Our unions won a temporary restraining order against the Rutgers administration’s new masking policy that will allow individual instructors discretion to require masks in their classrooms. In addition, masking will continue to be mandatory in the libraries. These have been our goals from the start this Fall: give instructors the right to weigh the concerns and judge what is best within their classrooms for their health and safety and that of their families, students, and communities.
Unfortunately, you received an email from the administration this afternoon misrepresenting our position. We did not ask for the universal mask mandate to continue; our goal of instructor discretion was reflected in our legal filing.
When we learned (with little notice) that Rutgers would no longer require face coverings in classrooms and libraries as of today, we called on the administration to, in the words of our Executive Council resolution, “empower and support all teaching faculty who retain and implement mandatory masking for all students in their classroom.”
Management ignored our requests. If the Office of University Labor Relations had negotiated with our union in good faith or been willing to take a collaborative approach, they wouldn’t have had to reverse course a few hours after the new masking policy went into effect.
As we wrote last week, we know there are different views about masking at our university. But we hope there can be common ground among us that each of us must be able to make decisions about our classrooms and workspaces. The administration’s unilateral mid-semester change—at a time when the COVID pandemic is still taking 350 lives a day in the United States—does not respect this basic individual right. We know that some of you committed to teaching in person this semester with the understanding that masking would stay in place.
Thanks to our amazing union staff and attorneys for their quick work on this important issue. If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions about what the PERC order means for you or about our actions; you can email us at email@example.com.
Becky and Todd
Rebecca Givan, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Todd Wolfson, General Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
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