Stand for Something! Rutgers University Teachers and Faculty Are Officially On Strike Amidst Contract Negotiations

Stand for Something! Rutgers University Teachers and Faculty Are Officially On Strike Amidst Contract Negotiations

About 9,000 Rutgers University faculty and staff have gone on strike after nearly a year of gridlocked contract negotiations. The strike marks the first in the university’s nearly 257-year history, according to the unions.

Picket lines continued this morning on Rutgers’s three main campuses in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden, NJ, to demand salary increases, improved job security for adjunct faculty, and guaranteed funding for graduate students, among other things.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy formally requested that the two parties meet in his office Monday for a “productive dialogue.” Representatives for the governor’s office, university, and unions met around noon Monday and were still engaged in negotiations late Monday night, according to Alan Maass, a spokesperson for the union Rutgers AAUP-AFT.

In response to a question about raising tuition to support the financial demands of the pending contract, Murphy said during a press conference that he would not be a fan of a deal “that takes it out on the back of the students.” The governor also expressed regret at the current state of things between the University and staff saying, “I’m not happy it’s gotten to this point. I said this to them — both sides.”

Union leaders expect that their action will 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,” the unions’ release said.

Classes, at this time, are still in session. “The university is open and operating, and classes are proceeding on a normal schedule,” the school’s website read late Monday, though another page noted: “Many classes will continue to meet during the strike.” The university said it may potentially pursue a court injunction to end the strike and “compel a return to normal activities,” though union leaders have strongly opposed the university’s claims that the strike is illegal, and stated it is simply a result of many months of unanswered requests.

“After sitting at the bargaining table for 10 months trying to win what we believe to be fair and reasonable things, like fair pay, job security, and access to affordable health care, and getting virtually nowhere on these core demands, we had no choice but to vote to strike,” Amy Higer, a part-time lecturer at Rutgers and president of the Adjunct Faculty Union, said in a statement.

Some of the other demands include child care subsidies for graduate and postdoctoral workers, longer-term contracts and more advance notification of appointments, increased protections for immigrant and international workers, and more paths to teaching tenure for professors and librarians.