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Season 5, Episode 23

Workers at NJIT win new contracts after 18-month fight with university



Guest Name:

Brian O'Donnell

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Brian O’Donnell, President of the United Council for Academics at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to talk about the 18-month fight for new contracts with the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). O’Donnell talked about the delay tactics utilized by the university and how they received assistance from the Rutgers University union faculty and staff to earn their new contracts.

O’Donnell comes from a family of union members. His mother is now a retired teacher, and his father works as a pipefitter with the United Association (UA). Growing up, O’Donnell said he owed a lot to his parents' union membership for keeping his family out of poverty and allowing him to seek out higher education. O’Donnell outlined how he felt being around unions growing up and their lasting impact on his future. 

On July 1, 2022, the two contracts covering adjunct faculty, postdoctoral research employees and graduate workers at NJIT expired. For nearly eight months, the university delayed negotiation proceedings. O’Donnell talked about the tactics utilized by the university to delay negotiations. At the beginning of the negotiations, the Local was relatively quiet and unorganized group, but through the process, the Local became more organized and vocal, improving the union’s strength O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell talked about the contract wins, ratified by members with a 99 percent approval vote. The threat of assistance from the Rutgers University workers who had just gone through their own strike and new contract negotiations helped provide a legitimate threat to the university. This, coupled with the increased strength and unity displayed by the two bargaining units, helped bring the university back to the table. O’Donnell said work still needs to be done to fix local legislation with Ph.D. students who work full-time hours categorized as part-time workers.

Listen to the show above to hear more about UCA NJIT’s contract win.

America’s Work Force is the only daily labor podcast in the US and has been on the air since 1993, supplying listeners with useful, relevant input into their daily lives through fact-finding features, in-depth interviews, informative news segments and practical consumer reports. America’s Work Force is committed to providing an accessible venue in which America's workers and their families can hear discussion on important, relevant topics such as employment, healthcare, legislative action, labor-management relations, corporate practices, finances, local and national politics, consumer reports and labor issues.

America’s Work Force Union Podcast is brought to you in part by our sponsors: AFL-CIO, American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of Musicians Local 4, American Alliance for Manufacturing, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, Communication Workers of America, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 50, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Crafts, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6, Ironworkers Great Lakes District Council, The Labor Citizen newspaper, Laborers International Union of The National Labor Office of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, North America, North Coast Area Labor Federation, Ohio Federation of Teachers, Survey and Ballot Systems, United Labor Agency, United Steelworkers.


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