Takeaway: Please read our detailed guidance to members below, and continue to share additional concerns raised by the COVID-19 crisis with us here.
We hope you and your families are staying safe and healthy at this time of tremendous uncertainty. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to provide you with the best guidance possible on how to conduct work – teaching and non-teaching – and also protect your personal health and the health and safety of others, including family, other employees and our students. We know many of you are preparing to start teaching remotely on Monday. We are working hard to ensure that all our faculty, grad workers, postdocs and EOF counselors have what they need at this difficult time.
The University has issued two important memos – an updated one on telecommuting and the other regarding the conduct of research. We encourage departments, research centers and labs to implement the directives in these two memos, as well as online instruction, in the most progressive and permissive manner as possible. Please take the time to get in touch with staff and find out how they are doing, and how you can support them. As individual members with authority, chairs, directors and principal investigators should use their broad discretion to approve all reasonable accommodation requests as a best practice. Anyone who can work remotely, should be permitted to work remotely. Anyone who is non-essential, should be sent home without loss of wages or charging of personal time, within that discretion.
For online instruction, we suggest you read this article, ignoring the title, for some understanding of the practicality and reasonable expectations of courses being moved online suddenly, but also the general psyche of both student and instructor during this crisis.
Should you require any work to be conducted in person, we recommend that you follow CDC best practices and advice to protect our most vulnerable colleagues – faculty, grad workers, PTLs, postdocs and staff. Where possible, this work should be rotated among those less vulnerable.
For those of you who are currently on the tenure track, or otherwise in a probationary period, we have asked Rutgers to allow you to extend the clock by one year, and to exclude Spring 2020 teaching evaluations from all renewal and promotion files. Extension would be at your option. The university has let us know that they’ll need some indefinite amount of time to consider this issue, in spite of our firm statement that they could significantly alleviate stress and anxiety by making a swift, clear announcement without delay. Peer institutions like Ohio State have already taken the lead on this.
For our hourly colleagues (particularly student workers) who rely on their wages, we should try to keep them on payroll within our discretion and regardless of the ability to telecommute. We are pushing the university to guarantee them their expected income throughout this period of disruption. We are also pressing at the federal level for guaranteed funding for work study, student financial aid and research funding.
If you have concerns for your own health and safety, please notify someone in a position of authority as soon as possible that you are unable to report to campus. Remember that chairs, directors and managers are concerned about your well-being and should know when you plan not to work because of your own illness, the illness of a family member, or concern for health and safety. Our contract guarantees that “No negotiations unit member shall be required to work under conditions where there has been a determination, on a reasonable basis in fact, that those conditions pose an imminent danger to health and safety.” [Article 20] Recommendations on social distancing and the wisdom of self-quarantining support a total ban on non-essential employees from reporting to campus worksites.
We’ll be contacting you soon with more ways to keep in touch with us, including drop-in Zoom video-conference office hours where union officers and staff will be available to answer your questions. In the coming days we’ll schedule drop-in hours specifically for graduate workers, to make sure there’s an opportunity to discuss your particular concerns.
If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions for us, please fill in this form or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also check your email regularly and visit the University’s COVID-19 webpage for more information and resources.
Be well, take care of yourself and your loved ones, and please keep in touch with us as we navigate this crisis together. Please look for regular updates on our social media feeds by liking/following us at: Facebook, and Twitter and Instagram, @RUaaup. and please remember to implement your responses to this crisis in the most progressive manner.
Todd & Becky
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Vice-President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT