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U. administrators' union considers joining campus-wide faculty strike

The Union of Rutgers Administrators-American Federation of Teachers (URA-AFT) is moving toward authorizing a strike vote and officially joining the ongoing strike movement at Rutgers.
 – Photo by Evan Leong

The Union of Rutgers Administrators-American Federation of Teachers (URA-AFT) and its approximately 2,500 members have begun to consider authorizing a strike vote and, eventually, joining the current strike movement.

The URA-AFT's labor contract negotiations with Rutgers administration are wholly separate from those between the University and the three currently striking faculty unions, said Christine O'Connell, president of the Rutgers URA-AFT.

She said the University has been either delaying or outright rejecting all of the URA-AFT's contract proposals for months, which has caused the union to consider enacting a work stoppage.

O'Connell said that this week, members of the URA-AFT voted to begin a strike pledge that gauges members' interest in a potential strike. This precedes a strike authorization vote where the URA-AFT's executive board can decide whether to call a strike.

She said that she could not provide a timeline for these events because they are part of an internal process for union members. Still, the union is attempting to expedite the process to allow members to join the ongoing strike held by the University's faculty unions.

Currently, members of the URA-AFT are being told to participate in the other unions' strike when they are off-the-clock and not during their work shifts.

"If we were to strike … it would be to visibly show our absence, and we are integral to the operations of this university and not easily replaceable," O'Connell said.

She said that members of the URA-AFT exist in every aspect of the University's operations, including departments that directly affect students' on-campus life.

"We are the people that admitted you. We are the people that will assist in graduating. We are the people that feed you. We are the people that house you. We are the people that give you special permission numbers. We are the people that do your add drops. We provide your schedules. We advise. We do everything but teach," O'Connell said.

She said some of the URA-AFT's key contract demands include better pay, expansion of telework options, increased job growth opportunities and better job security.

"We love our students. Everything we do is for our students and our faculty," O'Connell said. "We're not volunteers. We do this as a job, as a career and we get a lot of pleasure and satisfaction out of it. Our fight is with management, our fight is with the boss and we think Rutgers can do better."

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