NEW JERSEY (PIX11) — Nearly 67,000 students at Rutgers University may not be able to go to class — potentially disrupting graduation — if faculty members go through with a proposed strike. 

It would be the first in the university’s 257-year history, affecting the Newark, New Brunswick, and Camden campuses. 

Negotiations are in progress between Rutgers and the three unions representing nearly 9,000 tenured professors, adjunct professors and medical staff. 

A strike could come in a matter of days if the two sides do not reach a deal. In the event of a strike, medical staff in patient-facing positions will continue to provide care.

The unions are asking for a pay increase to help partially offset inflation, and a living wage for graduate workers, who currently make approximately $30,000 per year. The unions also want adjunct professors to earn the same amount of money per class as their faculty counterparts. Currently, adjunct professors make roughly half. They are also asking for a rent freeze for students.

Rutgers University professor and AAUP-AFT General Vice President Todd Wolfson believes he and his fellow union members deserve better. 

“The doctors and the medical workers took care of patients throughout the pandemic,” said Wolfson, who spoke to PIX11 News amid the negotiations Sunday. “Teachers figured out how, within a week, to move face-to-face class to online in Zoom settings. We’ve supported and held up this university through the crises over the last few years, and they treat us like we’re some scum on the bottom of their shoe. And we refuse to be treated that way.” 

In a statement, a spokesperson for Rutgers University said: 

“The administration and our unions have been meeting constantly over the past few weeks and both sides worked throughout the weekend.

Our teams exchanged a set of proposals and jointly came to an agreement that a mediator could help resolve the remaining issues so that we can come to final agreements with our faculty unions and our students can be certain to complete the semester without any disruptions or distractions.”