A historic moment: Thousands of Rutgers University faculty, staff strike weeks before finals

Classes were canceled on Monday while faculty members were on the picket line along College Avenue in New Brunswick.

Matt Trapani, Chris Keating and Lanette Espy

Apr 10, 2023, 9:51 AM

Updated 470 days ago

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All three unions at Rutgers University are now on strike. This is the first time that this has happened since the university was founded. The strike comes after university officials failed to reach a new contract with faculty members.
Classes were canceled on Monday while faculty members were on the picket line along College Avenue in New Brunswick. They then got together for a solidarity rally.
Professors, adjuncts and graduate assistants took over Vorhees Mall at the New Brunswick campus to call for better wages and job security. After 10 months of negations with the Rutgers administration and President Johnathan Holloway, they voted to strike.
"I know power when I see it. This is power,” says one faculty member. "We have never gotten decent pay and we have no job security. We don't have health care."
A large part of the negotiations revolves around the treatment of graduate assistants - those who are attending class, researching and teaching at the same time. Graduate assistants like Megumi Asada make $30,000 a year and do not have health benefits.
"After fees, I earned maybe $19,000, which is really not livable here,” Asada says.
The administration has made offers, including a 12% raise for faculty and a 20% per credit salary bump for part-timers. But the unions say it wasn’t enough.
Holloway wrote in a statement, "To say that this is deeply disappointing would be an understatement, especially given that just two days ago, both sides agreed in good faith to the appointment of a mediator to help us reach agreements."
While picketing was taking place on one side of College Avenue, students were on the other side admittedly confused as to what to do about classes and tests they'd been studying for.
"My professors haven't really reached out. I’m kind of shocked that my classes are canceled because it's like the most intensive part of the semester,” says one student.
"I had one [class] this morning that people showed up to and no teacher was there,” says student Mary Nucci.
A parent who is also a Rutgers graduate says that she is disappointed by how the students are being treated.
"I have three kids who all went to Rutgers. I am very disappointed that this is how they are treating this class of students that have been impacted the most by COVID,” she says.
Gov. Phil Murphy is now getting involved in the negotiations. He has called both sides to the State House for face-to-face talks.


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