3 unions representing about 9,000 Rutgers University faculty and staff to begin historic strike over contract negotiations

(CNN) Three unions representing about 9,000 Rutgers University faculty and staff will go on strike Monday morning, the unions said, marking the first academic strike in the university’s nearly 257-year history after nearly a year of contract negotiations.

Members of the unions will picket at Rutgers’ three main campuses in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden, New Jersey, to demand higher pay, improved job security for adjunct faculty and guaranteed funding for graduate students, union representatives said. A joint publication.

“Those closest to our university’s mission of learning and teaching, research and service deserve more than simply surviving and scraping by,” Rutgers master’s student Michelle O’Malley said in a virtual town hall Sunday night.

There are three trade unions Rutgers AAUP-AFT, which represents full-time faculty, graduate workers, postgraduate researchers and consultants; The Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union, which refers to part-time lecturers; And AAUP-BHSNJIt refers to faculty who teach in the university’s clinical and public health facilities.

While union leaders expect the move to halt instruction and “uncritical research,” the university insists most classes will continue. Doctors at the university’s health facilities will “continue to perform patient care duties and important research, while suspending volunteer work,” the unions’ release said.

In Guidelines are published In the event of a strike, the university advised students to continue attending classes and completing assignments as usual. It also emphasized that “it is the university’s expectation that all faculty and staff attend work regularly to fulfill their duties and responsibilities.”

The university said it could go to court to end the strike and “enforce a return to normal operations,” although union leaders strongly contested the university’s claims that the strike was illegal.

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“To say this is deeply disappointing would be an understatement,” Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway said in a letter to the community. According to Holloway, the two sides agreed to appoint a mediator two days before the strike was announced.

“For the past several weeks, negotiations have been steady and continuous,” the president said. “As I mentioned there has been significant and substantial progress, and I believe there are only a few outstanding issues. We will continue to negotiate as long as it takes to reach agreements and will not engage in personal attacks or misinformation.”

Union representatives, however, insist that the university has refused to meet their central demands.

“After sitting at the bargaining table for 10 months to win what we believe are fair and just things like fair wages, job security and access to affordable health care, we have no choice but to vote to strike,” said Amy Higer, a part-time lecturer at Rutgers and president of the Adjunct Faculty Union. said in a statement.

She continued, “We’ve heard administration say that a strike will hurt students. But do you know what really hurts students? Bad pay for teachers and high turnover from having to reapply for their jobs every semester.”

The action by the unions comes a week later A massive 3-day strike Los Angeles public school workers are demanding higher wages and better working conditions Rise of short-term labor strikes across the country. It’s unclear how long the strike at Rutgers will last.

Inside New Jersey Governor Bill Murphy A statement University and union bargaining team representatives met in his office on Monday to “have a constructive dialogue,” he said.

In addition to the three groups that announced the strike, nine other unions are demanding new contracts with the university, according to a union release.

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Where does the negotiation stand?

Unions and university representatives have been in talks since previous contracts expired last summer, according to a release from the unions. But while both sides acknowledged that some progress had been made in recent days, the union leadership said on Sunday that their essential demands had yet to be met.

There are Rutgers AAUP-AFT and AAUP-BHSNJ combined their bargaining efforts and collectively negotiates a contract for all full-time university faculty, while the adjunct faculty union independently negotiates a new contract for part-time lecturers who must be reappointed to their teaching positions after a specified number of semesters or years.

Some of the demands of the trade unions are:

AAUP-AFT and AAUP-BHSNJ

  • A university-sponsored affordable housing program and a freeze on campus housing fees
  • Salary increase for full-time faculty, graduate and post-graduate staff
  • Protections for migrants and international workers have been increased
  • Guaranteed funding for graduate workers for up to five years
  • Child care grants for graduate and post-graduate workers
  • Additional Pathways to Teaching Careers for Professors and Librarians

Associate Teachers Association

  • Health cover eligibility for members teaching 50% full-time equivalent subjects
  • Advance notification of long-term contracts and appointments
  • Represents the amount of writing-intensive classes
  • Promotions based on years of service

In response, Holloway said Provided by the UniversityArea:

  • 12% salary hike for full-time teachers by July 2025
  • Approximately 20% increase in one credit salary rate for part-time lecturers
  • Increase of more than 20% in minimum salary for post graduate and associates during contract period
  • A commitment to “multi-year university support” for teaching and graduate assistantships
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“To say it’s about pay is an understatement,” master’s student O’Malley said Sunday. “This struggle is a struggle between the purpose of our university, its promises and its reality. That is why this struggle is at the heart of the students and the community.”

The university has threatened legal action

Faced with a possible strike, Holloway said in a letter last week that he had “no choice but to take legal action to ensure that any work action does not affect the academic progress of our students.”

within it Strike guidelines issued Rutgers said it is considering seeking a court injunction to force faculty, staff and students to return to instruction and work.

“The university may go to court to maintain university operations and protect our students, patients and staff from disruptions to their education, medical care and workplace,” the guidance said.

University and union leaders have been at odds over the legality of the strike, as Rutgers has warned that it is illegal for its workers to participate in the action as public employees.

In a memo advising participants of their “right to strike,” the unions pushed back at the university’s request, saying, “The NJ Constitution and statutes are silent on whether public sector employee strikes are legal. In some cases, courts have granted injunctions against striking public employees.”

If Rutgers administrators petition the court for an injunction, the unions said, “it would mark the beginning of a legal process, not the end.”

CNN’s Rebekah Riess contributed to this report.

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