Rutgers Staff—Orphans of the Storm?

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.

Adverse Weather Conditions and University Closings Information

As we head into the throes of winter make sure you are knowledgeable about the rights afforded to you under Article 51 “University Closings” of our contact, which can be found here. County employees should follow the operating status for county facilities, not Rutgers, in regards to university closings. The Rutgers policy on “ATTENDANCE DURING ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS”, also known as policy 60.1.29 can be found at During inclement weather employees should be aware of the University’s Operating Status by checking their campus’ homepage. Also become familiar with Rutgers’ Emergency Action Plan for “Adverse Weather”, which can be found at A great way to stay on top of the campus emergency status is to be registered with the Rutgers Emergency Notification System (ENS) which can be done at this link. To our brothers and sisters working through the storm; thank you and work safely!

Update from URA Ad Hoc RX Committee on OPTUMRx

If you have received a “disruption letter” (Information regarding pharmacy information letter) form OPTUMRx in regards to your current prescriptions not being covered under the new plan starting Dec 23, 2017, please carefully read the information below:

We suggest starting a conversation with your prescribing medical provider now on starting an appeal so your current Rx prescriptions can remain the same. Starting Dec 23rd, physicians should call the prior authorization department at 1–800-711‑4555 (Fax #800–527-0531) to start an appeal for you. Only doctors can request an appeal for bona fide medical reasons to remain with the current prescription you are taking.

If you have received a “disruption letter” as stated above, we are asking members to email a copy of the letter to URA Ad Hoc Committee member Stephanie Crozier at Please remove any personal contact information from the letter. We will be using these letters to track how many members have been affected by the new policy change and which Rx drugs are no longer being covered without prior authorizations needed.

Happy Holidays

Previous information dated 12–14-17:

The URA has established an ad hoc committee to review and monitor the transition and required pre-authorization of the OPTUMRx prescription service. In light of these changes the committee will apprise members of important information as we receive it. The new prescription plan goes into effect December 23, 2017.

You should be receiving your new prescription cards from OPTUMRx this week. If you do not receive your new prescription cards and information by Friday 12/15/2017, please contact OPTUMRx by calling 844–368-8740 to request your Welcome packet with new prescription cards.

Please stay tuned for additional information regarding “disruption letters” (letters with subject line of “Important Pharmacy Benefit Information” or “Information Regarding Pharmacy Benefit”) and the appeal process for your impacted prescriptions.

Local 1766