Takeaway: GET VACCINATED (if you haven’t already)! See below for new developments regarding a vaccine requirement for faculty, including union negotiations over a mandate for health care and public safety workers that hopefully will set a pattern for the rest of us. Bring your questions to our health and safety town hall on Wednesday, August 25, at 5 p.m. (click here to RSVP).
Our concerns about the safety of our campus and community are growing with the latest surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, driven by the Delta variant and uneven levels of vaccination. We’re writing to you today about what our union is doing along with the Coalition of Rutgers Unions to protect the health of faculty, students, staff, and the community.
Clearly, the hope for ending the pandemic lies with widespread vaccination. We welcomed the administration’s decision to require students to be vaccinated if they plan to live or attend classes on campus. Our union’s Executive Council passed a resolution back in May endorsing a similar requirement for full-time faculty and postdocs represented by our union, as long as the university recognizes legal and medical causes for exemptions and approves related requests for accommodation.
Some of our colleagues have been told that our union blocked the university from requiring vaccinations for faculty. This is entirely false. Months ago, our EC passed its resolution, and we asked management to negotiate over the terms of a mandate. Sadly, they didn’t respond to our proposals, despite their claims to lead the way in requiring student vaccinations. Recently, the administration did announce that it would require vaccinations for health care and public safety employees. One of our union coalition partners, Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE), has taken the lead in the required impact negotiations over this policy change, and our union and others are coordinating our efforts.
We hope that any agreement reached with HPAE will set a pattern for a broader mandate. Assuming the agreement is satisfactory, we will support a similar requirement under similar terms for faculty members and postdocs. In the meantime, several of our colleagues are circulating a petition calling on Rutgers to apply the student vaccine mandate to on-campus faculty. We hope you sign and share this petition.
Throughout the spring and this summer, our unions have been engaged in discussions over the reopening of campuses. We want management to respond to the dangers of the Delta variant by tightening its current masking policies. Given the potential for vaccinated individuals to spread the Delta variant while remaining asymptomatic, we believe Rutgers’ testing policy, which exempts anyone who is fully vaccinated, is inadequate. We are also pressing management for answers about their commitment to upgrade building ventilation systems.
We want you to have a chance to ask your questions about health and safety, so we’ve organized a town hall meeting on Wednesday, August 25, at 5 p.m., where we’ll hear from our unions’ experts on the subject, along with faculty sharing their experiences of teaching in-person in the Spring. Click here to RSVP and mark the date on your calendar.
Finally, please go get vaccinated now, if you haven’t already (click here to read the Rutgers Health page on where to get the vaccine). And upload your proof of vaccination to the Rutgers portal, so we know our communities are doing everything we can to keep each other safe. You don’t have to wait for a mandate to protect yourself, your family, your colleagues, and your students.
Becky and Todd
Rebecca Givan, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Todd Wolfson, General Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
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