After 35 negotiating sessions since March, Rutgers university says it “expects to continue to meet and negotiate in good faith.”
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Members of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, Rutger University’s largest faculty union have been signing up for picket duty as negotiations have bogged down.
“We continue to prepare for a strike — we’re not bluffing,” union vice president David Hughes said after another round of failed bargaining sessions last week.
Rutgers administrators have been negotiating with its staff union for more than a year and, so far, an agreement has been elusive.
The union has proposed gender and campus pay equity and higher salaries for teaching assistants, among other demands, according to NorthJersey.com.
The union is also requesting higher salary for part-time lecturers and teaching assistants, who currently make $5,200 per course and $26,000 a year, respectively.
Last week, New Jersey’s Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis and Gov. Phil Murphy released a new “student-centered vision” [in PDF] that they say will “not only make college costs more transparent and improve life on campus for students across the state, but will also help keep talented young people living and working in New Jersey,” reported NJSpotlight.com.
At Rutgers, the union expected the university’s negotiations team to reach a consensus with them on some of those demands. But an agreement was not reached, the union’s Hughes stated.
“The higher education plan announced by the Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis on Tuesday included diversifying faculty, pay equity and supporting faculty in order to support students. None of that was in management’s posture at the bargaining table,” Hughes said. “We talked very explicitly about the union’s proposal to diversify the faculty so that it starts to look more like the people of New Jersey, but the administration is flat-out refusing to contribute resources for that.”
“If we do strike, it will be because we consider the short-term disruption of classes to be worth the long-term investment in quality higher education we’re bargaining for,” Hughes said. “We’re preparing and we’re taking the matter extremely seriously, because no one is eager to strike but we do it for the sake of higher education and for the sake of our students.”