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Rutgers employees protest for higher wages

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Rutgers University students and employees waged a demonstration outside a board of governors meeting Tuesday asking for employees to be paid at least $15 per hour.

Hundreds of people took part in the demonstration with many holding signs bearing slogans asking for affordable health care. They made these demands on the New Brunswick campus outside Winants Hall and called on Rutgers President Robert Barchi to meet their demands.

During the meeting, Barchi did not reference the demonstrations.

At a Feb. 7 board of trustees meeting at the school’s Newark campus, Barchi said his administration will meet with leaders of Rutgers’ 24 labor unions to negotiate contracts before the current contracts expire June 30.

“My commitment is transparency here,” Barchi said Tuesday. “That has been my commitment since I arrived.”

Barchi addressed Rutgers’ finances.

“We have kept our tuition increases below 4 percent per year for years,” Barchi said. “ … The notion that we have this pot of unrestricted reserves that can be spent is simply not consistent with the facts.”

During the public portion of the meeting, Rutgers lecturer Karen Thompson asked the board to raise the salaries of lecturers. Thompson has taught at Rutgers since 1979.

“A lot of people have judged me as a good teacher, but I’d feel better if my salary and benefits reflected that,” Thompson said.  “… One colleague calls us the ‘farm-workers of higher education.’”

Thompson asked the board to double or triple lecturers’ salaries, give access to health care and provide job security through long-term appointments.

In student news, Barchi said Rutgers saw its total applications increase by 9.3 percent and out-of-state domestic applications increase by 18 percent from last year.

“My compliments to the city of Camden,” Barchi said. “We are growing in Newark and Camden. Here [in New Brunswick] we have to stay level.”

In other news, Barchi said Rutgers had a site visit from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education Accreditation, a governing body that evaluates the university on standards including integrity, governance, leadership and administration. Barchi said the commission’s initial report indicates Rutgers is fully in compliance with all the standards.

“I am delighted to have this report,” Barchi said.

The commission will give a final report in June.

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David Hutter

David Hutter

David Hutter grew up in Darien, Conn., and covers higher education, transportation and manufacturing for NJBIZ. He can be reached at dhutter@njbiz.com.

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