COVID Updates — Week of January 18

Using the NJ Family Leave Act instead of your PTO for care of your children

Trying to understand management’s insistence on using our earned sick leave to address COVID — related child care?

Here are some tips from Yarrow Willman-Cole, former URA member and an advocate at NJ Citizen Action, about entitlements that may help us:

Workers may also apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA for this same reason. Here are the recommended tips for how to apply for the expanded Unemployment Insurance, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA. 

1.Inform your employer in writing that you plan to apply for unemployment assistance for a PUA reason. Note: this is good practice but is not required by law. You can refer them to Updated Information for Employers & Businesses

2.To apply for PUA, you first apply for regular unemployment insurance benefits. Per federal rules you need to be found ineligible for traditional unemployment benefits, which means you need to apply and be denied, and then NJDOL will contact you and assess you for PUA. It could take several weeks to process your application.

3. Apply for Unemployment by following the COVID-19 certification guide.

You can see much of the above discussed on the NJ Department of Labor website. 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, or FFCRA, mentioned in the website has expired and is not being granted by most employers currently. PUA was also set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020 but was extended 11 weeks into 2021 currently.

COVID UPDATES — Week of January 11

COVID Testing Expansion

After much persuasion from unions, primarily URA, Rutgers has expanded the protocols of testing for COVID-19 to include people who are reporting to work in person. In order to be eligible, you must be regularly scheduled on campus at least once a week for operational needs.

You must receive an email and fill out the form (long form first time and short form subsequently) on their platform to make an appointment to be tested. You can also choose to be tested independently using a PCR test and upload your negative results to the platform.

Please notify us if you haven’t received an email for testing but are expected to report to work regularly at

Using PTO time for COVID-19 Reasons

The change in Rutgers policy to use your Paid Time Off (PTO) time for COVID-19 reasons has begun. We are still advocating for management to reconsider implementing the COVID Paid Leave program from last March.

If your supervisor is not approving your use of PTO time for any COVID related reason, quarantining, care for a COVID positive person, or remote learning for your school aged child, please reach out to us immediately so we can help.

We will advocate for you and help resolve the issue. Use of PTO time can be used in conjunction with your telecommuting agreement.

Sign the petition for libraries staff safety and equity

Click here to sign:

URA members in the Libraries at Newark and Camden call for safe working conditions, expanded telecommuting. Please sign and share our online petition. Libraries staff in New Brunswick / Piscataway have a safer work schedule. Why not Newark or Camden?
Our Demand: Immediately close the premises of Rutgers’ Newark and Camden libraries except for essential cleaning and maintenance until at least the beginning of the Spring 2021 semester. Implement staffing by teams alternating in-person and remote work through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency

With Newark once again at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet staff (but not faculty or students) at Dana Library were required to defy the municipal stay-at-home declaration by Mayor Baraka, and report daily to an almost empty campus.

Rutgers- Camden, too, has most classes virtual and low campus occupancy . Camden, too, is experiencing a surge in COVID cases, yet staff (not faculty, not students) are required to report to Robeson Library every day.

The safety of Library staff members matters as much as the library faculty. Library faculty assigned to the Newark or and Camden campuses work 100% remotely.

Library staff have never been classified as “essential” workers.
If we are “One Rutgers”, let’s treat our staff like that is true. Let’s protect them from unnecessary exposure in their daily commute and on the job.

Local 1766