HPAE Local 5094 Message to Rutgers – We Are Filing a Class Action Grievance. It’s Past Time to Implement Remote Work - Health Professionals & Allied Employees

HPAE Local 5094 Message to Rutgers – We Are Filing a Class Action Grievance. It’s Past Time to Implement Remote Work

Please complete a brief health and safety survey and sign our class action grievance here https://forms.gle/hSn5W91N2B7fZoZr8

As you know, almost two weeks ago we reached out to President Holloway and EVP Tony Calcado to call on Rutgers to immediately implement remote work for all members who can work remotely. Initially, the response we received was that EVP Calcado, who is responsible for the COVID-19 response at Rutgers, was on vacation until January 10th with no access to e-mail. Days later, we received a response from Calcado, which in part said: “We continue to implement our contingency plans, beginning with the announcements on December 20th. I expect we will be making further adjustments in the coming weeks”. For a university that likes to stress that “the health and safety of our community remains our top priority,” waiting weeks to remove us from harm’s way as COVID cases skyrocket sends a very different message.

While Rutgers did finally act to merely “encourage” remote work, they once again left choices up to individual departments, to predictable and chaotic result. Some of us have been told that we may not work from home, despite having done so successfully for much of last year. Some are permitting remote work for now but are expecting employees back on campus five days a week as early as next week. Still others who work on state contracts are being told by Rutgers that they must work on site, even as the state workers they work with have been directed to work remotely, A few departments even chose to do the right thing immediately after the December 20th announcement.

While we continue to hear from members who are unreasonably being denied the ability to work remotely, we also need to hear from you. Please complete a brief survey and sign our class action grievance demanding remote work: https://forms.gle/hSn5W91N2B7fZoZr8

If you’ve not already done so, contact your supervisor to request that you be permitted to work remotely (sample text here) and let us know the response and if you feel you have been unreasonably denied. Encourage your co-workers to do the same. While it appears as if we may have had some impact in Rutgers’ decision to extend remote work until the end of the month, and to provide COVID testing for even vaccinated staff working on site, there is still much more they could be doing – like providing N95s to all staff who need to work on site, and directing that management send employees home rather than making it an option.

We will be having departmental membership meetings in the coming weeks to talk about these issues, but as always, if you have an emergency health and safety issue, please reach out to a union rep immediately.

In solidarity,

Ryan Novosielski, Co-President, HPAE Local 5094
Justin O’Hea, Co-President, HPAE Local 5094