$15 Wage a Sticking Point as Rutgers Profs Close to Striking
NEW BRUNSWICK — After printing up picket signs and preparing to walk off the job, Rutgers University professors will not go on strike on Tuesday.
But the AAUP-AFT union, which represents 4,800 full-time faculty and graduate workers, has not reached a labor agreement with the university. About 88% of its membership authorized a strike if a deal could not be reached on three sticking points: hiring more full-time faculty to improve the faculty-to-student ratio, pay equity and a $15 minimum wage for student workers.
"We bargained late into last night ending the session around 2 a.m. We are making enough progress that we have returned to bargaining today. At the same time, we remain strike ready," union president Deepa Kumar told New Jersey 101.5 in an email.
Contract talks have continued for over a year with the 20 various unions that represent Rutgers professors. Rutgers administrators said they had already reached agreements with several unions that provided employees 3 percent raises in each of the next three years and a 2.5 percent increase in the final year.
Union Vice President David Hughes told the Rutgers Board of Governors last week that if talks that had been scheduled through Monday failed, it was a "final warning" before a potential strike, according to an NJ.com report.
The union said on its strike Twitter account Monday night that they were "prepared to stay at the table for as long as necessary, round the clock, to avert a strike if possible." Tuesday came word there would no strike yet and "big gains" had been made and talks would continue.
In a statement on Monday, Rutgers said both sides had engaged in "good faith marathon negotiations sessions into the late hours of the night, working diligently to reach a fair, equitable, and fiscally responsible agreement. We have great confidence in the work and dedication of the negotiating teams and look forward to reaching a settlement soon. The latest sessions have been productive, which is a credit to both sides."
The university would not disclose what its contingency is should a strike be called.