NEW BRUNSWICK – Rutgers University could see its first-ever faculty strike if union demands aren’t met.
A strike among the faculty has been authorized, with nearly 90 percent of union members voting for it.
“We have to take the action away from the bargaining table and demonstrate to this administration and the people of New Jersey that we are very serious about these points,” says David Hughes, vice president of the Rutgers chapter of the American Association of University Professors.
One of the demands is for higher pay for graduate students who are teaching.
“I get paid around $2,000 a month and with my rent and my bills and all of that, I have maybe like $500 for my own spending,” says plant biologist major Erica Cho.
Other demands include equal pay for female employees. Union members say female teachers are under-payed between 2 and 5 percent. The members also want the school to put quality education first.
“What it means if you come as an undergraduate at Rutgers, you are getting less exposure to faculty who are researched and you’re getting less exposure to teachers and small class settings,” says Hughes.
In a statement regarding this specific union, a spokesperson for Rutgers said in part, “Since March 2018, we have met with AAUP-AFT 33 times and are scheduled to meet two more times through the end of March. The parties are making progress and the university continues to negotiate in good faith.”
“Teachers want to educate. We don’t want to leave our students missing a class or missing a day or longer of classes,” says Hughes. “But we in the long-term want to ensure that students can learn under the best possible conditions.”
Both parties will be back at the bargaining table later this week.
A date for a possible strike has not yet been set.