Category Archives: AFT

Members: let’s share our resources to thrive!

In these uncertain times, let’s share our resources to thrive!

As we all continue to adapt to the changing times, I hope you and your families are well. Our union has been working hard to advocate for the health and safety for all and want to share some additional resources that will help with some of the changes in our lives.

In these uncertain times, with all the changes at Rutgers, we are adjusting to working from home, trying to keep focus as pandemic news continually updates, keeping ourselves and our families healthy, and the myriad of other things that impact each of us. It is more important than ever to keep communicating and sharing our resources to support each other.

We have created a Google Doc where we can share our best practices and success stories as we all develop different ways to cope to our new reality.   I encourage you all to take a minute and add to the Google Doc and share tips that you have developed to help as many are working from home. I look forward to learning from all of you as you share your experiences and frustrations.   We can learn from each other’s successes and share the knowledge on how we make Rutgers work every day.

URA members Best practices for thriving during COVID-19 pandemic  (link to Google Doc provided to members only).

URA-AFT owns and maintains this Google account and reserves the right to edit any comments that may be offensive, vulgar or abusive or restrict access as necessary.

Please continue to take action.

In addition, I have compiled a brief list of resources that may help with some aspects of your telecommuting life. If you have others, please share on the Google Doc above. Please comment if any of the suggested information is found to be inaccurate or outdated.

Keep yourself healthy

Tips for telecommuting

Childcare for essential workers

Stay active inside

COVID-19 updates

If your family member or friends have lost their jobs

Housing  and other help

Food

Many food stores are delivering to home but appointments are limited

Don’t forget, please share your best practices and success stories with all of us through this Google Doc: URA members Best practices for thriving during COVID-19 pandemic.

Stay safe and well.

In solidarity,
Christine O’Connell, President

The Student Debt Crisis

More than 45 million student loan borrowers owe student debt, a result of decades of disinvestment in public higher education that has shifted costs onto students and their families while leaving colleges and universities underfunded.

navient student debt graphic

Collectively, student debt is over $1.5 trillion, and this debt surpasses all types of household debt other than mortgages. Unlike holders of other types of consumer debt, who have experienced lower levels of delinquency and default since the Great Recession, student loan borrowers remain in distress.

Nearly 1 in 4 federal borrowers are in default or struggling to stay current on their loans, and additionally tackling debt collecting companies like bristow & sutor. When they fall behind on their payments, the consequences are dire: negative credit reports, wage garnishment and diminished options to cure defaulted loans.

Consumer credit reports—which are the keys to employment, housing and access to credit, and consequently to economic stability itself—are tarnished. This is why the AFT has launched a student debt clinic program to help our members. But we know that helping each other manage student debt is not enough; we need to join together and fight to change the terms of the debate about student debt.

Student Debt Survey

text screenshotAFT is currently surveying our members about their experiences with student debt. If you’ve gotten a text message like this one, that’s from us! To share your experience, take our survey (link is external).

URA-AFT Bargaining Bulletin: September 2018

AT THE TABLE:

  • The URA Bargaining team met with Rutgers’ Management team for three bargaining sessions in September 2018, bringing the total number of sessions to 13 overall since April 2018.
  • Tentative agreements were reached on Article 38 (Safety Committee) and Article 47 (Union-Employer Information Exchange). No new written proposals were exchanged with either side, but counterproposals were exchanged on Article 12 (Dining Services).
  • Union members presented personal testimonies to proposals including: Bereavement Leave, Employees Living on Campus, and Dining Services.
  • URA steward and subject expert Karen White from the Center for Women and Work at SMLR joined the team for a detailed discussion of management’s proposal on FMLA and other legal leave provisions. The URA’s information request to Rutgers management providing evidence of how Rutgers has administered FMLA/NJFLA/NJSAFE leave is still outstanding.

Why so much talk about FMLA and Sick Leave?

URA and our coalition partners are emphasizing protection for our FMLA and Sick Leave rights. Over 10 years, we have observed that Rutgers does NOT give equal treatment or provide clear guidelines on how to administer these legal protections.

Work/family balance…We have made many gains in this area:

  • Expanding sick time to care for family members from 5 to 15 days
  • Educating members on what laws like FMLA, NJFLA and NJSAFE can provide, and
  • Guaranteeing the right to use sick time for medical appointments

Now, we are bargaining to establish clear, fair and workable contract language to protect our members who face health challenges. If Rutgers really believes in employee wellness, as it claims to, we believe that a win-win agreement can be found.

Real News from Management? Or not…

Don’t be fooled by Vivian Fernandez’s emails touting recent agreements with unions and their offer of 3% raises to the Teamsters and even some non-aligned employees.

You need to know that the Teamsters Local 97 only represents 1,700 employees in legacy UMDNJ titles and the Fraternal Order of Police Local 164, approximately 43 superior officers. Our URA-AFT 1766 represents 2,500 employees.

You also need to know what Vivian is leaving out of her emails:

  • The Teamsters’ agreement says nothing about health insurance costs. How much of their increase will be eaten up by health care contributions? They don’t know.
  • The Teamsters’ agreement does not protect their members’ jobs from massive privatization—Barchi and Strom are giving Rutgers’ clinical operations around the state to Barnabas Health…where Teamster jobs will be replaced by RWJ-Barnabas workers.
  • The Teamsters agreed to language that will limit their rights to sick leave and FMLA/NJFLA protection. (See description of URA bargaining above.) Their FMLA will be charged concurrently with sick time (a major crisis could put one’s job in jeopardy much faster than the benefits URA-AFT members have now).
  • The Fraternal Order of Police Local 164 agreement is retroactive to July 1, 2014 and runs out June 30, 2019 – meaning they will be back at the bargaining table in less than a year!
  • Finally, non-aligned staff (Managerial, Professional, Supervisory and Confidential employees) have been “given” 3% for this year, but still don’t know how much their healthcare contributions will be…AND, they have no job security at all. They are “at-will employees” and can be fired at any time, for any reason.

Vivian Fernandez’s emails are calculated to persuade you to be disgruntled about and question the value of your union membership, in general, and tempt you into becoming impatient with unfinished contract negotiations involving YOUR own union.

Watch this video to see what union members are doing to ensure we negotiate a strong contract, not a meaningless sweetheart deal, that will benefit YOU as a URA member.

Join union members Thursday in Camden in their fight for contracts:

Between noon and 1 PM on October 4 members from all the unions on campus will be gathering in front of the Camden Campus Center, 326 Penn St., Camden, NJ for a speak out session. At 1:30 PM we will speak to the Board of Governors to insist that contract be settled inside the campus center.