We, the Executive Council of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, stand in solidarity with the Nurses of USW Local 4-200 at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH).
Nurses at RWJUH are fighting for safe-staffing levels and fair compensation, among other critical demands. If these important goals are not reached through collective negotiations, the nurses will begin a strike on August 4, 2023. The full-time faculty, grad workers, postdocs, and EOF counselors at Rutgers University will stand shoulder to shoulder with nurses if and when they go out on strike.
We also agree with the following sentiments of our sister local representing Rutgers medical faculty, the AAUP-BHSNJ:
We were shocked and disappointed to see the overtures from the Rutgers administration to Rutgers faculty, residents, and medical students asking them to help break the strike.
Interim CMO at RWJUH Andy Anderson wrote to clinical physician faculty on July 25th in reference to RWJUH hiring scabs: “We need each and every one of our medical staff members to lead and/or support our clinical teams by helping our new nurse colleagues to familiarize themselves with our processes and procedures.” Two days later, two Rutgers RWJMS Associate Deans emailed medical students asking them to serve as “support staff” in the event of a strike. The email stated that students would be given an excused absence from their clinical duties for this. So they are asking students to substitute some of the limited time they have to learn on a rotation to act as support staff.
We find this anti-union behavior abhorrent and unacceptable. We stand in solidarity with our RWJUH nurse colleagues. Medical students should never be used to fill in gaps to provide medical services that are beyond the scope of their education and practice and could leave them in a vulnerable position. They certainly should not be exploited in order to intervene in a labor dispute outside of Rutgers. We recognize that our clinical faculty must continue to serve patients in the event of a strike. We know that various contingency plans may be set up to divert patients, reschedule cases, etc. We, of course, want to do what is in the interest of the patients, but there is no duty to perform additional work or otherwise assist in strike-breaking. If a strike does occur, our members should join a USW picket line in their free time.
Rutgers, a state institution, should not be using public resources to break a strike in a private health system. The only way we will change these health systems is to make those who run them listen to those who actually treat patients. As such, we need to stick together. An open letter written by medical students protests the administration’s attempt to use them as strike-breakers. You can add your name to the petition by filling out this form.