Both Sides in Trenton Today for Negotiations in Governor Murphy’s Office
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Picket lines went up for a second day on all three Rutgers University campuses as a strike by three unions representing 9,000 educators, researchers, and clinicians continued.
Hundreds of striking full-time, adjunct, and medical faculty; graduate workers; postdoctoral associates; and counselors were joined by their student supporters at eight main picket line locations on the historic first day of the strike Monday. A crowd of 700 filled the vast Voorhees Mall on the College Avenue campus for an early afternoon rally.
Governor Phil Murphy invited striking unions and the Rutgers administration to negotiate in Trenton, with the support of his staff. Rebecca Givan, president of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, the largest of the three unions, said the invitation was a hopeful sign after months of negotiations had left the two sides far apart.
“We’ve been bargaining and bargaining and bargaining, and the administration kept saying no to the core proposals our members feel most urgently about,” Givan said. “We don’t want to be on strike, but our members were out of patience with the administration’s delays and disrespect. We thank Governor Murphy for his support in bringing us to Trenton, and we hope he will be a positive influence on the administration, so we can get back to our classrooms, labs, and libraries.”
Negotiations continued all day and into the night yesterday, and the two sides will be back at the table at 10 a.m. for another all-day session.
Late last night, while bargaining was still going on, Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway sent an email to the university community renewing his threats to take unions to court over the strike and accusing “protesters” of disrupting classes. The unions responded with a joint statement this morning:
Late last night, you received an email from President Holloway that ended by admonishing us “to be respectful of our students and supportive of their academic progress.” Let’s be clear: our picket lines have been and will continue to be a peaceful, nonviolent expression of our determination to make a better Rutgers for our students and workers.
Meanwhile, President Holloway’s labor negotiators have spent almost a year resisting our proposals for a fair contract, including our calls for a freeze on the cost of Rutgers dorms and rental properties and forgiveness of students’ outstanding fines and fees that prevent them from getting transcripts and diplomas. Such punishments are not respectful to our students or us. Perhaps that is why so many undergraduates are joining us on the picket lines.
President Holloway also took the opportunity to renew his threats to seek an injunction against our strike “if there is no movement toward an agreement.” An open letter signed by more than 1,300 leading scholars and academic workers across the country points out just how disappointing such threats are from a labor and civil rights historian. Rather than threatening us, we urge President Holloway to demand movement from his negotiators, who have repeatedly said no to our core proposals.
Sadly, just when Governor Murphy had called on our unions and the Rutgers administration to come to Trenton to negotiate, President Holloway has again resorted to union-busting tactics and threats. We are in Trenton today and are bargaining in good faith there, as we have for nearly a year—with the hope that Governor Murphy will influence the Holloway administration to finally take bargaining seriously.
# # #
Tuesday Picket Line Locations: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
- College Avenue Campus: 43 College Ave., outside Scott Hall, New Brunswick
- Civic Square Building: Mason Gross/Bloustein, 33 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick
- Cook/Douglass Campus: corner of George Street and Chapel Drive/Nichol Road, New Brunswick
- Livingston Campus: Livingston Student Center, 84 Joyce Kilmer Ave., Piscataway
- Busch Campus: outside Campus Center, 604 Bartholomew Rd., Piscataway
- Plaza in front of Robeson Campus Center, 350 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
- Plaza outside Law School, between University Avenue and Washington Street
- Outside Campus Center, near Third Street, north of Cooper Street