On November 21, our union, the Rutgers AAUP-AFT, took a bus of over 50 Rutgers graduate employees to Philadelphia to protest Trump’s tax plan—a bill which, if reconciled with the House bill passed two weeks ago, could result in a de facto 15-20% pay cut for grads at Rutgers. We were greeted by other grad unionists from UPenn, Temple, and Drexel. After hearing from graduate workers from across the NJ-Philly area, we delivered our petition of more than 1,000 signatures to Senator Pat Toomey’s office.
Make no mistake: this bill spells catastrophe for every doctoral program at Rutgers University. First-year PhD students—including international students—in any year receive a waiver for out-of-state tuition of almost $31,000 per year. Trump wants them to pay taxes on that money, funds which, of course, they never see. This new obligation of between $1,500 and $3,000 will force many grad students to drop out and keep new ones from enrolling. If enacted, the tax bill will create a very different, very impoverished campus, come Fall.
The fight continues: We will continue to put pressure on Republican Senators who may be swayed to oppose the bill, but we need your help. Together, we can stop the Republican tax plan by taking these steps:
- Join us for a phone-a-thon for 30 minutes on Wednesday, November 29, anytime between 12pm and 4pm in the union office at 11 Stone St. New Brunswick. We will be calling Republican Senators who may be persuaded to vote against Trump’s tax plan and those on the Finance Committee who would serve on the bill reconciliation committee to tell them how this bill will destroy graduate education and further hurt working people.
- IF you live nearby and can join our colleagues, please rally with the Health Professionals & Allied Employees at Congressman Tom MacArthur’s office in Marlton, NJ to send the message– Stop the Tax Scam and Protect the ACA.
We’d like to leave you with a quote from grad leader from the Rutgers Graduate School of Education, Deirdre Dougherty who started off Tuesday’s rally:
“Allowing tuition waivers to become taxed is essentially removing an important way in which doctoral education attempts to court as broad a group of people as possible with regard to race, class, ethnicity, national origin, and gender. We already have a diversity problem in higher education. This bill will further limit who can pursue higher education, and will have a devastating impact on historically underrepresented groups of potential PhDs.
When you ask a particularly vulnerable population of workers to subsidize tax cuts for the wealthy, you’re communicating something about the kind of world you want to live in and you’re saying something about how you, in this case, value or don’t value the production of knowledge.”