Last month, our union filed an important lawsuit on behalf of five female faculty members to win pay equity, as required by the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act signed into law by Gov. Murphy in 2018. These five cases came to light through the groundbreaking pay equity program we won in our current contract. We hope the widespread attention that this lawsuit has generated and the example it sets will help many others to get justice.
We’re writing today to update you about the suit and the response. The plaintiffs say they have received numerous emails of support from colleagues and students. Some colleagues have even asked if they could join the lawsuit. Retired faculty and alums have reached out to congratulate the five for taking this bold step. Many noted that they are following in the footsteps of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who along with her female colleagues at Rutgers-Newark won a settlement for the pay equity lawsuit they filed half a century ago.
The suit has gained national and international attention. Right after it was filed, the New York Times published a prominent in-depth article about the case. This story was reprinted in various venues, including the Times of India. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation also did a segment.
We organized a press conference (watch it on video here) at which Becky and our colleague Nikol Alexander-Floyd spoke alongside three of the plaintiffs—Deepa Kumar, Nancy Wolff, and Judith Storch. Please read their moving statements that clearly guided a lot of the media coverage that followed. As Distinguished Professor Wolff, who has lost $500,000 in earnings in the past 15 years because she was not paid the same as her male colleagues, put it: “This is not how we treat women in a just and fair community or in a beloved community.”
There were numerous other articles. Some of the best appeared in our two campus newspapers: the Daily Targum in New Brunswick and the Rutgers Observer in Newark. We expect op-ed articles and more press conferences in the days ahead.
The pay equity program has been in effect since July of last year, and more than 130 faculty members have applied to get a salary adjustment. The program addresses salary inequality based on race, gender, and other categories, as well as inequities across our three campuses—half of the applications we know about so far involve Camden faculty. The program is available to all faculty, TT and NTT, but those in legally protected classes have a binding arbitration process as well.
We have filed a grievance around management’s failure to enact this program. After more than a year, they have not finished processing a single case. Since the pandemic struck last spring (nine months into the program), they claimed administrators have been too busy to make significant progress. Lately, we’ve even heard that pay equity is “too complicated”—an embarrassing statement when we have renowned faculty experts on the issue who have volunteered to help them figure it out.
It’s long past time that Rutgers does the right thing and shows its commitment to the universal principle of equal pay for equal work.
Todd and Becky
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
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