The Coalition of Rutgers Unions R in This Together
April 6, 2020—The COVID-19 crisis reveals just how much the careers and lives of tens of thousands of Rutgers students, patients and workers are interconnected. The truth of labor’s credo, “An injury to one is an injury to all,” has rarely been so literal.
From the start of this emergency in early March 2020, Rutgers’ unions representing more than 20,000 employees have united to work with, and at times against, the central administration to shape life-saving protocols and guidelines to help keep everyone safe and enable essential services to continue. Now, we must begin to collectively assert the central financial needs and demands of Rutgers labor.
For many years, Rutgers’ own financial statements have reflected that it has been operating with significant reserves, nearly $800 million by its own account in April 2018. For many years, our unions have been told that a significant portion of these reserves is to be held for emergencies only, a “rainy day fund.” Today, it’s pouring. Management needs to tap into these reserves and our labor unions must be directly involved in collectively deciding how to allocate these resources to protect the people who make this university work, educate our students, and conduct groundbreaking research.
Like many of our students, our members are facing extraordinary life challenges due to this crisis. The absence of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Rutgers’ own health care workers several weeks into this pandemic recklessly endangers our members and community and is a health and financial priority. Additional stresses due to lack of job security and health care needs are obstacles to workers’ ability to operate the university and serve our students effectively. This crisis has revealed at Rutgers, just as it has throughout our society, that many of the lowest paid and most insecure workers are among the most crucial. Rutgers must take measures that will help all of its students and employees in this crisis, especially the most vulnerable, part-timers and those unable to work remotely. We’re all in this together and it’s time the Rutgers administration started acting like it.
Our Rutgers Coalition of Unions representing AAUP-AFT, URA-AFT, HPAE-AFT, PTLFC-AAUP-AFT, AAUP-BHSNJ, CIR-SEIU, AFSCME, CWA , Doctors Council SEIU, OPEIU, IUOE, and FOP demand:
- Secure urgently needed PPE for Rutgers employees
- No layoffs
- Settle all outstanding union contracts
- Immediate access to health care for all Rutgers workers, including part-timers
- Full transparency of Rutgers’ finances and crisis plans
- Labor union involvement in all job continuity and work reassignment decisions