We’ve been working on several important issues and have some updates. Be on the lookout for notices in the coming week about our next set of membership meetings.
COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate
Rutgers amended their flu vaccine policy, now entitled “Immunization Policy for Covered Individuals” and numbered 100.3.1, to include the COVID-19 vaccine and has expanded who at Rutgers is required to be vaccinated. The notification states that all employees covered by this policy must be vaccinated by August 1st. HPAE and the other Coalition of Rutgers Unions (CRU) who are impacted by the Rutgers COVID-19 vaccine mandate have demanded to bargain over the impacts of the mandate. Rutgers finally offered us dates to bargain the week before their mandate is supposed to take effect and met with the Unions for one hour on Monday, July 26th and have offered us 3 hours on Friday, July 30th.
The vaccines are expected to be removed from Emergency Use Authorization in the next few months. Since the courts have been siding with the employers, the Unions have asked to negotiate over the impacts of the mandate, which the employer is legally obligated to do. The Coalition of Rutgers Unions gave Rutgers our proposals on Monday. We expect Rutgers to respond during the week and for bargaining to resume this Friday.
Rutgers has suggested that the Unions were not supportive of vaccines. We wish to make this completely clear: HPAE supports vaccines, and we strongly encourage you to get vaccinated if you have not already. This helps you, your family, your co-workers, and your community and – most importantly – will keep you safe from the 1000x more spreadable Delta variant and help to end this pandemic. We understand that a vaccine is a personal choice and that some of you may have reservations and/or questions. We will continue to negotiate for the rights of those who may not be ready for the COVID-19 vaccine. We are also asking that unvaccinated individuals remain masked and get tested frequently. If you are not currently vaccinated and are considered a “covered individual,” you will need to get vaccinated immediately, or to explore a medical or religious exemption to the policy.
Rutgers declared a Fiscal Emergency and the CRU negotiated a Furlough Program and dates for the raises to be paid in the Fiscal Emergency Memorandum of Agreement (FEMOA). Rutgers did not comply with the date that raises should have been paid. The CRU contacted the arbitrator over this delay, and met with the arbitrator on Monday, July 19th . She determined the University violated the agreement and ordered them to pay the increases no later than August 6th. We understand that there has been no recent communication from Rutgers about these increases. HPAE has received confirmation that the raises for grant funded and non-grant funded members will be paid in the August 6th pay period.
Furloughs and Unemployment Insurance 5094
While most of our members have experienced no problems receiving their unemployment payments for the work-share furlough period, some have experienced issues that are not yet resolved with the Department of Labor. If you are one of these members, please email your local union representative for assistance. Please put in the subject line: Rutgers UI Issues. We have drafted a letter to go directly to the State, as Rutgers HR has been less than responsive in resolving these issues. When your issue is resolved, please let us know.
If you have been receiving payments, be sure to count the number of payments you have received, which should be ten in total for the base unemployment, and the equivalent of ten $300 payments for the federal enhanced unemployment. Be mindful of the fact that they may have started a few weeks after furloughs began, so you may still have outstanding payments. Be sure to contact your local representative in the event some time passes, and things still don’t seem right.
Sabrina Brown-Oliver, Vice President, HPAE Local 5089
Ryan Novosielski, Co-President, HPAE Local 5094
Justin O’Hea, Co-President, HPAE Local 5094