Rutgers strike: University considering legal action to force faculty back to work

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Day 3 of Rutgers faculty strike underway
The strike at Rutgers for their faculty has entered a third day.

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (WABC) -- The standoff at Rutgers University reached day three on Tuesday after thousands of professors, part-time lecturers and graduate student workers at New Jersey's flagship university went on strike on Monday.

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.

The talks in Trenton went on until 10 p.m. Monday night.

Broader pickets and more picketers on Tuesday were a sure sign there was not enough movement to make a difference.

Rutgers University is now saying 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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