Three unions representing about 9,000 Rutgers University faculty and staff will go on strike Monday morning after nearly a year of stalled contract negotiations, marking the first faculty strike in the university’s nearly 257-year history, according to the unions.
Union members are picketing at three of Rutgers’ main campuses in New Brunswick, Newark and Camden, New Jersey, to demand higher wages, better job security for part-time faculty and guaranteed funding for graduate students, among other demands, union officials said in a joint release.
“Those closest to our teaching and the university’s mission of teaching, research and service deserve more than just survival and sustenance,” Rutgers graduate student Michelle O’Malley said during a virtual town hall on Sunday night.
Three unions Rutgers AAUP-AFT, which represents tenured faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and consultants; V Rutgers Union of Additional Faculties, representing part-time faculty; And AAUP-BHSNJwhich represents faculty teaching in the medical and public institutions of the university.
While union leaders expect the action to halt teaching and “non-critical research,” the university insists that most classes continue. Clinicians at the university’s medical facilities “will continue to perform patient care duties and critical research while limiting voluntary work,” the unions said in a statement.
IN guidelines posted in the event of a strike, the university encouraged students to continue attending classes and completing assignments as normal.
“To say this is a profound disappointment would be an understatement,” Rutgers University president Jonathan Holloway wrote in a letter to the community. According to Holloway, the two sides agreed to appoint a mediator just two days before the strike was called.
“Over the past few weeks, negotiations have been constant and continuous,” the president said. “As I have noted, significant and significant progress has been made, and I believe that there are only a few outstanding issues. Of course, we will negotiate for as long as it takes to reach an agreement, and we will not engage in personal attacks or disinformation.”
However, union representatives insist that the university has refused to comply with their basic demands.
“After we sat at the negotiating table for 10 months trying to achieve what we think is fair and reasonable, such as fair pay, job security and access to affordable health care, and achieving almost nothing in these basic requirements, we had no choice. but vote to strike,” Amy Haiger, Rutgers lecturer and president of the Union of Adjunct Faculties, said in a statement.
She continued, “We heard management say that the strike would harm the students. But you know what actually hurts students? High staff turnover resulting from teachers being poorly paid and forced to reapply for jobs every semester.”
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy statement pleaded with representatives of the university and union negotiating committee to meet at his office on Monday “to have a productive dialogue.”
In addition to the three groups that have gone on strike, there are nine other unions seeking new contracts with the university, the unions said in a statement.