COVID 19 AAUP-BHSNJ Frequently Asked Questions

1. Many departments are asking for clinical faculty to volunteer in our hospitals. What is the union’s position on this?

Given the crisis, we are encouraging all our faculty to become engaged on a voluntary basis. We understand that department chairs are developing plans for faculty to be re-assigned to assist with the crisis. We think much more thought on how best to match particular faculty expertise with particular expertise is required. For example, an ENT doctor who has more experience intubating a patient would be best employed in that function. Additionally, faculty members who are in high-risk groups should get first preference for telemedicine where those opportunities exist.

2. Are private childcare centers open for “essential employees”?

Yes, starting April 1, 2020, essential employees are eligible for childcare. “Essential employees” are defined as “healthcare workers” and “Essential government employees who are unable to work from home”. These employees will be able to enroll their children in approved daycare locations. Many of our members fall into those categories.

Also, New Jersey Medical School students have created a page where they will connect healthcare workers with child care services.

3. Are there housing arrangements for medical faculty taking care of COVID-19 patients and do not wish to go home at the end of work?

Yes. In Newark, Woodward Hall. In addition, the New Jersey Department of Health has arranged for free accommodations at the Marriott Courtyard in Secaucus.

4. I am on the tenure-clock. Can a year from my tenure-clock probationary period be excluded?

Yes, faculty on the tenure-clock have the right to exclude a year from their probationary time period, and thereby gain another year to achieve tenure. They must make this request by May 1st.

5. What is the latest with PPE and testing?

Rutgers has provided us no updates with respect to PPE or testing of employees. PPE protocols have been largely set by the hospitals. These standards differ from one another. It is often confusing to keep them straight. We and other health professional unions have engaged at the state level to convey our uneasiness with the lack of standardization throughout the state. We think it unacceptable that any healthcare worker should not have access to PPE. We have advocated for this policy and encouraged our national AAUP union to engage on this matter as well.

Employee testing has also largely occurred through the hospitals, not Rutgers employee health. We have been told that at RWJMS “testing for COVID19 is available to RWJMS faculty and staff and is prioritized according to patient care duties and guidance by the CDC/DOH.” In truth, the availability is scarce. Our understanding is that the capacity to test in the RWJ Barnabas Health system will increase considerably. On the NJMS side, there is limited testing through the Division of Infectious Diseases.

The following link has the latest on other testing sites around the state

6. What is the status of our faculty labor contract bargaining?

In early March, and before the COVID-19 crisis, the University gave us their latest proposal, which included for the first time, the same base pay increases as all other unions received. However, t still required automatic salary deductions by as much as 5% to overall salary based on non-specific criteria used in annual evaluations. Equally, their latest proposal would pay NJMS clinical faculty a percentage of collections the particular faculty member generated from clinical care as either the average of FY 2018/19 or FY 2019 collections, whichever is higher. That would start in fiscal year starting July 1, 2020. This “fully variable supplement” would replace the faculty member’s current UPA collections, and likely result in a salary decrease for many faculty members. The “fully variable supplement” could then be reduced by a percent equal to a decrease in collection amount (assuming collections decrease in FY2021) in the year starting July 1, 2021. Their proposal also included none of the changes we requested that would enhance job security for faculty on term contracts. It further failed to include any parental leave benefits.

On March 20th, we largely agreed to their proposal with exception of the automatic salary decreases and the payment scheme for NJMS Clinical faculty in the second year. Our proposal in the second year, allowed the “fully variable supplement” to be cut as much 15%, as opposed to an unlimited cut as they had proposed. Our offer also included multi-year appointments for Assistant Professors with a proven track record of service, as well as 6-weeks of parental leave for faculty members to use upon birth or adoption of a child.

On March 26, 2020, the University withdrew the proposal they had offered in early March. At this time, we are uncertain where our negotiations stand. We do believe this crisis should mandate the need to reach an agreement. That would provide our faculty much needed support, as they are performing so valiantly in this challenging time.

7. Is Rutgers in financial emergency?

Rutgers has over $ 1 billion in reserves. While Rutgers may be experiencing cash flow issues, it is not in a severe financial situation relative to most other universities.

8. Do I have the right to take leave if I have COVID-19 or it is likely that I have COVID-19?

Yes, under recently passed NJ state legislation, you cannot be fired or terminated for taking time off if a “licensed medical professional” states that you “have or are likely to have” an infectious disease.

9. Does Rutgers provide any special leave for Covid-19? CPL (COVID-2019 Paid Leave)

Rutgers has announced the following policy with respect to leave. While it has not been bargained with any union, it provides:

All employees, except casual and hourly employees and student workers, will be eligible to apply for COVID-19 Paid Leave (CPL). Approval of CPL will be subject to the submission of appropriate documentation within five (5) business days of the initial absence, or, if the employee is already absent at the time these guidelines are issued, within five (5) business days of issuance of these guidelines. If CPL is approved, employees will be excused from work and will be paid their regular pay without being required to charge accrued paid time off (e.g., vacation, sick time, etc.) except as set forth in the Special Notes section in this memo. CPL may be approved under the following circumstances:

1) An employee is diagnosed with COVID-19;

2) An employee is directed by a medical professional or government agency to self-isolate or quarantine due to suspicion of exposure to or diagnosis with COVID-19;

3) An employee is undergoing a period of self-quarantine or isolation pursuant to public health assessment recommendations;

4) An employee is providing care to an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent, or someone who stood in loco parentis when you were a child) who (i) has been diagnosed with COVID-19, (ii) was directed by a medical professional or government agency to self-isolate or quarantine due to suspicion of exposure to or diagnosis with COVID-19, or (iii) is undergoing a period of self-quarantine or isolation pursuant to public health assessment recommendations, and/or

5) School Closure - An employee is staying at home to provide care for a child (defined as a biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild or legal ward of an employee, child of a domestic partner or civil union partner of the employee) due to the closure of the child’s preschool program, elementary or secondary school, or childcare center related to COVID-19.

a. If an employee is staying home due to School Closure as described above, the employee is required to work with their supervisor to identify any work functions that are critical to continuity of operations and the feasibility of the employee fulfilling those mission critical functions remotely through a mutually agreed upon flexible or modified work schedule.

b. If an employee provides patient care or is otherwise deemed essential in accordance with University Policy 60.1.29, even in the event of a School Closure as described above, the employee may be required to report to work and will be paid at their regular rate of pay.

10. What is the status of vacation carry over?

The university has not ventured an opinion on whether faculty whether be able to carry over vacation past the contractual cap. Many faculty are working hard and will not be able to take vacation. It is critical that they not by hurt. University Hospital has agreed to vacation carryover for its employees.

11. Should faculty fill-out telework agreements that HR has developed for the COVID-19?

We view this as unnecessary. The agreements HR has developed are mostly aimed at staff. Most faculty, on both the RBHS and non-RBHS side not keep track of their time in way that form suggests.

12. Is the state encouraging as many healthcare providers as possible to practice in their given area?

Yes. The executive order supplements the State’s existing health care workforce by:

Authorizing the Division of Consumer Affairs to temporarily reactivate the licensees of healthcare professionals previously licensed in the State within the last five years. This will enable doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who have recently retired or have allowed their licenses to lapse to temporarily reactivate their license.

Authorizing the Division of Consumer Affairs to grant temporary medical licenses to doctors who are licensed and in good standing in foreign countries.

Temporarily waiving certain scope of practice restrictions on Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) related to physician collaboration, including a rule requiring that an APN enter into a joint protocol with a collaborating physician and a rule requiring APNs to obtain authorization from a collaborating physician in order to dispense narcotic drugs.

Temporarily waiving certain scope of practice restrictions on Physician Assistants (PAs) related to physician supervision, including a rule requiring PAs to obtain physician authorization prior to prescribing a controlled dangerous substance.

See full copy of Executive Order 112

For more information, please contact your AAUP/BHSNJ Union at 732-247-8855.