NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Rutgers and the union representing nearly 5,000 of its faculty members reached a tentative agreement late Tuesday night, bringing to an end more than a year of bargaining and averting the first faculty strike in the university's 253-year history.

The Rutgers AAUP-AFT released a statement at about 9:15 p.m. stating the gains secured by its ranks - from graduate workers to the most senior scholars and researchers - "are stunning."

Rutgers Senior Director of University News and Media Relations Dory Devlin confirmed a tentative agreement had been reached.

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Devlin said there would be a joint statement released on Wednesday.

Deepa Kumar, president of the AAUP-AFT, called the tentative agreement historic.

“For the first time in the union’s nearly 50-year history, we won equal pay for equal work for female faculty, faculty of color, and for faculty in the Newark and Camden campuses. We won significant pay raises for our lowest paid members, our graduate employees who will see their pay increase from $25,969 to $30,162 over the course of the contract,” Kumar said.

“In other historic firsts, the union won $20 million for diversity hiring and a guarantee of a workplace free of harassment and stalking, enforced with binding arbitration. Academic freedom now applies to social media,” she added.

According to the statement released shortly after 9 p.m., student's solidarity on the picket lines and social media played a role in helping the faculty make gains.

“Graduate employees and non-tenure track faculty won greater job security. Non-tenure faculty will enjoy multiyear contracts for terms up to seven years. For the first time ever the union will avail of a grievance procedure for NTTs - and with binding arbitration. Furthermore, in this climate of insecurity for immigrants, the union worked hard to revise the University’s ‘no-green card’ policy, Rutgers may now sponsor NTT faculty for permanent residency” said David Hughes, the union's vice president and chair of its bargaining team.

There were also advances to begin "to reverse the deep precarity of teaching assistants and graduate assistants.” The AAUP-AFT "won protections against the conversion of TAships to poorly paid part-time lecturer positions, making $5,178 without health care," according to the statement. Before completing coursework and qualifying exams, any Ph.D. student who teaches must be employed as a teaching assistant. 

According to the statement, there will be a "solidarity actions" on all campuses Wednesday. In New Brunswick, there will be a rally at 4 p.m. at the Paul Robeson Plaza at Seminary and College Avenue. In Camden, a meeting will be held at 11:20 a.m. at the Walt Whitman statue in front of the Camden Student Center. In Newark, a rally will be held at 2:30 p.m. on the steps of the Robeson Student Center.