Faculty members and graduate workers at the Rutgers University, in New Jersey, United States, have called for a strike action if the university board does not renew their contracts. They demand increased payments with cost of living adjustments. The strike, if held, will be the first in the 252-year history of the university.
Full time faculties and graduate workers representing Rutgers American Association of University Professors – American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT), had picketed on April 9, during the board meeting held at the Paul Robeson Campus Center on the Rutgers-Newark campus. The union represents more than 4,800 full-time faculty and graduate workers, more than 3,000 part-time lecturers, 500-plus post-docs and 25 counselors in the university.
Deepa Kumar, the president of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT, said that the union asked the board of governors to pressure Rutgers president Robert Barchi to “do the right thing and give us a fair contract. Otherwise we will have no choice but to go on strike.”
AAUP-AFT told Peoples Dispatch that “full time faculty and graduate workers are heading for the strike. The key sticking points for graduates is job security and getting significant pay raise for the first time in 5 years. For faculty, it’s gender equity and accountability in the distribution of new $50 million dollar diversity funds to ensure hiring and retention of full time faculty from historically underrepresented groups”.
On April 8, US Senator Bernie Sanders extended his solidarity with the Rutgers professors. “I stand with AAUP-AFT Rutgers professors who are prepared to strike in order to defend affordable, quality higher education. When we organize and stand together, we win,” he tweeted.
NJ Spotlight reported that a joint study by the National Center for Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions and the Hunter College of the City University of New York found that there has been a rise in strikes at colleges and universities in the country in the recent years. There were a total of 11 strikes in higher education in 2018, up from the five in 2017 and seven in 2016.