September 18, 2019 | 57° F

Faculty union begins picket duty sign-ups

Photo by Garrett Steffe |

A hashtag that is widely used in the only academic strike movement is #FairContractNow, which the Rutgers faculty union Twitter page has shown solidarity with. The union is currently fighting for a higher salary for teaching assistants and equal pay for equal work for female faculty.

Members of the Rutgers American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT) are now signing up for picket duty in preparation for a possible strike, the faculty union tweeted yesterday. 

The union also tweeted the tele-town hall for members has been moved from Thursday of this week to Monday, April 8.

Jennifer Caroccio, a teaching assistant at Rutgers—Newark, tweeted yesterday, “I love my class, I love teaching Latinx studies. I don't want to strike but I can't stand by while Admin turns Rutgers into a corporation.1 #FairContractNow #RUReady2Strike.”

The hashtag #FairContractNow is used widely in the online academic strike movement, namely at University of Illinois at Chicago and the Community College of Philadelphia, both of which the Rutgers AAUP-AFT account has shown solidarity with on Twitter.

Along with hashtags to support its movement, the union at Rutgers—Camden started a food drive to show solidarity this week.

The Rutgers AAUP-AFT account tweeted on March 31, “Pres Barchi makes more money in 2 weeks than TAs/GAs make all year, yet he refuses to negotiate on grad salary and job security. Camden faculty: show your solidarity with grads. Donate nonperishable food items from 4/1-4/4 in lounges across campus #Solidarity #RUReady2Strike.”

The Daily Targum reported last week that AAUP-AFT tweeted strike planning was underway, and one of the tweets said: “Just wrapped up a strike planning meeting in Anthropology. Like many departments, we rely on non-tenured & grad labor. Barchi’s refusal to negotiate on grad & adjunct contracts is disgraceful. Are we ready to strike? Heck yes.” 

Deepa Kumar, president of the AAUP-AFT and associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies, said 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. 

The Targum reported on Monday that the union is also asking 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. University President Robert L. Barchi has previously promised $21.7 million for diversity hiring through 2021. 

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. 

Priyanka Bansal

Brendan Brightman

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