Home>Highlight>Five Rutgers unions ratify work-sharing agreement in bid to avoid layoffs

Jonathan Holloway.

Five Rutgers unions ratify work-sharing agreement in bid to avoid layoffs

By Nikita Biryukov, April 07 2021 9:38 am

Five Rutgers unions ratified a work-sharing program that will see some workers furloughed for between half a day and a day each week Wednesday.

The agreement, ratified by five Rutgers unions — the AAUP-AFT, HPAE Locals 5094 and 5089, URA-AFT and CWA Local 1031 — would see most of their employees furloughed for one day a week for eight or 10 consecutive weeks, depending on the term of their employment.

Employees with AAUP-AFT, specifically the chapter covering fulltime workers, will be furloughed for half a day for 12 weeks.

“We finally got the administration to change direction and adopt our people-centered approach,” said Todd Wolfson, president of Rutgers AAUP-AFT.

The program is a bid to save on payroll costs by taking advantage of bolstered unemployment benefits, including $300 supplemental unemployment payments approved as part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill.

A number of workers, including those in the United States on work or student visas and union employees not belonging to AAUP-AFT who were laid off for more than 10 or eight days, depending on their term of employment, and recalled after June 2020 are exempt from the work-sharing agreement.

That’s also true for those on sabbaticals and workers who do not qualify for short-term benefits under the work sharing program due to a secondary appointment at the University.

Rutgers wasn’t spared from the fiscal fallout of the pandemic. The school last year issued a memo ordering a 20% cut to the number of adjuncts it employs.

“During very difficult times, the Coalition of Rutgers Unions pulled together to hammer out a historic plan that includes furloughs but protects jobs and our members,” said CWA Local 1031 executive vice president Kathy Hernandez. “This agreement sets an important example beyond Rutgers.”

In exchange for the furloughs, the university has agreed to limit layoffs until January 2022 and extend payments for certain teaching assistants and graduate assistants.

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