Five-Day Strike Is Suspended While Bargaining Continues on Open Issues
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Three Rutgers unions representing educators, researchers, and clinicians voted late last night to suspend their work actions and accept a framework for new contracts that union leaders say contain powerful advances, especially for their most vulnerable members.
The framework came together after five days of intensive bargaining at the statehouse in Trenton, at the invitation of Governor Phil Murphy. Union leaders said there are open contract issues that need to be resolved, especially for AAUP-BHSNJ, but the framework agreed to by the Rutgers administration makes “vital progress” on the core issues prioritized during the contract campaign.
“We believe we have secured profound victories for our unions in this framework: significant pay increases for adjuncts; substantial raises for grad workers, moving them toward a living wage; major job security improvements for adjunct and non-tenure-track faculty; union representation for graduate fellows; pay increases for postdocs; our first common good demands to center our students and communities; greater faculty control over teaching conditions, including scheduling; a common contract including academic and medical faculty; and more,” the unions said in a statement sent to members shortly after midnight.
The three unions involved are Rutgers AAUP-AFT, which represents full-time faculty, graduate workers, postdoctoral associates and counselors; the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union, which represents so-called part-time lecturers; and AAUP-BHSNJ, which represents health science faculty in Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences facilities. Together, the three unions represent around 9,000 people.
Rebecca Givan, president of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, said educators at the university will “feel the impact of what we’ve achieved for years to come. The agreements secured in this framework are a testament to all the workers, students, and community members who organized, talked to their colleagues, walked the picket lines, and marched in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden. And we thank Governor Murphy for his invitation to bargain in Trenton, which was critical in getting far more movement from the administration in a matter of days than had taken place in months. I want to thank all our members.”
The open issues will be negotiated over the coming days to finalize a tentative agreement. That will ultimately be put to a membership secret ballot for ratification. Dr. Catherine Moneteleone, president of AAUP-BHSNJ, said, “The university is still ignoring job security and leave issues for our health science faculty. As members of the #OneFaculty campaign, it is important that we keep the pressure on while we finish this contract.”
Amy Higer, president of the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union, said, “We are extremely pleased that we reached what we believe is the basis for a transformative contract for part-time faculty at Rutgers. We deeply appreciate the governor and his staff’s efforts to help us win gains that we have been fighting for a long time: multi-semester appointments for hundreds of us, and significantly higher pay for all of us.
“We still have work to do to come to a full tentative agreement, and we will resume doing so next week. Most of all, we are eager to get back to teaching our students and helping them finish up spring semester.”
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