Three unions representing 9,000 teachers and staff are on strike at Rutgers University Monday amid a stalemate in negotiations on compensation and other issues.
It's the first strike in the school's 257-year history.
Rutgers said it has been engaged in over 100 bargaining sessions with the unions and will continue to do so until "fair, reasonable and responsible" terms are agreed to.
But members of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT union, AAUP-BHSNJ union and the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union said they have had enough with over a year of the back-and-forth.
"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," the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union said in a statement.
Nusrath Yusuf, a graduate student assistant at Rutgers, joined her colleagues in protest outside the Student Center. She has been living on $30,000 a year, which she says is difficult in New Jersey.
"Thirty percent of grad students are food and housing insecure. And that was before inflation kicked in," said Yusuf, adding that many go to food pantries to meet basic needs.
In a move of solidarity, many students also joined in the fight alongside Rutgers faculty and staff.
"I support teachers getting a living wage," said Jonathan Romero, a junior student who marched with the strikers. "At this point the union just had it and decided to strike."
Rutgers said its more than 67,000 students remain a priority. While the school said on its website that "many classes will continue to meet," the campus appeared empty Monday. Rutgers encouraged students to continue with their coursework and to reach out to instructors regarding assignments.
Students are being directed to Canvas or other course management systems for class status and updates. Libraries, residence halls, dining halls, counseling and bus services remain open and available.
Meanwhile, Rutgers President and University Professor Jonathan Holloway expressed his frustrations in a letter to the Rutgers Community Sunday.
"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. We have all been hard at work trying to resolve issues around compensation, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment," Holloway said.
It is not known how long the strike will last.
New Jersey courts have held that strikes by public employees are illegal.
More guidelines for Rutgers students and staff can be found here.