New Jersey union without a contract considers options

For any employer, contract negotiations can be difficult and stressful. The College of New Jersey is certainly feeling the pressure with several hundred professors and staff members rallying outside its administrative building.

Many employment relationships are "at-will," meaning they can be ended at any time by the employer without cause. Some employers, like the government, often make create employment contracts to specify the details of the employment. When these contracts need to be renegotiated, it can often be contentious and threats of a strike may be common. Employers in New Jersey should be aware of the governing state and federal employment laws and how they may affect their ability to hire and retain successful employees and avoid future litigation via contractual enforcement.

The American Federation of Teachers spokesperson said the demands of the state are unfair and the organization is ready to push back. The organization represents more than 360 faculty members and 120 professorial staff members. They are operating under last year's contract because they have been unable to agree and are currently without a contract.

The largest issue, according to the union, is the state's push for localized contracts rather than a single agreement between the state and the union. Each institution's president would then negotiate the local contracts.

This would likely give the union far less bargaining power because fewer faculty members would be involved in each contract. For unions, their strength generally lies in numbers so it would be much easier to negotiate with a smaller group.

While negotiations are currently stalled, the parties hope to avoid escalating the issues by coming to an agreement by the end of the summer.

Source: The Times of Trenton, " College of New Jersey professors rally to protest contract dispute," David Karas, April 27, 2012

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