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.