Response to clarify new hiring practices

Union response to the Vivian Fernandez memo dated 4/2/2020

Yesterday we received an email from the Senior Vice President of Human Resources that implemented unilateral changes supposedly due to the financial impact that the University is experiencing. These changes were not negotiated and are contrary to our contract. I am writing to tell you that our contract must be considered before she can implement her table of changes that impact our working conditions. These include:

  1. The self-initiated reclassification process is protected by Article 35.
  2. In grade increases are protected by Article 39, Salary Adjustments.
  3. Acting Appointments are protected by Article 2 in our contract.

Some of us are taking on new responsibilities in this time of crisis. Some of us were already working well beyond our original job descriptions.

URA recommendations to address this unfair situation:

  • If you were already in the process of preparing a self-initiated reclassification, continue, submit the form, and keep all responses to prove the date which will be the date for retroactive pay if/when the request is successful.
  • If your department was preparing a reclassification for you, request that an acting appointment be submitted for the same out-of-title duties. If this is refused, you can file a grievance, which will protect the date of any retroactive pay. Remember, you are NOT obligated to perform these duties, and you cannot be held accountable for your performance unless there is an acting appointment in place.
  • UHR has NOT put the Staff Compensation Program on hold. (Wonder why?) As you prepare your self-evaluation, include the out-of-title duties you are doing. State that these are out-of-title and not in your job description. If your supervisor accepts that you are doing these duties, the evaluation form becomes part of the documentation for your case for acting pay or reclassification.

Some 10 years ago, UHR tried this same move, and too many departments and URA members simply held off filing reclassifications. When we finally settled the grievance, the members who did file during the “freeze” got their retroactive pay.

During this time when we are all experiencing concerns for the health and safety of ourselves and our families, management does not get to supersede what we negotiated in our contract. There is enough anxiety and stress that we face managing our health, our work, and our lives without misleading information disseminated.

Our union, with your help, continues to fight for the best working conditions that we deserve. Our work is integral to the operations of this University and it must be valued. As the University remains open, our hard work, determination, and ability to adapt to changing conditions allows Rutgers to maintain operations seamlessly. Without our work, Rutgers would not be able to work.

In solidarity,

Christine O’Connell