Week of 5/2/21 — Work share updates

As you all know, the Coalition of Rutgers Unions (URA, HPAE, CWA and AAUP) entered into a Fiscal Emergency Memorandum of Agreement (FEMOA) with Rutgers. The furloughs for the staff unions are structured a little differently than faculty, and Rutgers focused on finalizing the work share program for faculty furloughs first.

Following our membership ratification of the FEMOA, including salary increases and furloughs, the ball has been in management’s court. Last Friday, VP Vivian Fernandez sent an email saying that furloughs will begin for URA and other staff unions the week of May 16.  This is a possibility, but we have yet to finalize our lists of who is eligible and who is exempt. Our signature is required for submission to the New Jersey Department of Labor (DOL) for approval.

URA, HPAE, and CWA met with Rutgers management and representatives from UHR last week. We have two additional meetings scheduled to discuss the furlough rosters. Here is some information that was discussed:
UHR has sent each Department a roster of URA employees The School/Department will review the list and identify potential exclusions, based on the FEMOA.

Departments will send the list back to UHR by May 7, 2021.

During the time each School/Department has the roster, they will determine who will furlough and who will be excluded. Your management should have a meeting with you about this. We encourage you to proactively speak with your manager.

Reasons that you could be excluded from furloughs are: previously laid off for more than 10 days; on a visa; 100% grant funded; leaves of absence including FMLA and Military; are scheduled to retire during the furlough period;; have a secondary appointment; or your position has been designated “mission critical”.

Rutgers has not defined “mission critical” and we believe that each School/Department will have latitude on this designation.

Having a second job is not an automatic exclusion from a furlough. You must inform your Department that you have a second job. If you have not already filled out your Outside Employment Form for Staff about a second job, please do so ASAP at: https://uec.rutgers.edu/programs/ethics/ethics-armor/ When you arrive on the Ethics Armor system page click on the “Login” button on upper right hand side of the screen. It is hard to see because it is located in the red Rutgers banner at the top of the page. UHR will use this reporting tool to determine your eligibility for exemption for Unemployment Insurance (UI) using this form. Your Department may exclude you from a furlough because you have a second job. If you are not excluded and are required to furlough, URA will have an opportunity to discuss your position with Rutgers to potentially exclude you. If you are not excluded, you will then file for UI when you furlough. If you do not qualify for UI, your salary will be made whole, as if you did not furlough and your furloughs will cease.

RU will send the final furlough roster to the three Staff Unions on Monday, May 10. The Unions will meet with RU on Tuesday, May 11, to discuss any potential errors. If there are none, then we will sign the plan jointly with Rutgers.  

RU will send the roster with the plan to the NJDOL (NJ Department of Labor) for approval on or about May 11, 2021.

Once the program is approved, your Department will notify you that you will be furloughing or exempted. You will also receive an official notice from UHR with unemployment instructions and how to check unemployment claim status. If you have received a notice already, we have asked management to clarify that this notice was issued prematurely.  

You should not file for UI until you are notified that you will be furloughing. Filing can begin on 5/16/21. You will have all week to file. You will only need to file for UI once.

If you will be on medical/FMLA leave , are 100% grant funded, on a visa, have been laid off for more than 10 days, will be on Military Leave, or are retiring, talk to your manager immediately about whether you will furlough.

For those who have notified URA about a second job, being grant funded, etc., and your Department has not excluded you from furloughing, URA will be able to discuss this further with Rutgers.  

If you are aware that you are a victim of Unemployment Fraud, notify Will Constantine at will.constantine@rutgers.edu and UHR will work with you to ensure that NJ Unemployment has your information, that they confirm your identity and you will receive UI. Please cc union@ura-aft.org in that communication.

The CWA, HPAE and URA will join UHR to hold information sessions about filing for UI on Tuesday May 11, Wednesday May 12, and Thursday May 13. Times and links for these sessions will be sent out.  

If you live out-of-state, you will file for UI in NJ and will receive specific instructions. They will include how to call in to the system because you can not file online.  

Rutgers says that your furlough day must be the same day during the 10 weeks.This will help avoid potential UI issues. We urge you to discuss this day with your School/Department. Monday, May 31, 2021 and Monday, July 5, 2021 are university holidays. Furlough on this day will automatically be adjusted and Tuesday, June 1, 2021 and Tuesday, July 6 will be designated as the furlough days.

If you are in an overtime eligible (NE) position and are required to furlough, you will not be permitted to work overtime during the 10-week furlough period.

If you are furloughing, you will furlough all 10 weeks.

If you are in a 100% grant funded position, you may be eligible for the original negotiated raises. RU will not conduct meetings about these positions until the furloughs are finalized.

Members vote “yes”

ratification graphicMessage to union members from Christine O’Connell, President

Congratulations to our membership for your part in the overwhelming ratification of the fiscal emergency agreement. Each of you played an important role in this ratification, with 74% of our members voting, and with 98% voting yes to ratify. This is the highest voting turnout in the history of our union. From the elections committee, your executive board, and myself, we thank you.

Today, we celebrate our important step together, as URA and as part of the Coalition of Rutgers Unions who represent 20,000 workers. We fought in solidarity, to make gains for all of us, and have now ratified a historic agreement with Rutgers that encompasses multiple unions and our needs.

What comes next?

We will transmit our ratification results to Rutgers and they will transmit the workshare plan to the Department of Labor for approval. Then, Rutgers will compile the lists of those who are eligible for furloughs. We will review their accuracy. Shortly after, we can start requesting our preference for the day of week for furlough days from your departments.

What not to do

DO NOT apply for unemployment yet. More information will come from Rutgers and your union with details on how to apply for unemployment soon. Click here to check if you were a victim of unemployment in the last year.

If you were a victim of identity theft/unemployment fraud please email us at union@ura-aft.org. We are still collecting names of those who were impacted.

Local 1766