July 17, 2019 | 78° F

Strike update: union tweets for student solidarity

Photo by Garrett Steffe |

 Student solidarity activists also were part of the faculty union's efforts to fight for equal pay for equal work for female faculty and increased salaries for part-time lecturers. They played union flyers on the steps in Scott Hall on the College Avenue campus. 

The Rutgers American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT) continues to negotiate a new faculty contract with the University. Using its Twitter account as a platform, it is voicing its positions and recruiting others to join its cause. 

“What are we fighting for? To stop Rutgers’ wasteful spending and invest in quality, public education that is affordable for all and reflects the great diversity of our state,” according to an AAUP-AFT tweet posted yesterday. 

Another showed a picture of union flyers placed by student solidarity activists on the steps in Scott Hall on the College Avenue campus. The flyers read: “Picket with your Prof” and “Sign the Strike Pledge Now!” 

The union also tweeted personal stories of some of its members. One read that a graduate student tries to live cheaply with her salary, but “every month (she goes) into the negative on (her) bank account.” A second post yesterday read that graduate student Soili Smith will be writing her graduate school papers in a tent this summer to manage her costs. 

The Daily Targum reported yesterday that University President Robert L. Barchi announced that an additional $20 million from his strategic fund will go toward diversity hiring until 2024. This was considered a “huge union victory,” said Deepa Kumar, president of AAUP-AFT and an associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies. The union had originally asked for an additional $15 million for a Paul Robeson Diversity Hiring Initiative for 2019-2020 and 100 Paul Robeson fellowships for graduate students from underrepresented groups. 

The Targum also reported yesterday that the AAUP-AFT was recruiting to sign a strike pledge and volunteer to picket, put up fliers around campus, pass out leaflets, make an announcement in class or table at dining halls. 

“These actions may potentially culminate in a strike later this month,” according to a union press release.

Kumar said to the Targum on Monday that the union is fighting to increase the ratio between full-time faculty and students, equal pay for equal work for female faculty and to raise the salary of teaching assistants, who earn $26,000 a year and have not seen a raise since 2013. 

Dory Devlin, senior director of University News and Media Relations, said earlier this month that agreements have been made among five of Rutgers’ labor unions, which have generally given 3-percent raises to members, and that the University continues to negotiate in good faith and on a regular basis.

Brendan Brightman

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