Staff deserve to be safe from COVID-19

Protect Health Take Action
Yesterday we received an email from Dr. Barchi sharing the University’s operating status as they respond to the COVID-19 health crisis. This latest communication from management shows their disrespect for URA staff that continues to work every day to maintain operations in virtually every department in the University.

The URA has been in communications with many of the University’s top leaders for over a week where we have made demands that will help to protect the health of all of the University community.

  • We have asked for an expansion in telecommuting, allowing all employees who can to work from home. Many of us do our work on our computers and have little contact with the public. We raise the risk of contamination by coming to work in our offices while reducing access of those who are disinfecting offices to do so thoroughly.
  • We have asked that we don’t charge our own PTO time in cases where we have to quarantine, voluntarily or involuntarily. This includes if/when our children’s school closes and we need to be home with them.
  • We have asked for additional protections for those who have contact with those who travel, internationally and domestically. As we are hosting potential graduate and undergraduate students, we put ourselves at risk with each additional contact.
  • We have asked for cancellation of large group staff meetings/events that can be postponed or teleconferenced.
  • We have asked for the expanded cleaning plan for common areas, including handrails, elevator buttons, and door handles.
  • We have asked that they provide protections for those who work in departments that have contact with the public, whether they are providing services in libraries, IPO, dining, extension services and others.

We have not received answers to many of our questions. This morning a letter was sent from all the AFT unions, URA, AAUP, and HPAE, who together represent over 15,000 employees at the University, to President Barchi and many of his leadership team.

We are awaiting answers and if we don’t get them, we will demand to negotiate immediately. Due to the state of emergency enacted by Gov. Murphy on Monday, March 9, 2020, the University can modify preexisting rules temporarily.

Please see the letter that went to the leadership today.

I ask that you send emails with your concerns to the Task Force that the University has set up for these issues at .  Please cc so we are aware of what your concerns are so we can work together.

Please call or send an email to Rep. Frank Pallone, our local representative.

He is very involved with Rutgers and is a supporter of labor and needs to know that Rutgers is undervaluing staff’s health by not protecting us.

Please contact Gov. Murphy since he has notified state workers they not have to charge their time if they need to quarantine due to COVID-19 at

He can also pressure Pres. Barchi to update his plans to include staff health as a priority.

In addition, Rutgers students are advocating on our behalf. They have started a petition to President Barchi to highlight that staff need health protections as well. I ask that you take a moment and sign it.

Sign »

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve daily, we need member input and action to get the protections we deserve.  Please stay in touch as departments modify their practices moving forward.

Please stay safe and follow all the CDC recommendations to protect you and your families.

In solidarity,

Christine O’Connell

Please note our new address:
URA-AFT, 75 Raritan Ave. Suite 255
Highland Park, New Jersey 08904

We can still be reached by phone at 732–745-0300, or email at