Higher Ed

9,000 Rutgers Faculty and Staff Begin Historic Strike

Three unions comprised of more than 9,000 Rutgers University faculty and staff went on strike at 9:00 am this morning after 10 months of stalled contract negotiations. The faculty strike is the first in the university’s 257-year history. 

Union representatives say they are demanding salary increases, improved job security for adjunct faculty, and guaranteed funding for graduate students, among other requests.

Union members plan to form picket lines on Rutgers’s three main campuses in New Brunswick, Newark and Camden.

The striking unions are Rutgers AAUP-AFT, which represents full-time faculty, graduate workers, postdoctoral researchers and counselors; the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union, which represents part-time lecturers; and AAUP-BHSNJ, which represents faculty who teach at the university’s medical and public health facilities.

The action is expected to halt instruction and “non-critical research,” as clinicians at the university’s health facilities “will continue to perform patient care duties and critical research, while curbing voluntary work,” according to a union press release.

“It’s been a year and half since we’ve had a raise, and we’ve been trying to negotiate a new contract since last summer,” said Amy Higer, president of the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union. “We’re asking for very reasonable things: salaries commensurate with those who teach the same courses as we do; minimal job security and stability for long-serving adjuncts; and access to affordable health insurance for those who need it. Yet the administration refuses to take our core demands seriously. Our members are out of patience.”

A statement on the Rutgers website, which addresses the strike, says that the university is open and operating, with classes proceeding on a normal schedule. 

Gov. Phil Murphy called a meeting on Monday to bring the parties together in an attempt to find a resolution. At a press conference today, the governor said, “I am hopeful that we can come to a resolution that meets both sides’ needs fairly, and come to a resolution ASAP.”

“To say that this is deeply disappointing would be an understatement, especially given that just two days ago, both sides agreed in good faith to the appointment of a mediator to help us reach agreements,” said Rutgers President and university professor Jonathan Holloway. “For the past several weeks, negotiations have been constant and continuous. Significant and substantial progress has been made, as I have noted, and I believe that there are only a few outstanding issues. We will, of course, negotiate for as long as it takes to reach agreements and will not engage in personal attacks or misinformation.”

If an agreement isn’t reached soon, the university has said that it may seek an injunction in court to compel a return to normal activities.

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