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Holloway's bargaining update email incurs backlash from Rutgers unions

Yesterday, University President Jonathan Holloway provided updates on the labor negotiations with various Rutgers unions through the sending of a University-wide email.  – Photo by

Yesterday, University President Jonathan Holloway sent his third University-wide email regarding the ongoing labor disputes between the administration and various Rutgers unions.

Similar to his first two emails to the University community about the issue, Holloway said Rutgers administration is hopeful that a strike will not occur and that progress is being made at the bargaining table.

Several union representatives from the Rutgers American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT) and Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union (PTLFC) responded to Holloway’s email, stating that his update on labor negotiations was disingenuous and incorrect.

The unions' statement said that the administration's proposed wage increases still result in graduate workers being paid less than a living wage, which is essentially a pay reduction given inflation.

The proposed compensation rates for adjunct faculty, postdoctoral workers and full-time faculty also raise the same issue, according to the statement.

Holloway’s email also mentioned that the University would pursue legal action if a faculty strike were to occur. Additionally, the University Senate issued a resolution for Holloway to send a statement to the University community asserting that no faculty or students would be retaliated against for choosing to cross picket lines.

Rebecca Kolins Givan, an associate professor in the School of Management and Labor Relations and the president of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT, said that she does not want the Rutgers administration to file a court-ordered injunction against the union.

"We hope that it doesn't come to that point and we don't have to strike. But if we do have to, we hope that President Holloway wouldn't escalate the conflict with legal action," Givan said. "It would seem to go against his stated vision of setting a new direction for labor at Rutgers and of nurturing a beloved, caring community."

Yesterday on Zoom, the AAUP-AFT and the PTLFC held "Union Office Hours" to answer questions from students about the possibility of a strike and the numerous issues surrounding faculty contracts. More than 200 people joined the call to ask questions about what might occur in the coming weeks.

On social media, there have been rumors of a strike taking place in the first week of April — but Givan said these claims are false, and there is no determined date for a possible strike.

Todd Wolfson, an associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies and vice president of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT, said the decision to go on strike would be made at the discretion of the union’s Executive Council. He said that the union would reach an agreement on a strike democratically.

Wolfson said if a strike were to occur, picket lines would extend across the University, and instructors would hold teach-ins unrelated to the coursework. He said compensation, job security, rent and student loan forgiveness are all issues included in their proposed contract.

"We have every intention to fight for all of these things, and we have prioritized them as issues we must make progress on to avoid a serious work action," Wolfson said.

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