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Poll: Where Do You Stand on Rutgers’ Strike — Pro Profs or Administration?

A walkout seems imminent, but the issues are complex, and include pay-equity for female faculty and possible damage to the university’s reputation

The faculty union at Rutgers University is poised to strike, saying members have worked long enough without a contract and the administration is not coming close to meeting its terms. If teachers walk off the job, it would be the first faculty strike in the university’s 235-year history.

Rutgers AAUP-AFT is seeking salary increases, including pay equity for adjunct faculty, female professors, and faculty at the Newark and Camden campuses. Among other concerns, the union also wants the university to hire more full-time faculty to lower student-teacher ratios and improve its sabbatical policy and disability leave.

Union officials say they saw little progress in negotiations with Rutgers until 88 percent of members voted to authorize a strike, if necessary. Increasing faculty diversity is one of the union’s demands and, recently, the university announced it would spend $20 million on efforts to hire, mentor, and retain diverse faculty.

The union contends Rutgers has enough money for pay increases, citing an average $50 million surplus and $193 million in subsidies to athletic programs since 2012 — among other sources of funds.

A walkout by the 4,800 full-time faculty and graduate assistants, 3,000 part-time lecturers, and others represented by the AAUP-AFT would halt classes for some 70,000 undergraduate and graduate students on the state university’s campuses just as the semester is winding down. The union says it would be the first strike by tenured faculty at a Big 10 university.

Rutgers has more than 500,000 alumni living across the globe. Many thousands live in New Jersey and remain devoted to their alma mater.

What do you think about a possible strike?

  • A strike must be averted at all costs. It is imperative for both the union and administration to compromise on all issues. Surely adults can agree to improve conditions for faculty while not costing the university too much more. A strike would hurt Rutgers’ reputation and leave scars that would take a long time to heal among administrators, faculty, and students.

  • The union may have to strike to achieve its goals. It is unconscionable that Rutgers relies so heavily on adjunct professors and pays them so little: 30 percent of faculty make the equivalent of $21,000 a year, which is a poverty wage. Males should not make more than females and New Brunswick faculty should not receive more than those working in Newark and Camden.

  • The administration must not give in to union demands. The AAUP-AFT must not be allowed to dictate salary and other policies. Full-time faculty are already paid handsomely for teaching just a few courses. Increasing pay would only cause even higher tuition increases, and Rutgers’ tuition is already unaffordable for many of New Jersey’s young adults.

  • Faculty should never be allowed to strike. It disrupts the school year and hurts students.

  • This possible strike is focused on the wrong issue. Skyrocketing college tuition and fee increases are the real problem at Rutgers and other colleges. Faculty should be working to cap or even lower the costs students have to pay, and administrators should do whatever they need to, including cutting costs, to make college more affordable at the state university.

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