We’re writing today with a couple of updates on different issues in our battles for the Rutgers we deserve:
PTL and staff layoff threats: In the School of Arts and Sciences, New Brunswick, both Part-Time Lecturers and staff admins have been threatened with layoffs, and we believe the administration has more job cuts in store. SAS faculty have petitioned for an emergency meeting of the School to demand that the layoffs be reversed in light of steady enrollment and restored state funding. We are also preparing to take our message to the Board of Governors at their October 7 meeting. If you’d like to speak at the open session scheduled for 1 p.m., fill out this form.
“Mandatory” COVID self-screening apps: All of you received an email from the administration last week instructing you to use two “mandatory” apps as part of the university’s health monitoring system. This information is inaccurate. In Coalition discussions with management, we were assured that: 1) the administration will bring such matters to unions before acting in the future; 2) use of the apps is not “mandatory” in the sense that you cannot be disciplined if you don’t use them; 3) if you don’t have a smartphone or don’t want to use one, you can use a computer or the paper process currently in place; 4) there will be no data collection by third parties; and 5) the only data collected by OIT will be the Visitors Log, which will be stored for 30 days for the purposes of contact tracing, and then deleted. We were assured in no uncertain terms about these last two limits on data collection.
Misinformation about Furloughs and Our Work-Sharing Program: We are hearing from some members about management misinformation circulating that our union rejected an administration proposal for furloughs, so they had to demand deeper cuts from lower-paid faculty and staff. This is a lie.
It was our Coalition of Rutgers Union that developed a work-sharing plan last spring that would have saved the university more than $100 million through furloughs while protecting all of our members’ full income under the CARES Act. Our union discussed and agreed to accept furloughs under our unions’ proposal in order to protect our coworkers from layoffs.
If management had responded promptly, they could have saved more than enough to cover the deficit they reported for the 2019–20 fiscal year. Instead, they dragged their feet, refusing to cooperate with the Coalition. When they did impose furloughs on nonunion employees and some union staff, the CARES Act had nearly expired, so it was too late to protect workers’ full incomes. To be clear, management has never proposed a furlough or work-sharing program for our members—not before June 30 and not after July 1. They simply walked away from our proposal and declared a “fiscal emergency.” Combined with our union efforts to restore nearly $100 million in proposed state funding cuts, the university would have netted nearly $200 million between work-sharing and restored state funds.
There is still some hope that Congress will reach an agreement soon on another COVID relief bill that would include a federal unemployment booster. If this passes and is signed into law, our Coalition would again be willing to sit down with management to determine how state funding, federal aid, and work-sharing could work together to avoid austerity and put our students and colleagues first. But we will do so knowing that they, not us, rejected this approach last time.
Todd and Becky
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rutgers AAUP-AFT Facebook page: https://facebook.com/RUaaup/
Follow us on Twitter and Instagram: @ruaaup
Find the latest messages to members and union statements here.
Read how Rutgers AAUP-AFT is confronting the crisis here.