Takeaway: Look below for critical information on: 1) Q&A sessions held with UHR representatives to troubleshoot work-sharing problems; 2) Updated instructions on applying for unemployment; 3) Guidance for those of us who must apply by phone; and 4) What to do if you should be exempted from work-sharing but have been told you are participating.
The work-sharing program is now underway, and our union leadership and staff are working all-out to fix problems and provide information to help you with this process. Please read the sections below for critical additional information.
We knew that applying for unemployment or dealing with work-sharing eligibility would be an inconvenience at best and a time-consuming mess at worst. But our participation in work-sharing was how we achieved important priorities for our union, like job security for our staff and PTL colleagues, an improved grad extensions program, and payment of our deferred raises. We knew there would be problems, and we will work through them together and in solidarity with each other.
1. Q&A Sessions about Work-Sharing and Filing for Unemployment
Wednesday, April 21, 12:30 p.m. | Click here to RSVP
Wednesday, April 21, 4:00 p.m. | Click here to RSVP
Thursday, April 22, 12:30 p.m. | Click here to RSVP
Thursday, April 22, 4:00 p.m. | Click here to RSVP
Friday, April 23, 12:30 p.m. | Click here to RSVP
We’ll be holding Q&A sessions, with University Human Resources (UHR) representatives attending each one, to help you troubleshoot problems with filing for unemployment and work-sharing eligibility. Please try to make one of these sessions if you have a problem; we’ll be able to answer your questions together.
2. Updated Instructions on Applying for Unemployment
UHR has updated their instructions on filing a UI claim under our work-sharing program, based on your input yesterday from the first full day of applying. Click here to get UHR’s instructions, and click here to get our annotated version that highlights parts where you need to pay special attention. If you are experiencing problems, attend one of the Q&A sessions listed above, and keep filling out this google form to explain your specific problem; our staff got answers to more than 100 of you who wrote in yesterday.
The UHR instructions (and our annotated version of them) are more complete now, thanks to your input, but here are a few tips about issues that only came to our attention yesterday:
— If you are a member of our union, you can answer “yes” to being a union member and include the local number (6323) and the name of the union (Rutgers AAUP-AFT) when asked for it. But be sure to answer “no” to any question about being hired through the union. You were hired through the university, not our union. If you’re not a member of our union, you can answer “no” to being a union member. Whether you are a union member or not has no effect on your eligibility for unemployment.
— We’ve been stressing the importance of not certifying your continued eligibility for unemployment benefits, but you SHOULD click the submit button at the end of the application form and “certify” that your responses are true and accurate. If you are asked by a phone representative or in a later email to certify that you are unemployed, you should say “no” (even if the phone representative insists, since they will be unfamiliar with our work-sharing program).
— UHR’s instructions to find your “gross earnings for the past 12 months” on the myRutgers portal have been confusing for some. For this application, the NJ Department of Labor (DOL) wants your total earnings from Rutgers from January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020. This should include any additional income from Rutgers beyond your base salary, such as summer salary.
3. Guidance for Applying by Phone
If you don’t have a New Jersey driver’s license or state ID, you will have to apply by phone, and the NJDOL phone system was overwhelmed with our calls on the first day. Many of you got a message that no live agents would be available all day and to call back the next day.
We are working with the Department of Labor to develop an expedited process, and we are hopeful that one will be in place soon. Stay tuned to your emails from us for more updates. But in the meantime, keep trying. And despite what the updated instructions from UHR say, if you are asked to, please DO input information through the automated system. We have learned that this information IS saved by NJDOL. This will be critical to the expedited process we are working on.
It’s highly frustrating waiting on hold to talk to an agent—or worse, getting hung up on. But we will resolve this problem, even if it takes longer than we wanted. Everyone who is eligible for work-sharing will eventually be approved and get full payments for the duration of the program. If the process drags out past next week when our next paychecks are issued, our union will have a work-sharing loan program in place to tide over any faculty who need financial help.
4. Steps to Take if You Should Be Exempted from the Program but Weren’t
With a program this size, we knew that some of you who should be ineligible because of one of the exemptions to work-sharing would receive the confirmation email from UHR telling you that you are participating in work-sharing. If you haven’t already, please fill out the google form explaining your specific circumstances so we can track your cases (if you have filled out the form and didn’t get a response yet, we promise you will; our staff is working all out to deal with problems).
Steps to take: The first step is go to your department chair and department HR liaison and explain the situation. You can point not only to our Who Is Eligible? list of exemptions (which was confirmed as correct by UHR) but to the list at the main UHR site (click here to see the page, then click on the Exclusions and Exemptions bar).
If you don’t get a satisfactory response from your department in the next day or two, email us at email@example.com so we can keep track of which cases haven’t been resolved. We expect to have a dedicated person in central UHR to address these cases.
We’re trying to clear up these cases as soon as possible, but management has committed in its agreement with our union to make everyone whole if they should have been exempted from the program and are declared ineligible for unemployment.
There are a zillion other questions and issues with these programs, so if you didn’t find the information you needed here, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are working through these problems as quickly as we can, and we ask for your patience and solidarity.
Todd and Becky
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
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