President Barchi sent an email this morning announcing a tuition freeze for students and a 10% wage cut for four months (a 3.3% wage cut over a year) for a small handful of senior administrators and coaches, and 5% (a 1.6% wage cut over a year) for other top administrators. We are glad that the University has agreed to our consistent demand that tuition be frozen for our students and their families. Alongside the tuition freeze we call for a stronger student voice in campus governance, which includes adopting our CARES Act Commission proposal.
We are disappointed that our management’s pay cut is far short of the 25% that Harvard University’s leadership has taken for what appears to be the whole year and the cuts at other public universities like the University of Oregon and a 20% pay cut at Stanford and the University of Southern California for their top leadership. Also, senior executives and deans at USC are taking 10% pay cuts, and all the savings are to be used to provide financial aid and emergency assistance for students and staff. Our union has consistently called for temporary salary reductions for Rutgers’ top earners, but this proposal put forth by President Barchi is not nearly enough.
We further insist on the following measures before calling for shared sacrifices by Rutgers’ employees. First, the administration must be transparent in its accounting. We have not received Rutgers’ financial and budget calculations and cannot therefore verify if we do indeed have a $200 million deficit. Second, the University must commit to spending at least 50% of their unrestricted reserves to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Third, the administration must suspend or dramatically cut back the athletics program for AY 2020-21. It is far from certain that sports will be played next year, and suspending or cutting back on athletics, including with salary caps for all coaches, would save the University a considerable amount of money. This move would be consistent with other Universities like Iowa State, where coaches are taking a pay cut in the amount of $3 million.
Alongside these simple steps we call on the university to make sure that every employee reporting to work now has proper PPE, and appropriate protocols are in place for workers on campus. We also call on the administration to commit to hiring back all PTLs with a reasonable expectation of work for the Fall of 2020. The layoff of 20% of our PTLs saves Rutgers a mere $5m, while putting some of the most precarious workers on campus into a financial tailspin. It simply does not make sense from any vantage point. How is this shared sacrifice when a PTL who earns $5500 per course is laid off and therefore unable to buy food, while Barchi’s salary goes from $871,000 this year to about $850,000 (assuming the 10% cut is on his base pay of $705,000).
If the administration is willing to take these steps we outline above, while also offering complete budget transparency, the Coalition of Rutgers Unions, which represents nearly 20,000 workers across Rutgers, will join them in discussing a people-centered approach to the COVID-19 crisis. We also call on President Barchi and his administration to work with the Coalition to maximize federal and state support for Rutgers which includes our members, our students and the community.
Rutgers works because we do. The Coalition of Rutgers Unions will work together to make decisions that protect the families and students of New Jersey, all workers on campus and the future of this great University. We call on the administration to do the same. We believe that even in challenging times we can work together to fulfill the promise of public higher education. We call on the administration to do the same.