Rutgers University averted a major faculty strike after signing a tentative agreement to some of the longstanding demands of nearly 5,000 full-time faculty members and graduate employees.
The deal was reached on Tuesday after lengthy negotiations between the university leadership and members of The American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers at Rutgers’ group (AAUP-AFT). The new agreement ensures race and gender equity, job security and dignity. The agreement will now go for a full union vote.
The university has agreed to hire more full-time faculty and to ensure equal pay for equal work by female faculty, faculty of color and faculty on its Newark and Camden campuses. Graduate and teaching assistants will also see a hike in their salaries from $25,969 to $30,162 over the course of the new contract.
“We made history today,” Deepa Kumar, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT, said. “The union won $20 million for diversity hiring and a guarantee of a workplace free of harassment and stalking, enforced with binding arbitration. Academic freedom now applies to social media.”
Last week, in response to pressure from the union, the university pledged to increase its budget by nearly $22 million to enhance its faculty diversity under the Faculty Diversity Hiring Initiative.
David Hughes, the chair of the bargaining team, said the agreement ensures greater job security to graduate employees and non-tenure track (NTT) faculty, given that they can enjoy multi-year contracts for terms up to seven years.
“For the first time ever the union will avail of a grievance procedure for NTTs – and with binding arbitration,” Hughes said. “Furthermore, in this climate of insecurity for immigrants, the union worked hard to revise the University’s ‘no-green card’ policy, Rutgers may now sponsor NTT faculty for permanent residency.”
Last month, 88 percent of members of Rutgers AAUP-AFT authorized a strike for the first time in the university’s 253-year history if the school didn’t meet their demands. Faculty members and the union had been organizing protests and pickets to pressurize administrators to renegotiate their contract that expires in June.
The agreement doesn’t cover 3,000 part-time lecturers who still await a contract, fair salaries, and health care. On Wednesday, the union organized solidarity actions on all of its campuses and pledged to continuously push for their demands.