The union that represents 1300 Rutgers University physicians, researchers, and other health science faculty have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, with 95% of clinicians who voted casting ballots in favor of a strike.
With this move, union members at AAUP-BHSNJ joined members at two other Rutgers faculty unions representing full-time faculty, graduate students, post-docs and part-time adjuncts, who held successful strike authorization votes earlier in the month.
Even if BHSNJ does go on strike, its members will continue to perform essential research and patient care duties even as they curtail other voluntary duties that will not impact patient health and safety.
This vote represents the first time medical and health science faculty have authorized a strike in the union’s 51-year history, highlighting the refusal of Rutgers administrators to reach agreements on critical issues ranging from pay to working conditions.
“While we do not want to go on strike, our members are overwhelmingly prepared to take this next step after working without a contract for eight months,” said union president Dr. Catherine Monteleone. “We want to build a stronger Rutgers, and the administration’s proposals would only weaken the university we love by treating our faculty as second-class citizens even as they fail to pay us competitively to attract top-quality talent and refuse to address important quality of life and workplace issues.”
At the bargaining table, Rutgers administrators have continued to insist on continuing certain policies that contribute to burnout and high turnover, including practices that make it easier to fire BHSNJ members than other Rutgers employees who work side by side with them.
They are also refusing to pay Rutgers clinicians competitively, proposing salary increases of 2% or less that would amount to a drop in compensation after taking inflation into account.
At the same time, Rutgers has fought commonsense attempts to merge the contracts of BHSNJ with that of AAUP-AFT so that all represented faculty could be covered under a single, unified agreement.
The university even took the unprecedented step to legally oppose merging the contracts– a move that was rejected by the New Jersey Public Employees Relations Commission.
“This week’s vote underscores the strength of our movement and our resolve to fight for a fair deal for our members,” Dr. Monteleone said. “Rutgers administrators have the power to avert any job action by coming to the table now and presenting serious proposals that respect our members and put us on the path to a stronger Rutgers where every one of our members is valued.”