NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (PIX11) — Thousands of staff members at Rutgers University went on strike Monday morning, demanding a pay increase and affordable health care.
The picket lines formed early along College Avenue at the New Brunswick campus as passing drivers honked horns. The strike is expected to go on at the three campuses and could impact 67,000 students. The school said a normal class schedule was expected on Monday.
Approximately 9,000 researchers, educators, and clinicians have spent 10 months bargaining with the school with little progress. The union workers are asking for a pay increase to help with inflation, access to affordable health care, and a livable wage for graduate workers, who currently make $30,000 a year.
“Our economic situation is really becoming untenable for many of us and so we’re here to show the university that the university does not work without us. We are the ones teaching the classes, we are the ones doing the research and if Rutgers is going to continue to work, they need to support us,” graduate worker Dylan Simpson said.
A spokesperson for Rutgers said the sides have been meeting throughout the weekend and hopefully a resolution can be found before the semester ends.
“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,” the spokesperson said.
Gov. Phil Murphy has asked both sides to meet in his office so they could have a “productive dialogue.”