Category Archives: Events

We Opened the Books!

Open The Books: An analysis of Rutgers financial reserves.

When: Friday, May 1, 5:00 PM
Archive: Click here for a recording and copy of PowerPoint slides (external link)

Coalition of Rutgers Unions Statement: No Decisions About Us, Without Us

Our Coalition of Rutgers Unions, representing 20,000 unionized employees, will not allow the Rutgers administration to turn this tragedy into a disaster for the people who make Rutgers work. We are appalled by the weeks-long delay in receiving personal protective equipment.

We are infuriated by the announced and threatened layoffs of many of the lowest-paid employees, and we are dismayed by the lack of transparency about Rutgers true financial condition. As the people who make Rutgers work, even during a pandemic, our unions must have a critical role in shepherding this institution through the crisis. The voices of workers must be centered if we are to make urgent health, safety and financial decisions that impact millions throughout the state of New Jersey.

The truth is without our labor, Rutgers cannot function. We run communications and administration, pick up trash, deliver mail, and clean facilities. We care for patients, and support, teach, mentor, and assist tens of thousands of students. We conduct some of the leading scientific research in dozens of fields, including the fight against COVID-19. Our voices matter in this current crisis and for the future well-being of this university.

The immediate choice is stark: Rutgers can either lead with values that put human safety, security, and well-being at the center of its universe or it can willfully go down the path of corporate-driven austerity — a model that protects the elite and throws the rest of us to the wolves. Instead of Rutgers eat-what-you-kill Responsibility Center Management budgeting, we demand People-Centered Management and we call on the University to put our people first!

Every budget is a statement of priorities and values. Rutgers entered this crisis with the largest subsidy of hundreds of millions of dollars from the academic mission to athletics and the greatest management bloat in the Big Ten. Now, President Barchi plans to lay off 20% of adjunct faculty, or 600 teachers. The total adjunct workforce of 3,000 teach more than 30% of all classes and collectively earn less than 1% of Rutgers’ budget. Further, he leaves another 1600 employees without union contracts at all. This kind of austerity-maximum pain for minimum gain- makes no sense.

Meanwhile, about 250 in senior management continue to take home more than $250,000 each for an annual cost of $80 million. The fact that it is these same managers who are making decisions to deprive those who barely earn a living is a real problem.

It mimics the injustices we are seeing at the national level with massive bailouts for large corporations and peanuts for those actually doing the work. It is time to reverse this intolerable status quo. Here’s what our Coalition of Rutgers Unions is demanding:

  • Secure urgently needed PPE for Rutgers employees
  • No layoffs
  • Settlement of all outstanding union contracts
  • Access to health care for all Rutgers workers, including part-timers
  • Full transparency of Rutgers finances and crisis plans
  • Carry over all earned vacation and sick time
  • Union involvement in all job continuity and work reassignment decisions.

One thing is clear: Rutgers will not emerge as a healthy institution from this crisis if management keeps making decisions that harm the fundamental mission of the university. We need an honest accounting of the university’s $4.6 billion a year budget, and we need an honest accounting of the university’s approximate $1.9 billion in reserves, including unrestricted reserves of nearly $600 million.

Because no sober decisions can be made about our financial priorities without this information, our Coalition is hosting our own Open the Books event on Friday, May 1st, at 5pm to be live-streamed and recorded, so that we can hear from our own accounting experts on Rutgers’s reported numbers.

Standing up for our contract

Dear Member,

I hope that you and your families are all safe and well. These last few weeks have been harrowing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and caused much stress and anxiety. I trust that many of you are adjusting to working from home and are faring well. For those who are still working on campus, know your union is working hard to protect your safety.

In the last couple of weeks, Senior VP of Human Resources, Vivian Fernandez, has sent several emails that have caused consternation. We addressed some of these concerns to the Office of Labor Relations and wanted to share that we continue to protect the terms and conditions of employment that we negotiated in our contract.

Therefore, contrary to the email on April 2, 2020, reclassifications (Article 35), acting appointments (Article 2), and in-grade adjustments (Article 39) are not suspended actions for members of the URA. If you have been considering taking any of those actions to correct your compensation for the additional work that you have done and/or additional work that you continue to do, please begin the process now. If you experience any difficulty with any of the processes, please contact us at

Further corrections in response to Ms. Fernandez’s email from April 10, 2020, our performance evaluation (SCP) time period is May 1, 2019-April 30, 2020. Use the self-appraisal to document the many things that you do that keep Rutgers working every day and your contribution to the success of the University. If the job description reveals added scope and responsibility in your work, you should consider taking advantage of the self-reclassification process outlined in Article 35 in our contract.

I invite you to join us in our first virtual General Membership meeting for all campuses on Monday, April 20, 2020. The agenda includes: Secretary Minutes, Treasurer’s report and updates on COVID-19 issues. Please see the meeting information below.

Apr 20, 2020, 5:30 PM 

Register in advance for this meeting: (registration information was sent too members only via email)

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Looking forward to seeing you soon. Please stay and well.

In solidarity,

Christine O’Connell

URA-AFT Meeting At AFTNJ Legislative Conference

URA 031619 AFTNJ Legislative Conference
URA-AFT members after Saturday’s Legislative conference in East Brunswick.

URA-AFT members after Saturday’s Legislative conference in East Brunswick.

URA members met Saturday, April 16, to participate in union building and planning activities aimed at getting a fair contract and building a stronger union for better working conditions across the university. “Our strength is in an active membership who are willing to speak up for equity in pay and demand fair working conditions at Rutgers,” said Christine O’Connell, URA-AFT President.

More photos from Legislative Conference