Rally held in support of AAUP-BHSNJ members amid ongoing contract negotiations
Yesterday afternoon, members and supporters of the Rutgers American Association of University Professors at the Biomedical and Health Sciences of New Jersey (AAUP–BHSNJ) rallied in downtown New Brunswick to support University health care workers and researchers, according to a press release.
Last week, the AAUP–BHSNJ, the Rutgers American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT) and the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union (PTLFC) all went on strike due to stalled labor contract negotiations with the University.
Eventually, the faculty unions and the Rutgers administration reached a tentative agreement for the labor contract, and the strike was suspended.
Still, the tentative agreement did not address many of the AAUP–BHSNJ's contract proposals, including paid family leave and increased job protections. As such, yesterday's rally was held to demonstrate support for the AAUP–BHSNJ and its contract campaign.
Joining the rally were members of the AAUP–BHSNJ, the AAUP-AFT, the PTLFC and the Rutgers One Coalition. More than 50 demonstrators marched from the RBHS administrative offices on French Street to the Liberty Plaza building on George Street, where negotiators from AAUP-BHSNJ and the University were engaged in bargaining sessions.
During the rally, demonstrators chanted pro-labor slogans, conducted speeches and held up printed signs. Additionally, union-affiliated safety marshals and Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) vehicles coordinated the movement of demonstrators through downtown.
Catherine Monteleone, the president of the AAUP-BHSNJ and a professor at RBHS, said that the University has failed to resolve certain concerns for medical professionals, such as fair pay corresponding with national standards, protected academic time and professional development funds.
"These are some of the issues that did not get brought forward at the (bargaining) table and need to be brought forward before we can have a contract," she said.
She said that unlike the AAUP-AFT and PTLFC, who primarily interact with the University administration, AAUP-BHSNJ representatives had been further engaged in negotiations with the Office of the Chancellor at RBHS.
Regarding the suspension of the University's first faculty strike, Monteleone said the AAUP-BHSNJ retains support from the other two faculty unions and has not ruled out a return to striking.
"We are teaching medical students, we teach residents, we teach fellows," she said. "We want to be treated like teaching faculty. We don't want academic medicine to be stripped away."