COVID-19 Rutgers Coalition Proposal

Reopening Impact Bargaining

The following unions seek joint negotiations over the impact on terms and conditions of employment resulting from the “reopening of the University,” including the return to work of employees who had been working remotely, and over the continuing health and safety issues for employees who have been working onsite during the COVID state of emergency:

  • AAUP-AFT – Full-time Chapter (including Post Docs and EOF)
  • AAUP-AFT – Part-time Lecturer Faculty Chapter
  • URA-AFT Local 1766
  • HPAE – Locals 5089 and 5094
  • CWA – Locals 1031 and 1040
  • NJEA
  • Operating Engineers Local 68
  • OPEIU Local 153
  • Doctors Council - SEIU
The above unions seek effects bargaining and advance the following proposals:

1. COVID Testing

a. The University and the unions shall agree upon guidelines to be used to determine when employees returning or continuing to work at the University will be required to undergo COVID testing.
b. The University and the unions shall agree upon access to COVID testing for employees, including the types of tests and the locations of test sites. Employees who have been exposed to COVID during the course of their employment shall have priority in testing.
c. In the event the cost of COVID testing is not fully covered by an employee’s health insurance, the University shall reimburse employees for any out-of-pocket costs associated with testing, including reimbursement for copays. Uninsured employees shall be provided with free testing and coverage with no copays. Employees shall receive paid time off to be tested without charge to paid leave banks.
d. Employees who test positive for COVID and who are engaged in patient care or have high in-person contacts with patients or students will be presumed to have contracted the virus at work. Employee exposures to patients confirmed to have COVID will be recorded in the facility incident log.
e. The University and the unions shall agree upon safeguards to protect the privacy of employees who test positive.

2. Contact Tracing

a. The University shall provide written notice to employees who have been exposed to COVID within eight (8) hours of known exposure, including treating a patient who is later confirmed to have COVID. The written notice shall include the date of exposure, assessment of exposure risk, and the University’s decision as to whether to permit the employee to be placed on paid leave in accordance with section 5 below. In addition, the University shall provide notice to the employee’s union.
b. The University shall provide written notice to all employees in the work location/building if someone tests positive or has been exposed to COVID.
c. Contact tracing shall be performed by employees hired into separate positions. Responsibility for contact tracing shall not be assigned as additional duties to full-time employees with other job responsibilities. Laid off or furloughed employees who possess the necessary skills to either serve as or be trained as contract tracers shall be offered placement in those positions.

3. PPE, Disinfecting Worksites and Ventilation

a. The University shall provide employees with adequate PPE to protect them from contracting or transmitting COVID at the workplace, including masks or appropriate face coverings, scrubs, and uniforms.
b. Negotiations unit members will be permitted to supply PPE for their own personal use. Employees shall not be disciplined for exercising their professional judgment to utilize personally provided PPE.
c. The University shall provide employees with a place to don and doff their uniforms so that they do not have to take their uniforms home. The University will be responsible for laundering the scrubs or uniforms.
d. Employees shall be required to wear masks while working at the University whenever appropriate social distancing is not possible or when there is a risk of transmitting or contracting COVID if masks are not worn.
e. The University shall institute measures to disinfect worksites daily to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, the transmission of COVID. Requests for a more frequent cleaning schedule shall not be unreasonably denied. Building and workspace cleaning schedules shall be available to all employees at each worksite.
f. Disinfectant supplies, including hand sanitizer, shall be available at all University worksites for use by employees.
g. The University shall provide properly ventilated worksites. HVAC systems shall be adjusted to appropriately vent buildings so that fresh air is cycled into the building. In areas where this is not possible, HEPA filtration machines shall be provided in to ensure that areas such as bathrooms and other confined spaces have adequate ventilation.

4. Telecommuting policy and remote work policy

a. The current University policy on telecommuting shall be extended until the beginning of the spring 2021 semester, or until the recession of Executive Order 107, Declaring a State of Emergency, whichever is later.
b. Employees working from home shall be provided with office equipment and supplies, including computers, printers, adequate internet access, and ergonomically correct office furniture at University expense.
c. If management requires an employee to return to work at a University worksite, the employee shall be provided with at least two-weeks notice and an explanation why the employee is no longer permitted to work remotely.
d. A new request to telecommute pursuant to University policy shall not be unreasonably denied.
e. Employees with underlying conditions, older employees who are at increased risk of contracting COVID, or employees who live with someone who is in a high risk category shall be permitted to telecommute. If the job responsibilities of such employees do not permit them to telecommute, they shall be granted paid leave in accordance with section 5 below, until medically cleared to return to work at the University.
f. The denial of a request to telecommute or to continue telecommuting may be grieved pursuant to the grievance procedures in the collective bargaining agreements between the University and the signatory unions.

5. COVID-19 Paid Leave (CPL)

a. Employees who qualify for CPL shall be placed on leave without any diminution of salary or benefits.
b. CPL shall be approved under the following circumstances:
i. An employee is diagnosed with COVID-19;
ii. 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;
iii. An employee is undergoing a period of self-quarantine or isolation pursuant to a public health assessment recommendation;
iv. 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, (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, or (iii) is undergoing a period of self-quarantine or isolation pursuant to public health assessment recommendations; and
v. 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.
If an employee is staying home due to School Closure as described above, the employee shall work with their supervisor to identify any work functions that are critical to continuity of operations and the feasibility of the employee fulfilling thosel functions remotely through a mutually agreed upon flexible or modified work schedule. c. Working Remotely During the Period of Self Quarantine
If an employee is under self-quarantine as indicated under CPL eligibility, but is asymptomatic, such employee will be required to work remotely, if deemed feasible.
d. Employees who are not eligible for COVID Paid Leave
If an employee does not meet the conditions set forth above for COVID Paid Leave and the employee requests a leave of absence, the employee will be required to follow University policy and/or the applicable Collective Negotiations Agreement to seek a leave of absence.
e. Use of Other Leave
All COVID Paid Leave requests that meet the eligibility criteria will be approved subject to submission of appropriate documentation. If the necessary documentation is not received, the employee will be required to charge paid leave time in accordance with University policy and/or the applicable collective bargaining agreement.
f. Probationary Employees
Approved COVID Paid Leave shall not count toward the completion of the probationary period for any qualified employee.
g. Essential Employees
Essential employees shall be entitled to the same paid COVID leave as non-essential employees.
h. Discipline
The University shall not use absences from work related to COVID to support any disciplinary action.
i. Application of statutory paid leave
Employees may be required to exhaust federal and state statutory paid leave while they are on paid COVID paid leave provided by the University. If state and federal paid statutory leave does not provide full income replacement, the University shall supplement the statutory paid leave so that employees are kept whole with respect to compensation.

6. Issues applicable to Instructional Faculty/Grads (full-time faculty, PTLs, TAs)

a. Workload Adjustments for Course Conversion and Course Delivery:
i. Faculty members who develop fully or partially remote courses will have access to IT assistance from the University and other necessary resources in preparing their courses.
ii. Faculty members who are required to convert a traditional course or section to a fully or partially remote course will be granted a workload modification in recognition of the time and effort required for course development work. A workload modification shall be set forth in writing between the faculty member and Department Chair. Faculty will be compensated for each unique course converted from in-person to remote instruction. The faculty member will choose one of the following options:
A future course release – timing to be determined with approval of the Chair in one of the following seven semesters
One year of sabbatical credit;
Payment of an amount to be negotiated between the University and the unions representing instructional faculty and grad workers.Any arrangements different from the options above must be agreed to between the instructor (faculty/grad) and the department chair or unit director.
b. Back-up Instructors
If an assigned faculty member is unavailable to teach a class, a faculty member who agrees to provide back-up instructional assistance shall be compensated as follows:
Part-time faculty will be compensated for one half course for delivery of 1-6 weeks of instruction, and one whole course for 7 or more weeks of course instruction.
Full-time faculty will be given the choice of either overload pay or a future course release - one half course release for delivery of 1-6 weeks of instruction and one whole course release for 7 or more weeks of course instruction.
c. Intellectual Property Protections
i. Faculty shall not be required to record video/audio lectures.
ii. Students shall be advised by the University that it is a violation of the code of conduct to share course material outside of class.
iii. Online course materials shall be available only to back-up instructors and to chairs/directors conducting class observations pursuant to contractually required evaluations of teaching performance.
iv. Faculty have the right to remove course material from course websites at the conclusion of the semester.
d. Course caps;
PTLs who teach remote classes with more students than the course cap for the previous year (2019-20, shall receive additional compensation in the amount of $300 per student over that cap.
f. Non-reappointments for state-funded NTT faculty members due to “lack of funding”
Non-reappointments of NTT faculty due to a “lack of funding” shall continue to apply to grant-funded faculty and shall not apply to state-funded positions.

7. Preservation of Bargaining Unit work and Access to New and Vacant Positions

a. Employees who are laid off or furloughed shall be offered the opportunity to fill vacancies for which they are qualified, including newly established contact tracer and other positions. If more than one employee is qualified to fill the vacant position, the position shall be filled in order of University-wide seniority.
b. New positions that are created and assigned responsibilities related to COVID shall be placed in the appropriate negotiations unit.
c. Employees may not be reassigned to a new negotiations unit without agreement by the current bargaining representative.

8. Vacation carryover

Employees shall be permitted to carry-over vacation days that they are unable to use due to the COVID crisis. Employees entitled to carry over vacation days include employees who are directed by a medical provider to remain out of the workplace during the COVID outbreak due to an underlying health condition (their own or that of a household member) or who are directed to stay home due to the unavailability of PPE or adequate fit testing.

9. WDEA Access

The University and the unions shall agree to procedures to ensure access to online orientations and access to University buildings and facilities. Union staff and leadership will have full access to any buildings in which bargaining unit members work. Access will be through the same procedures as are currently in use under existing collective bargaining agreements and University policies.

10. Parking

The University shall credit time not used since March 2020 to campus parking permits purchased by employees.

11. Health and safety committees

The unions and the University shall create health and safety committees in each building, comprised of with representation from the coalition unions, management, and non-represented staff. The committees shall monitor health and safety issues and make recommendations to address and remediate unsafe or unhealthy conditions related to the COVID pandemic.