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Faculty strike day 4: No end in sight as strike continues for another day

The fourth day of the University's historic faculty strike included picket lines across the three Rutgers campuses and contract negotiations sessions in Trenton yesterday.

The Rutgers chapter of the American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT), the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union (PTLFC) and the American Association of University Professors at the Biomedical and Health Sciences of New Jersey (AAUP–BHSNJ) hosted these picketing demonstrations.

The demonstrations included musical performances, yoga and a march to University President Jonathan Holloway's private residence on Busch campus. The march was part of the AAUP-AFT and BHSNJ's "Where's the Money Tour."

Yesterday morning, in a University-wide email, Holloway said he wanted to honor his commitment to providing regular strike-related updates. He discussed contract negotiations, stating that Wednesday's bargaining meeting endured past midnight.

"Although I wish negotiations had already been completed by now, the University and the unions continue to make progress toward reaching an agreement," he said.

At 8 p.m. yesterday, the faculty unions' bargaining committee provided updates during their daily strike recap, reflecting on what occurred during the day and highlighting their progress in negotiations. They later took questions from the meeting's attendees over Zoom.

Several attendees questioned the committee's approval of $33,000 salaries for graduate workers during a recent straw vote. Bryan Sacks, the vice president of the PTLFC and a professor in the Department of Philosophy, said he made a poor decision in his vote.

Todd Wolfson, the general vice president for the AAUP-AFT and an associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies, also expressed remorse about his vote, saying that he misunderstood the importance of the pay adjustments over time, especially given inflation.

Attendees from the meeting also asked about whether contracts will be renewed for non-tenure track faculty members.

Carla Katz, a vice chair in AAUP-AFT's negotiating committee and an associate professor in the School of Management and Labor Relations, said the length of the contracts for non-tenure track faculty has been extended, which puts this group closer to tenure status.

Catherine Monteleone, the president of AAUP-BHSNJ and a professor at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, said many of the unions' demands for medical faculty members were rejected, including maternity leave.

Sacks said contract negotiations are generally difficult, and many of the unions' most significant demands have still not been recognized by the University administration. Though, negotiations are projected to continue until union needs have been met.

"Things aren't where we want them to be at this time. We're still hopeful we'll get there," he said. "The only reason we have a chance is because of all of the activity on campuses ... the strike has given us a chance, and I can't emphasize that enough."

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