EDUCATION

Rutgers teetering on the edge of major faculty strike

By Carly Sitrin | NJ Spotlight

A major strike is looming for Rutgers faculty, unless a last-minute contract agreement can be reached in the next few days. And professors are preparing to walk out.

Months of picketing and rallying culminated in one last show of solidarity on Tuesday, as students, faculty, union members, and national organizations protested outside the Paul Robeson Campus Center in Newark.

“I’m here to deliver a warning,” said David Hughes, Rutgers AAUP-AFT vice president and anthropology professor, speaking inside the student center at the board of governors meeting. “The faculty reluctantly are tired of bargaining for 13 months and are prepared if necessary and soon to withdraw our labor from this university.”

If the union follows through on its threat, it would be the first strike of faculty and graduate workers in Rutgers’ 253-year history. It would also be the first strike of tenure-track faculty at a Big Ten university.

Union leaders have been engaged in a fierce tug of war with the Rutgers administration since March 2018, and members have been working without a contract since July of last year. They’re negotiating for salary increases; pay equity for adjunct professors, female faculty, and faculty in Newark and Camden; lower student-teacher ratios, and increased diversity — among other issues. Hughes said they’d seen little progress in discussions with the university until their vote to authorize a strike, when 88 percent of members said they would support their leadership.

And their attempts to raise the alarm have been getting nationwide attention as more teachers in higher education and K-12 have been walking out across the country.

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