NJIT Faculty and Staff
Robert A. Altenkirch
Friday, October 10, 2008
Status of PSA negotiations

For the past sixteen months the NJIT administration has in good faith worked diligently to complete the contract negotiations process with each of our collective bargaining units. Although negotiations with most of the unions have been completed, negotiations with the PSA are ongoing, and I want to update you on the status of those negotiations. We believe it is important to share with members of the university community the objectives and key elements of our economic proposal to the PSA negotiating team.

Our goal has always been to present a proposal that fairly compensates and recognizes accomplishments of our faculty, professional staff, and university lecturers. The total salary proposal as outlined below is in alignment with that offered by the State of New Jersey, and does not represent in any respect a decrease in the total dollar amount to be distributed. In point of fact, the total dollar value of the professional staff proposal is the same as that offered in statewide negotiations: 3% in FY08, 3% in FY09, 3.5% in FY10, and 3.5% in FY11, all across-the-board distributions.   Additionally, the annual merit pool percentages for professional staff would remain unchanged at 1.75% for all four years.

Through the past efforts of both the PSA and the administration, university lecturers would be eligible for participation in a merit program. The university’s proposal for university lecturers includes a 3% across-the-board distribution for each of the four years, and 1.75% merit for years one and two, and 2.25% merit for years three and four.  Although across-the-board percentages in years three and four are less than those proposed for professional staff, the percentages were not eliminated from the salary package but rather moved to the merit pool. Our emphasis here is that those who provide our students with the best education should receive a greater percentage of the salary dollars available.

Similarly, our faculty proposal also emphasizes merit-based salary increases such that the across-the-board distribution proposed declines from 4.5% in year one, to 3.5% in year two, to 2.5% in year three, and to 0% in year four, with the merit pool being 1.75% in years one through three and 4.25% in year four. In the most recent AAUP Annual Salary Survey, NJIT faculty ranked second among public universities nationwide in faculty pay at the Professor rank, first at the Associate rank, and fifth at the Assistant rank. We are proud of our faculty and their accomplishments, and we are pleased with the level of compensation we are able to provide. Even in these difficult and uncertain fiscal times that the State and country face and escalating tuition for our students, our proposal does not reduce the rate of faculty salary increases. It does however ensure accountability to the public that their dollars are used wisely to reward those who are performing at the highest levels in teaching, research and service, rather than escalating salaries already among the highest in the county with continued across-the-board increases. Additionally, for faculty, many of the caps on dollars to base and hold steps that were applicable in the past are phased out under our proposal, thus allowing those meritorious members of the faculty to be awarded a significant percentage increase to base salary.

As a greater percentage of salary increase dollars are proposed in merit for faculty and university lecturers, it is critical that the merit distribution system is fair and transparent. For these reasons we have proposed changes to the current merit system. These changes recognize the important role played by faculty in the award of merit pay, but they also encourage the development of clear and transparent standards and guidelines, and they define the role for Deans and Chairs in the merit process.

Beyond the changes noted above, we have also proposed modest increases in the parking fees. The impact would be an increase to the per-semester parking scale of $25.00 phased in over the four year contract period. The additional dollars generated would cover some of our parking-related cost increases, e.g., lighting, Public Safety personnel, etc.

In addition to salary packages, we have, over the sixteen  months and thirteen meetings, discussed a wide range of issues during the negotiations with the PSA team. We are hopeful that we will be able to achieve consensus on all remaining issues and bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion.