Rutgers University president threatens legal action over historic strike

CAMDEN, NJ (CBS) — Protests continued Tuesday at Rutgers University’s three campuses, including in Camden, as ongoing negotiations remain between university administrators and three unions representing full-time faculty, part-time lecturers and graduate students.

the unions are demanding higher wages and better job security for part-time lecturersamong other demands.

At Rutgers University-Camden, students told CBS Philadelphia that most of their classes had been canceled due to the strike.

“I would love to go back to class, but I don’t think that’s possible,” Denise Nieves, a junior nursing major, said.

Sitting just a few feet from the protesters, junior Elizabeth Hardy is enjoying some of the benefits of having canceled classes.

“Honestly, I’ve been a little bit more productive because of the strike,” Hardy said. “But I understand that it’s kind of a downplay for seniors who are looking forward to graduating.”

One of those seniors is her friend, Andrea Sellers, who isn’t able to attend a lab class due to the strike.

“I’m very nervous because I start grad school next semester,” Sellers said. “So if I don’t take the necessary courses I need this semester, then I won’t be able to graduate and start going to grad school.”

Despite the anxieties and disappointment with not attending classes, some students said they supported the strike.

“I just hope everything works out in their favour,” Sellers said. “Yes, the students are at risk right now, but I hope everything just gets resolved and everything works in their favour.”

In an updated statement, Rutgers University president Jonathan Holloway said if progress isn’t made on negotiations between administrators and the unions, he may take legal action to force protesters back to work, so students can continue their academic progress.

He also said students should continue attending classes and completing assignments.

He added there have been reports of protesters disrupting classes, including in one instance where he said they interrupted a class taking a critical exam.

He asked union members to protest respectfully.

In response to President Holloway’s updated statement, the Rutgers AAUP-AFT union wrote, “Let’s be clear: our picket lines have been and will continue to be a peaceful, nonviolent expression of our determination to make a better Rutgers for our students and workers.”

The union also criticized Holloway for proposing taking legal action against the union, writing, “Rather than threatening us, we urge President Holloway to demand movement from his negotiators, who have repeatedly said no to our core proposals.”

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