NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — Rutgers University and union representatives have announced an agreement on a framework for new contracts with several faculty unions, allowing a halt to a five-day strike that was the first such job action in the 257-year history of New Jersey’s flagship university.
Rutgers said early Saturday that the agreement on the framework on economic issues was reached late Friday night with the aid of Gov. Phil Murphy, and closure on that framework “will allow our 67,000 students to resume their studies and pursue their academic degrees.”
“Nothing we do is as important as living up to the expectations that our students and their families have of us to be fully supportive of them and nurturing of their academic ambitions and dreams,” the school said in a statement.
The unions representing professors, part-time lecturers and graduate student workers told members that they had agreed to suspend the strike and return to work, but more issues need to be resolved before members would have a tentative agreement to vote on.
“Our historic strike got us to this point. And let us be clear, a suspension of our strike is not a cancellation. If we do not secure the gains we need on the open issues through bargaining in the coming days, we can and will resume our work stoppage,” they said, also vowing informational pickets as classes resume next week.
Three unions, which represent about 9,000 Rutgers staff members, have been involved in the strike: the Rutgers AAUP-AFT, which represents full-time faculty, graduate workers, postdoctoral associates, and some counselors; the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union, which represents part-time lecturers; and the AAUP-BHSNJ, which includes faculty in the biomedical and health sciences at Rutgers’ medical, dental, nursing and public health schools.
The unions said the framework included “significant” pay increases for adjuncts and substantial raises for graduate student workers, as well as more job security for adjunct and nontenure-track faculty, union representation for graduate fellows, and other improvements.
Rutgers said the pact, retroactive to July, will increase salaries across the board for full-time faculty and EOF counselors by at least 14 percent by July 2025. It will also provide a 43.8 percent increase in the per-credit salary rate for part-time lecturers and strengthen their job security, increase minimum salaries for postdoctoral fellows and associates, and substantially increase wages and other support for teaching assistants and graduate assistants.
Picket lines went up Monday at the New Brunswick, Piscataway, Newark, and Camden campuses as students were finishing their spring semester and preparing for finals and commencement. NJ.com reports that some said they went to classes as usual because some professors were still teaching or handing out assignments, while others said classes were called off or they decided to stay away or even walk picket lines in support of the walkout.