Rutgers strike: Bernie Sanders lends support to striking faculty members

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, April 14, 2023
Rutgers strike enters 5th day
Sen. Bernie Sanders lent his support to those striking at Rutgers University.

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Friday marks the fifth day of the Rutgers University strike and union members are now getting some high-profile support.

"What you are doing is enormously important and is inspiring workers in higher education all across this country. Thank you for helping lead the way for decent wages and working conditions on our college campuses," Senator Bernie Sanders said.

Demonstrations have been held at all three campuses in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden since Monday.

The strike has led to class cancellations, with just weeks to go in the spring semester.

The two sides remain far apart on key issues including a pay increase.

There was hope that with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's team moving in, negotiation gears would shift.

"We see that as a good thing, I see that as a good thing, I'm sure the union welcomes it depending on his role ... he can throw in some money also," Rutgers professor Aldo Lauria Santiago said.

Rutgers University had said it would consider taking legal action to force faculty back to work. Unions are calling it an attempt to union bust over their asking for livable wages.

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"I have a master's degree and I have to Door Dash to make extra money to make sure I have food in my home," Rutgers admissions counselor Tevin King said.

"I actually have three jobs at the moment because I can't afford to work part-time at Rutgers," Rutgers faculty member Mary O'Brien said.

That's in contrast, the union says, to the life of Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway.

"He was scheduled to earn $1.2 million," King said. "He got the house that's awarded to the position, he got a car, he got a presidential escorting service, and that was written in 2020, we're here in 2023, you're making more than $1.2 million now."

"There's a lot of indignation, a lot of rage how the school could be so callous and not provide for their employees, cause that's what we are, we're workers, we're doing 40 to 50 hours a week and we should be compensated justly," said Andrew Gosselin, a third-year fellow.

Three unions, which represent about 9,000 Rutgers staff members, are involved in the strike: the Rutgers AAUP-AFT, which represents full-time faculty, graduate workers, postdoctoral associates and some counselors; the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union, which represents part-time lecturers; and the AAUP-BHSNJ, which includes faculty in the biomedical and health sciences at Rutgers' medical, dental, nursing and public health schools.

Union leaders said faculty members at the medical and other health sciences schools would continue performing essential research and patient care but would curtail duties that don't impact patient health and safety.

About 67,000 students attend Rutgers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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