In a historic move, the Rutgers faculty unions at three New Jersey campuses have decided to strike indefinitely, starting Monday morning. Union officials have confirmed that the decision was made after reaching a stalemate in contract negotiations with Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway’s administration that had dragged on since July. Howard Swerdloff, secretary of the adjunct faculty union, revealed that the unions representing educators, researchers, and clinicians are slated to start their strike Monday at 9 a.m.

The faculty members belonging to three unions voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing a strike last month by secret ballot. After negotiations failed to produce substantive counter proposals addressing their core demands, which were to raise wages for graduate workers and secure longer contracts with benefits for part-time professors, 94% of faculty members decided to go ahead with the strike.

The strike to shut down classes is the first in the state university’s 256-year history, and it brings all classes to a halt on all three campuses, in Camden, Newark, and New Brunswick, and at the university’s medical school. Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway has indicated that he will seek a court order to stop the strike, and the university would have no choice but to seek legal methods to “ensure that any job action does not affect our students’ academic progress.”

Mediators from the Public Employment Relations Commission joined the negotiating groups Saturday, in what appeared to be a last-minute move from Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration. However, very little was accomplished in the mediation, and the university offered graduate workers a raise “for the first time in 10 months” as a final deal to try to avert the strike, but it was clearly about making appearances.

Two main Rutgers unions, the AAUP-AFT and the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union, asked for equity-driven changes that would give part-time lecturers long-term and more predictable contracts, with salaries calculated based on full-time non-tenured faculty. The unions also seek higher wages for the university’s graduate workers, who often teach classes in exchange for stipends, which at Rutgers are still below those at other major universities in the tri-state area.

In conclusion, the faculty strike at Rutgers is set to create an indelible mark in the state university’s history. The faculty’s demands for equitable contracts, higher wages, and longer-term benefits for part-time professors reflect the growing needs of educators in the country today.