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States See Uptick in IHE Faculty and Staff Strikes

The “In the States” feature by Kaitlyn Brennan is a weekly update to keep members informed on state-level activities impacting the education and educator preparation community.

On Monday, employees at Rutgers University went on strike for the first time in the institution’s nearly 260-year-old history. As reported by Politico, three unions — AAUP-AFT, Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union, and AAUP-BHSNJ — which collectively represent 9,000 workers are striking after working without a new contract since last summer. In a statement, Todd Wolfson, general vice president of Rutgers AAUP-AFT said: “The strikes that are happening right here in New Jersey and in other parts of the country right now are building on a historic strike wave in higher education.”

In the last year there has been an uptick in the number of faculty and staff from institutions of higher education who have gone on strike. Generally, the move comes following a breakdown in contract negotiations over low wagers and poor benefits. Just in November, there was a historic strike at the University of California with 48,000 employees taking to the picket line, in Philadelphia hundreds of graduate students at Temple University walked off the job to fight for a living wage.

In addition to low wages and poor benefits, educational gag orders are targeting higher education more frequently. According to PEN America, in 2022, 39% of legislation introduced across the United States targeted higher education as compared to 30% in 2021. In several states, including Florida, South Dakota, Mississippi, and Tennessee these bills have been signed into law.

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