Category Archives: We R Not Disposable

Telecommuting: What to Know (March Update)

Updated 3/8/2021

On Wednesday, March 3, Vivian Fernandez sent out a message that extends the relaxation of rules around telecommuting until April 30, 2021. This is a welcome respite, but it contradicts what she told us in January: that telecommuting would be extended to May 31.

We continue to expect telecommuting to be extended through May 31.  We will also advocate for a safe reopening and repopulation at the appropriate time.

If you currently have a telecommuting agreement, then there is no change. If your manager attempts to change to your work schedule, and there is a request for additional in-person work, ask your manager, “what has changed operationally?”. This is not the time to let our guard down, and we will continue to fight for to keep you healthy and safe.

Steps to protect your rights:

You do not need to reapply for a telecommuting arrangement that was already approved and on file.  Continue to work according to that plan.

  1. If you are told to return to in-person work ask your supervisor: “what is the operational need?”  Important: make sure you get a response in writing. Some managers try to avoid this question and instead explain to you all of the safety measures in place on campus. Continue to insist on a response to only this question.
  2. If there is no true critical operational need for in-person work, contact us immediately.  Your supervisor does not have total discretion to force you to return if your work truly can be performed remotely.
  3. If there is a critical need for in-person work, make sure the safety measures are appropriate.  If not, you should object to working under unsafe conditions.
  4. If you have a medical or family reason for not working in-person (and there is actually a critical need for in-person work), request a flexible work hours arrangement that includes telecommuting or a leave request.  Important: this should be your last option.  Attempt steps 1 through 4 first.

If you are requested to return to work in person and there is no operational need to do so, please contact us to help. This is particularly impactful as parents of school age students will require greater flexibility as K‑12 schools reopen.

Sign the petition for libraries staff safety and equity

Click here to sign:
http://chng.it/MpJDbJrKhJ

URA members in the Libraries at Newark and Camden call for safe working conditions, expanded telecommuting. Please sign and share our online petition. Libraries staff in New Brunswick / Piscataway have a safer work schedule. Why not Newark or Camden?
Our Demand: Immediately close the premises of Rutgers’ Newark and Camden libraries except for essential cleaning and maintenance until at least the beginning of the Spring 2021 semester. Implement staffing by teams alternating in-person and remote work through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency

With Newark once again at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet staff (but not faculty or students) at Dana Library were required to defy the municipal stay-at-home declaration by Mayor Baraka, and report daily to an almost empty campus.

Rutgers- Camden, too, has most classes virtual and low campus occupancy . Camden, too, is experiencing a surge in COVID cases, yet staff (not faculty, not students) are required to report to Robeson Library every day.

The safety of Library staff members matters as much as the library faculty. Library faculty assigned to the Newark or and Camden campuses work 100% remotely.

Library staff have never been classified as “essential” workers.
If we are “One Rutgers”, let’s treat our staff like that is true. Let’s protect them from unnecessary exposure in their daily commute and on the job.

O’Connell to BOG: “use your influence to rescind the layoffs”

Statement from Christine O’Connell, President
Union of Rutgers Administrators

Rutgers University Board of Governors Meeting
December 17, 2020

My name is Christine O’Connell and I am the president of the Union of Rutgers Administrators-American Federation of Teachers (URA-AFT) and I represent over 2,500 staff who work at Rutgers in hundreds of depts. that span all aspects of academics, libraries, auxiliary services and operations. We are the backbone of this University. When you choose to find savings through layoffs that devastate our lives and the lives of our families, it is a poor choice. You impact not only the staff who are laid off and their families, but you hurt the very students that we espouse to serve. 

Your consideration of spending more money to purchase 3 floors at the Gateway building instead of leasing at this time is not one that we support. Perhaps there are reasons that I’m not aware of that this may be a long term cost savings, but when over 1,000 people are laid off and struggling to make ends meet and put food on their tables during one of the worse economic downturns in American history and during a global pandemic, you should choose to retain workers.

Your employees are the people who provide the exemplary service to our students. Students come to Rutgers to get a stellar education to help move them towards success as adults. My members take great pride in their part in that process, from recruiting them, reviewing their applications in admissions, guiding and advising them through their educational journey, feeding them, housing them, and yet continue to be overlooked as integral contributors in Rutgers’ success. We are a great University because of their work. 

Decisions to impact their livelihood are made at a much higher level than ours, but for some reason, those who are making the decisions don’t seem to be cut, even when their work is not vital to the service of our students. Top administration continues to grow, and you shrink those who actually do the work. This hurts our students.
We ask that Board of Governors to use your influence to rescind the layoffs that have happened and return those who have separated and are separating soon, the 8 people in libraries, dozens across EFNEP, Genetics, Physics, Economics, ESL, English, History, Political Science, and dining. These people who were laid off are integral to their departments. Some may be the only administrative person in their department who manage the grants, make sure money is properly spent and accounted for, assist our students, educate in the community and so many more things. Their absence is more than a cost savings, their loss is measurable and leaves a void for our students, and they certainly make more of a difference in the success of our students than whether we purchase another 3 floors at the Gateway building.