First faculty strike in Rutgers history is suspended
The first faculty strike in Rutgers history has been suspended after the University's administration and three striking Rutgers unions came to an agreement regarding labor contracts last night.
Members of 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) have been on strike since Monday, leading to class cancelations and picketing on all three University campuses.
In a joint statement, the three striking Rutgers unions said that a finalized tentative agreement is yet to be reached, but in the meantime, striking employees would return to their posts.
Eventually, any tentative agreement regarding the unions' labor contracts would be anonymously voted on by union members, according to the statement.
While the unions acknowledged the gains they made during contract negotiations, they maintained that some matters, such as those related to members of the AAUP-BHSNJ, were unresolved.
"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," the statement read.
In a University-wide email, University President Jonathan Holloway said that the striking unions and Rutgers administration have agreed upon a framework that provides wage increases and additional benefits to full-time faculty, adjunct instructors and graduate workers.
Holloway said this framework will ensure that all full-time faculty and Education Opportunity Fund counselors receive a minimum 14 percent salary increase by July 1, 2025.
For adjunct faculty, who are paid per credit that they teach, the framework will provide a 43.8 percent increase in their per-credit pay rate over the next four years.
Over the same four years, Holloway said postdoctoral fellows and associates will obtain a base salary increase of 27.9 percent. The new contract framework will also supply teaching and graduate assistants with University support over several years.
"These graduate students, in addition to receiving health care coverage and free tuition and fees, will see their 10-month salaries increase to $40,000 over the course of the contract," Holloway said.
Since the faculty unions' previous labor contract expired on June 30, 2022, Holloway said the new contract agreement will distribute back pay for all work completed by union employees since July 1, 2022.
As for students' next steps, Holloway said the University urges instructors to accommodate students' completion of new and past course assignments.
Exam schedules and course registration for the Fall 2023 semester will remain the same, he said. Graduation and school convocations will also continue as scheduled.
Ending the email, Holloway said he is grateful for Gov. Phil Murphy's (D-N.J.) mediation and support through the contract negotiation process.
"Again, my thanks to (Murphy) as well as his staff and the state-appointed mediators who helped the University and the unions resolve differences on key issues and enable us all once again to focus on the academic enterprise that is the heart of this remarkable University," he said.
Murphy issued a press release minutes before the University-wide email was sent from Holloway, touting the breakthrough labor agreement and announcing that Rutgers classes will be back in session on Monday. He said the deal resolves key issues surrounding salary, benefits and job security.
"This fair and amicable conclusion respects the interests of many different stakeholders, upholds New Jersey's values, and puts an end to a standoff that was disruptive to our educators and students alike," Murphy said in the release.
In the press release, Rebecca Kolins Givan, president of the AAUP-AFT, said that the agreement would set a benchmark for higher education in New Jersey and across the country.
"The framework we have agreed to today sets in place unprecedented gains for contingent workers, graduate students and our communities," she said.
Amy Higer, president of the PTLFC, said she was satisfied with the agreement and reiterated that there is still work to be done to reach a complete resolution.
"We are eager to get back to teaching our students and helping them finish up the spring semester," she said.