More than 9,000 Rutgers University faculty members on strike

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is calling for both sides to meet in his office Monday to try to resolve the impasse.

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, April 10, 2023
9,000+ Rutgers University faculty members on strike
After no agreement was reached, more than 9,000 Rutgers union members went on strike for the first time in the school's history.

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Thousands of professors, part-time lecturers and graduate student workers at New Jersey's flagship university went on strike Monday, the first such job action in the school's 257-year history.

Classes were still being held at Rutgers as picket lines were set up at the school's campuses in New Brunswick/Piscataway, Newark and Camden.

"A lot of part time faculty not getting a living wage," Rutgers Professor Dan Battey said.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy called for both sides to meet in his office at the Statehouse at noon Monday to try to resolve the impasse.

"Rutgers University is one of the nation's premier institutions of higher learning," Murphy said in statement posted on Twitter Sunday. "I am calling the University and union bargaining committees to meet in my office tomorrow to have a productive dialogue."

Some students showed up in support of the staff on strike.

"As a medical student it's important for me to stand up for the people educating my classes," Rutgers medical student Julia Sirota said.

Eyewitness News was at the New Brunswick campus shortly after 9 a.m. as a large group of striking union members walked a picket line, chanting "Get up, get down! New Brunswick is a union town!"

After no agreement was reached, more than 9,000 Rutgers union members will strike for the first time in the school's history.

The university posted the following statement on its website:

Many classes will continue to meet during the strike. We want students to continue to attend classes and to complete their academic assignments. Please review Canvas or other learning management system or consult with your instructor for information related to your specific classes.

Additional information is available here.

Union officials had decided Sunday night to go on strike, citing a stalemate in contract talks that have been ongoing since July. Faculty members had voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing a strike last month.

Three unions, which represent about 9,000 Rutgers staff members, were 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 will continue performing essential research and patient care, but will curtail duties that don't impact patient health and safety.

Eyewitness News was at Rutgers University's New Brunswick campus as union members walked a picket line shortly after 9 a.m. Monday.

Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway said Sunday that he believed the two sides are close to an agreement, adding that the university will continue to negotiate. Union officials, though, said an agreement didn't appear near.

"To say that this is deeply disappointing would be an understatement," Holloway said.

Union leaders say they're demanding salary increases, better job security for adjunct faculty and guaranteed funding for grad students, among other requests.

Holloway has said the university has offered to increase salaries for full-time faculty members, teaching assistants and graduate assistants by 12% by 2025. The university offered an additional 3% lump-sum payment to all the faculty unions that would be paid over the first two years of the new contract.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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