It's the first time that faculty at the state university of New Jersey have gone on strike in the institution's 250 year history, according to WHYY.
Better pay, job stability, and benefits for employees are among worker demands.
What's the big deal? Well, the strike at Rutgers is part of a larger trend in labor politics, where more young workers are embracing unions and the potential protections they can bring to the workplace.
And while there has been a sweep in organizing efforts at companies like Amazon, Apple, The New York Times, and Condé Nast to name a few, NPR's labor correspondent Andrea Hsu reports that efforts have stalled, due to many factors, but mostly thanks to legislation that works in favor of corporations instead of workers.
The buzz surrounding these efforts is on par with generational attitudes towards organization: one recent pollfrom the Center for American Progress found that the mean union approval from Gen Z was 64.3%, compared to 60.5% for millennials and 57.2% for baby boomers.
And yet, the amount of Americans who are union members has reached a historic low. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2022, just 10% of Americans reported themselves as part of a union, half of the 20% originally reported in 1983, when the Department of Labor began tracking union data.
The administration doesn't understand that we are determined to fight together for equal pay for equal work, a living wage for all, real job security, race and gender equity, and a fair salary increase. We have no other choice than to go on strike to build a university that truly values its workers and its students.
Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway in an email statement on the strike:
To say that this is deeply disappointing would be an understatement, especially given that just two days ago, both sides agreed in good faith to the appointment of a mediator to help us reach agreements.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy's statement that invited both parties to negotiate in his office:
Rutgers University is one of the nation’s premier institutions of higher learning. I am calling the University and union bargaining committees to meet in my office tomorrow to have a productive dialogue. pic.twitter.com/KTDmpm3LKD
In a statement on its website, Rutgers suggested it may seek legal action, "To maintain university operations and protect our students, patients, and staff from disruptions to their education, clinical care, and workplace."
President Joe Biden and Democratic lawmakers have backed the sentiments in the PRO Act, which would impose heftier penalties on employers who try to squash unionization drives.
Manuela López Restrepo is a producer and writer at All Things Considered. She's been at NPR since graduating from The University of Maryland, and has worked at shows like Morning Edition and It's Been A Minute. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat Martin.
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