Strike Authorization Vote Results Announced: Friday, March 10, 3 p.m., via press release.
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Two unions representing Rutgers University full-time and adjunct faculty, graduate workers, and others will announce the results of a 10-day vote on whether to authorize a strike if the administration fails to negotiate fair contracts. Media outlets will receive a press release at 3 p.m. detailing the outcome of the vote.
A “yes” vote would empower elected leadership bodies of Rutgers AAUP-AFT and the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union to call a strike if they think one is necessary to achieve their goals for new labor agreements to replace contracts that expired over eight months ago. If one is called, it would be the first strike of Rutgers educators in the university’s 256-year history.
The strike authorization vote was launched on February 28, after more than nine months of bargaining produced no agreement on contract proposals the unions made last spring—the result, union leaders say, of the Rutgers administration dragging its feet in negotiations, not even responding to some proposals and making inadequate counter-proposals on others.
Around a dozen unions representing some 15,000 workers at Rutgers have been without contracts since last summer. Rutgers AAUP-AFT and the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union represent full-time and adjunct professors, graduate workers, postdoctoral associates, and counselors. Members of the two unions are voting on strike authorization by secret email ballot. Another union, AAUP-BHSNJ, which represents medical faculty at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences schools and facilities, will begin its own strike authorization vote this week. Other Rutgers unions may follow suit.
Rutgers AAUP-AFT President Rebecca Givan said a “yes” vote wouldn’t make a work stoppage inevitable, but “the ball is in their court. The administration can decide to keep us in our classrooms and labs if they respond with serious offers that meet the urgent needs we’ve identified with our contract proposals. But if they continue to drag their feet, our members are fed up with being disrespected and dismissed.”
Union leaders say the administration’s latest offer on salaries last week only sharpened the anger of members, even as they were voting on strike authorization. The offer—of a 2.5 to 3 percent raise each year for four years—amounts to a salary cut after accounting for inflation. In keeping with other contract campaigns in higher education, the unions are seeking significant additional pay increases for graduate workers and adjunct faculty, who make less than a living wage. But the administration has so far ignored proposals to address these inequities.
Amy Higer, president of the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union, said, “Rutgers relies on adjunct faculty members who teach tens of thousands of students every semester. The fact that the administration won’t even discuss our key proposal for job security—which would end the practice of making us reapply for our jobs every semester and provide long-serving adjuncts with multiyear appointments—tells us so much about their priorities. We don’t want to strike. But after eight months without a contract, that might be the only way to get Rutgers to take our demands seriously.”
Negotiations are expected to continue next week, during spring break at Rutgers.
For more background, see these media statements:
- Unions Representing Rutgers Educators Launch Vote on Strike Authorization
- Rutgers Unions Ask: Millions for Coaches, Nothing for Professors and Staff?
- Rutgers Unions to Rally for Fair Contracts: “All We’ve Heard in Negotiations Is No”
To read union contract proposals and the administration’s responses (if any), see this page for Rutgers AAUP-AFT, this page for the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union, and this page for AAUP-BHSNJ.
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