Old Queens’ decision to ignore the dangerous weather conditions on Thursday, January 4, 2018 represents a return to the dangerous, irresponsible attitude to staff safety that we saw during Superstorm Sandy. As schools and State offices delayed openings and then closed, and one county actually banned travel on county roads, Rutgers Administration opened for normal operation on Thursday morning.
The fact that very few classes were in session (Winter Session only), and few students and faculty were on campus means that the effect of this decision was almost entirely upon the staff. When Old Queens reacted to a similar weather event by closing the University on January 3, 2014 it seemed that a lesson had been learned. Now, it seems staff safety has again been forgotten for the sake of a few thousand dollars of overtime pay.
URA members should be aware of the following:
The URA-Rutgers Agreement protects your right to use your accrued personal or vacation time if you either arrive late or leave early on a day when classes are cancelled on your campus. (Winter Session classes were cancelled at 2 pm on 1/4/18).
The Agreement also ties attendance for County office employees to the county in which they work. For example, Atlantic County employees should not report to work if the County closes its offices.
If you used your vacation or personal time for part of the day yesterday, no personal time should be charged for any hours you would normally have worked after the 2 pm closing was declared. (e.g., if you work 8:00–4:00 you record 2 hours of O, but if your schedule takes you to 5:30, then 3.5 hours should be recorded as O.
Our first contract in 2007 gave us the right to use our vacation time in inclement weather without fear of denial. Our campaign against the University’s indifference to staff safety during Superstorm Sandy gave us years of prudent application of weather policy. As we go into bargaining our next contract, this is an item which will be back on the table.