Barry Kushnir, center, president of Local 194 International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers, AFL-CIO, with Rutgers faculty, staff, students, and supporters on strike in New Brunswick on April 10, 2023. (Daniella Heminghaus for New Jersey Monitor)
Gov. Phil Murphy suggested more state funding could help resolve the labor dispute that drove three faculty unions to strike Monday.
In Tuesday night’s “Ask Governor Murphy” show on WNYC, the governor answered in the affirmative when host Nancy Solomon asked if there was something he could do to help Rutgers “come to the table and be able to offer more, in terms of the state budget and funding for the university” to end the impasse.
“As a general matter, yes. I don’t want to get into the details because we’re in the middle of that as we speak, but we are there not just in person in a convening capacity,” Murphy responded. “We are there in a meaningful, substantive way. I’ll leave it at that. But the answer is yes, we are. We are playing a role here, and we intend to play a role to get this done.”
About 9,000 professors, part-time adjunct lecturers, counselors, and graduate student instructors who have been working without a contract since July 1 walked off the job this week in the first faculty strike in Rutgers’ 257-year history.
The work stoppage, which left many classes canceled or carrying on with no instructors, comes just three weeks before final exams and a month before graduation. About 67,000 students attend Rutgers, the state’s largest university.
Murphy called both sides to his Trenton office for talks this week, and while “some progress has been made,” he said Tuesday night, “there are enormous complexities.”
He repeated his vow to keep everyone at the bargaining table until agreements are reached — and talks lasted late into the night Monday and Tuesday, Murphy and union officials said.
But it was all smiles from the union officials who reported from Trenton on the day’s doings during a strike update live-streamed to members Tuesday night.
“We feel good. We feel like we’re getting to a better place. We feel hopeful, and I feel like we’re going to win. We’re going to win a contract that works,” said Becky Givan, president of Rutgers American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers.
Striking workers picketed Monday and Tuesday on Rutgers campuses in New Brunswick, Piscataway, Camden, and Newark, where students and workers from other unions showed up in solidarity. Union leaders said they planned to do so again Wednesday, expanding their picket to the Statehouse for the negotiating teams to hear.
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