declare a fiscal emergency before freezing salaries.
The agreement with the American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers, announced Thursday in messages sent to faculty, would cover nearly 4,700 of its members. Rutgers has been in contract negotiations with unions that represent 20,000 of its more than 24,400 faculty and staff.
Two other unions, Communications Workers of America Local 1040 and International Union of Operating Engineers Local 68, announced Thursday that they had ratified new four-year contracts through June 30, 2018 that include two percent pay raises per year for the first three years and a 2.25 percent increase the final year.
The Rutgers AAUP-AFT contract would be retroactive to Sept. 1, 2014, and run through June 30, 2018. The previous contract expired Aug. 31, 2014.
Faculty members under the contract — including tenured and tenure-track professors and graduate and teaching assistants — would see an immediate, across-the-board annual raise of $2,345, retroactive to September. Beginning July 1, 2015, some faculty would receive merit raises of up to 10 percent, for an average of two percent increase that year.
Across-the-board raises of 2.125 percent would take effect the third year, 2016, and another merit raise program of up to 10 percent would take effect July 1, 2017, for an average of 2.125 percent increase that year.
"Rutgers strives to compensate its employees fairly; we have always placed a high value on faculty and staff excellence, and we have provided our employees with salary and benefit packages that are among the most competitive in the nation for public research universities," Rutgers spokesman Greg Trevor wrote in a statement.
Raises are particularly large for new faculty at the bottom of the salary ladder.
The minimum annual pay for a full-time, non-tenure-track faculty member on any campus will increase to $56,169, from $39,058, a 43.8 percent increase.
Assistant professors — entry-level tenure-track faculty — will see their minimum pay increase to $61,786, from $44,839, a 37.8 percent increase.
Rutgers unions have been in negotiations with the university for months, with "Reclaim Rutgers" events across the campuses. One of the major sticking points: a "subject to" clause that tied raises to university funding. That clause was used in 2010 for a unilateral salary freeze.
Under the terms of the tentative agreement, Rutgers can only invoke the "subject to" provision after declaring a fiscal emergency and providing financial documents and explanation to the union. Rutgers and the union would then negotiate how to address the financial situation.
The Rutgers AAUP-AFT will begin mailing ballots Friday, a spokesman said.