Category Archives: Health & Safety

Task Force Issues Are Also Union Negotiations Issues

New Brunswick, NJ—The Future of Work (FoW) Task Force, established by President Holloway to reflect on lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and to offer recommendations for the future of work at Rutgers, held listening sessions open to faculty and staff on February 17, February 25, and March 1.

Although URA and other staff unions requested to be included on the task force, none were appointed. Speakers could briefly address the listening sessions, and the number of speakers was limited for each session.  In spite of these limitations, a number of URA-AFT members spoke, proposing policies that could be implemented at Rutgers. These included continued telecommuting and flexible work arrangements, robust health and safety practices, and the meaningful inclusion of workers into decision-making processes concerning their workplaces.

Additionally, URA-AFT members raised issues that the FoW should take into account when making their recommendations. These included the ongoing normalization of burnout culture, the unreasonable demands often placed upon understaffed teams, and the lack of policies, practices, and pay reflecting the values of a “Beloved Community” within Rutgers.

URA-AFT members proposed several solutions to these issues, including salary improvements, compensatory pay for additional workloads, retention pay, and other methods to recognize employees, the details of which could be negotiated for aligned employees.

URA-AFT members and union representatives advocated for a fair and permanent telework option that balances safety, professional requirements, and environmental concerns. URA-AFT, along with other unions at Rutgers, will be at the negotiating table with management this year, bringing this proposal and other lessons learned during the pandemic to the table.

My Office A/C is Broken, Now What?”

Here’s what you should do if you are forced to work in extreme indoor temperatures:

  1. Immediately report the issue to REHS and make a facilities work order
  2. Notify your supervisor that you are reporting a safety violation and object to working under unsafe conditions until the repairs are complete:

    “I object to working under extreme temperatures that deviate from the recommendations of OSHA and PEOSH because it can or has already impacted my health and safety and will cause an eminent continued threat to my wellbeing.  As an alternative, I intend to leave the workplace and continue working remotely if/until the work environment is safe.  Moving forward, working remotely is the safest option until the HVAC is fully operational.”

    Reference: OSHA recommends temperature control in the range of 68–76° F and humidity control in the range of 20%-60%. Rutgers, as a public employer, is required to uphold a general duty of maintaining a workplace free from hazards according to PEOSH. Compliance with the OSHA recommendation will fulfill that duty. Violations may be reported to PEOSH at:
  1. If you’ve already experienced illness from the extreme heat conditions, notify your supervisor that you are feeling ill and must leave sick for the rest of the day. Request that the absence be precessed though the Occupational Health Department and that you should not be made to use your own sick time.