Takeaway: Rutgers has spent at least $1.6 million in the past two years on the country’s most notorious union-busting law firm, Jackson Lewis. Please contact your legislators (see details below) and ask them to support legislation that would ban Rutgers and all state agencies from employing firms like these that undermine workers and our unions.
While we are facing among the worst public health and economic crises in our history, the Rutgers administration has sought to balance its budget on the backs of the vulnerable, laying off 20–25% of our adjunct faculty, threatening nearly 5% of its workforce with further layoffs, and hiring one of the most notorious union-busting law firms in the United States, Jackson Lewis.
The Barchi administration has been driven by a corporate for-profit model that puts our people and the educational mission of our university last. In order to continue in this direction, they are trying to break our community and our union coalition apart. Rutgers has retained a notorious—and very expensive—anti-union law firm, Jackson Lewis, whose list of clients includes Pfizer, Target, ExxonMobil, IBM, and Boeing.
Over the last decade, Jackson Lewis has moved aggressively into public-sector higher education union-busting. Its list of clients include the University of New Hampshire, the University of New Mexico, Barnard College, Emerson College, Northeastern University, Middlesex County College (right here in New Jersey), Columbia College, and NYU, among others. College administrators hire Jackson Lewis for the same reasons for-profit employers do: to bargain to impasse with existing unions or to stop unions from being formed in the first place. Remember that it took nearly a year to bargain the current contract.
When the scale of the COVID-19 crisis became clear, our Coalition of Rutgers Unions came together to develop an innovative “work-sharing” proposal that relied on federal relief legislation to protect the incomes of Rutgers employees and look out for the vulnerable, while saving the university more than $100 million. The administration dragged its feet on this proposal—at a cost of $10 million a week—before rejecting it in favor of layoff threats designed to pit our unions against each other and an attempt to break our union contracts with a pay freeze. These moves are right out of the Jackson Lewis playbook; we can only assume management was acting on the advice of these union-busters.
Rutgers needs to fire Jackson Lewis immediately and stop wasting badly needed resources on a law firm whose purpose is to cause fear, mistrust, and suffering. These union-busters should not be working for a public university or anywhere in the public sector, where the mission must be to serve the people of New Jersey.
We’re asking you to contact your legislators (for those of you who live in New Jersey, click here to find your representatives based on where you live) and ask them to contact President Barchi and demand he fire Jackson Lewis immediately, rescind all layoffs, and send a team to sit with our unions to find fair and caring solutions. We further call on our elected state representatives to support legislative measures that ban firms like Jackson Lewis from receiving state government contracts, as New Mexico did recently with HB 364. Below are some ideas for what to write:
Dear Senator Y / Assemblyperson Z,
I am writing to you to ask you to support legislation barring union-busting law firms like Jackson Lewis from receiving public sector contracts in New Jersey, as modeled in New Mexico’s HB 364.
I work at Rutgers University, where Jackson Lewis has been paid at least $1.6 million just since 2018—at the very same time that the administration has threatened layoffs and program cuts while steadily increasing tuition until this coming year. I don’t want my taxes and state resources going to a law firm that has undermined my job security, weakened my union, and harmed our communities with its divisive tactics.
Please contact President Barchi (before he leaves office on June 30) and demand that he fire Jackson Lewis, rescind all announced layoffs, and order his team to sit down with our unions to work things out.
Please take action against these union-busters. Thank you for your consideration.
For this email to your legislators, we suggest a subject line of “New Jersey Supports Unions.”
Donna and Amy
Donna Murch, Executive Council member, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Amy Higer, President, Part-Time Lecturer Faculty Chapter-AAUP-AFT