Work share: immediate action requested by 5/11/21

Work Share Program Update: Review and comment on this Workshare Roster by noon on 5/11/21

Update: Today we received the list from Rutgers UHR showing who is expected to be eligible to participate in the work share program and furloughs.  This is the list that is intended to be attached with our work sharing program application that goes to the New Jersey Department of Labor (NJ DOL). The application must be signed by both the employer and union.  As a union, we now have the opportunity to provide final input about the list’s accuracy.

Background: UHR prepared a preliminary list showing who might not be eligible to participate in the work share program because of leave status, secondary appointments, layoff/recall, etc. Then, UHR sent the preliminary list to the departments to verify or modify it. Departments were additionally asked to exclude anyone who is fully grant funded, known to be potentially ineligible because of a second job, or who serves a critical operational need.Here is what we need every union member to do right now:

  • Review: the list provided by UHR
  • Look for your name to determine if UHR considers you eligible to participate in work sharing (i.e. you will be expected to furlough).
  • Report back to us about whether or not the list is accurate. Respond to us no later than 12:00 noon on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 by clicking here

What not to do:

  • Do not request to be furloughed or not furloughed because of a preference; stick to the official reasons listed in our form
  • Do not apply for New Jersey Unemployment benefits yet. You will receive instructions from both us and Rutgers about how and when to apply.

What happens next?

We will communicate with UHR about any inaccuracies in the list. Assuming those issues are resolved, the application to the NJ DOL will be finalized and hopefully approved quickly in time for you to begin your furlough days (and for you to apply for unemployment benefits).

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.

Act now: Special Open Enrollment Ends 5/14/21

On Tuesday, April 20, we shared that the Coalition of Rutgers Unions has negotiated a new option for health insurance: NJ Direct.

You will have the chance to pay less for health benefits, effective July 1, 2021, if you opt into the new NJ Direct plan during a special open enrollment that will start on May 3 and end on May 14, 2021.

If you choose this new plan or if you are already in the Omnia tiered network plan, starting on July 1 of this year, you will no longer pay the higher rates based on a percentage of premium. Instead, you will pay a percentage of salary.

Contribution charts for the new plan based on salary.

To stay in your current plan, then there is nothing for you to do during this special open enrollment—no changes will be made, and you will continue to pay based on a percentage of the premium. If you are currently enrolled in the Omnia tiered network plan, then you don’t need to act; you will see new savings since you will convert from “percentage of premium” to “percentage of salary.”

There are some differences in medical/prescription benefits compared to the Direct 15 plan that most members are currently enrolled in.

Two-page comparison chart.

URA will hold joint information sessions with the Division of Pensions and Benefits and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield on the following dates (save the dates; we will follow up with Zoom information later):

Update: Information sessions have ended. However, the presentations are available on the Rutgers UHR Special Open Enrollment web page along with tools to help you decide on whether or not to make a change to your coverage by 5/14/21. If you still have questions, you can contact union@ura-aft.org.

Local 1766