Baraka makes his feelings on strike clear: ‘Do better, Rutgers’

Newark mayor calls out university for increasing use of graduate assistants — and what he feels is their substandard pay

While most politicians have issued straight-down-the-middle, hardly-picking-a-side comments on the strike of the faculty of Rutgers University against the school, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka made it clear which side he is on.

“I stand with the faculty unions,” he said in a statement released by the city Wednesday afternoon.

Baraka called out Rutgers, which counts Newark as one of its three campuses.

What part-time teachers make

According to figures provided by Rutgers University, adjunct professors — or part-time lecturers, as they are called — earn between $2,089 and $2,594 per credit per course.

Put another way, they are paid between $6,269-$7,782 for a standard three-credit course.

Graduate assistant and teaching assistants make between $30,162 (academic year) and $33,999 (calendar year).

“The Rutgers faculty has been at the bargaining table with the university administration for more than a year and they have worked without a contract since June 2022,” he said in a statement. “That is no way to treat any union workers, let alone the faculty of our state university.”

Baraka said the pay for graduate assistants is too low — and that the school relies too much on them in an effort to reduce costs.

“The key issues in this strike are the pay rate for part-time and graduate faculty,” he said. “Rutgers hires more and more part-time faculty and fewer and fewer full-time professors.

“Part-time lecturers (adjuncts) are teaching more than one-third of all classes and they are paid at a much lower rate of pay than the full-time faculty.”

For Baraka, it is another example of pay inequity.

“If we stand for anything in New Jersey, it should be equal pay,” he said. “The teaching and graduate assistants need adequate pay raises so that they can do their work, finish their scholarship for their Ph.D.s, be able to pay rent and their student loans. They earn less than $32,000 a year. This is a university that has paid more than $1 million to an assistant coach.

“Do better, Rutgers.”