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Rutgers faculty ratify new contracts, after a one-week strike and marathon bargaining

The new contracts bring to a close nearly a year of tense negotiations, which included a weeklong strike at the 67,000-student public flagship university — the first in the unions’ history,

Educators on strike at Rutgers-Camden campus on April 10.
Educators on strike at Rutgers-Camden campus on April 10.Read moreAlejandro A. Alvarez / Staff Photographer

About 93% of Rutgers University educators, researchers, and clinicians voted to ratify tentative agreements reached by their bargaining committees and endorsed by their boards, the unions announced Monday.

That effectively brings to a close nearly a year of tense negotiations, which included a weeklong strike last month, the first in the unions’ history, and personal intervention by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

The unions represent about 9,000 full-time faculty, graduate workers, postdoctoral associates, counselors, adjunct faculty, and health science educators at the 67,000-student public flagship university.

» READ MORE: Boards of Rutgers’ faculty unions vote to put a tentative agreement before members for ratification

“This vote is the culmination of months of intense efforts by so many people who walked the picket lines and organized with their colleagues,” Rebecca Givan, president of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, said in a statement. “Because of this commitment by our members, we made major gains in these contracts, especially for the most vulnerable and lowest-paid of the people we represent. We didn’t win everything we wanted. But what we did achieve is a testament to all of us, and we’re proud of it.”

» READ MORE: Rutgers strike is suspended, sending faculty back to work with a ‘framework’ for new contracts

The new contracts include pay increases and better jobs security for adjunct faculty.

“We are grateful to all those whose hard work contributed to reaching this agreement, and we thank Governor Murphy, his staff, and state-appointed mediators who helped the university and the unions resolve differences on key issues and enable us all once again to focus on the academic enterprise that is the heart of this remarkable university,” Rutgers said in a statement.

Under the new four-year contracts, raises will be retroactive to July 1, 2022. For full-time faculty, the new contract includes a 14% increase over the life of the contract. In the first year, they will get a 3.75% increase, which the union said would be paid as a flat dollar amount of $5,035 to benefit lower-paid faculty.

Starting pay for full-time faculty under the previous contract ranged from $62,912 for an assistant instructor to $137,573 for a distinguished law professor, level II.

Median annual salaries for tenure and tenure-track arts and sciences faculty at the lowest and highest ranks vary by campus. In New Brunswick, before the new pact was reached, an assistant professor earned $105,859, compared to $76,822 in Camden. At the highest level of professor II, they earned $215,607 in New Brunswick and $173,700 in Camden.

All those numbers will rise under the new pact.

Also under the new contract, teaching assistants and graduate assistants will get a 32.6% increase by the final year, raising their salary to $40,000. Adjunct faculty will receive a 43.7% increase over the life of the contract; by year four, they will be paid $8,331 for a three-credit class at level one.

Meanwhile, postdoctoral workers will get a 27.9% boost over the contract, raising their minimum annual salary to $63,968 in year four.

There also are clauses that address equity among the three primary campuses in Camden, Newark, and New Brunswick, long a concern among faculty in Camden. It includes an improved appeals process for pay equity that will involve faculty and be more transparent.

For adjuncts teaching at Rutgers longer than 12 years, they will get four-semester appointments, improving job security. For those teaching less than 12 but more than two years, they will get two-semester appointments.

While those negotiations are over, more than 6,000 workers in nine other unions representing Rutgers staff still are bargaining for new contracts.