Last Updated: April 13, 2021
Our members have ratified the agreement from our fiscal emergency negotiations by an overwhelming margin. In return for progress toward our demands of grad student funding extensions, job security for staff unions, PTL reappointment, and scheduling of our deferred raises, we agreed to a work-sharing arrangement, under which full-time faculty in our bargaining unit (not just union members) would accept a weekly half-day furlough for 10 weeks. There would be some exceptions, described in detail in the “Who Is Eligible?” section below. Most faculty would maintain their full income if they apply for unemployment, thanks to the federal unemployment supplement passed in President Biden’s COVID relief legislation.
Below are answers to the questions we’ve heard most often about work-sharing. We have updated this page with new information since the agreement was ratified and will continue to do so as work-sharing is implemented. Please email us at [email protected] if you have a question that isn’t taken up here.
Click on any of the questions below to see the answers.
What is work-sharing, and how would it work under the agreement we negotiated with management?
Under a work-sharing program, employees work reduced hours and are paid less by their employer proportionate to this furlough time, but the difference is made up through government unemployment benefits. Under New Jersey law, we can get unemployment insurance for 80 percent of our lost pay from furloughed time, up to a cap. The federal unemployment supplement of $300 a week would make up the difference for the large majority of our members.
Under the agreement, full-time faculty from the Rutgers AAUP-AFT bargaining unit will furlough for a half-day each week from the start of the program (currently set for the week of April 18) through June 26. By applying for unemployment, those earning up to $194,000 a year would be able to fully replace their income. In fact, those earning less than $100,000 (over a third of full-time faculty) would see a significant boost in their income.
Around 12 percent of full-time faculty make more than $194,000 a year, and the $300-a-week federal unemployment supplement won’t fully cover their loss of income from the half-day furloughs. Most of these faculty would lose a small amount of their weekly income during the weeks of work-sharing if they applied for unemployment. They will be sacrificing a part of their salary for two-and-a-half months so we could support lower-paid, more vulnerable workers and get a timetable for payment of all of our raises that would otherwise be canceled.
The university has an online Shared Work Furlough Gross Income Calculator. You can use the calculator to see what your paycheck will look like under work-sharing. For “Current Furloughed Days Per Week,” enter “0.5.”
Management can’t force us to furlough. So why did we accept them?
We are using our union’s power to fight for all Rutgers workers. We proposed to accept furloughs under a work-sharing arrangement if management agreed to conditions that protect workers who are more vulnerable than tenured faculty. We didn’t get everything we want from management, but we think we made significant progress in achieving our demands for grad student funding extensions, job security for our staff colleagues, and PTL reappointments. We are operating on the basis of the old labor movement slogan: An injury to one is an injury to all.
In addition, the ratified agreement includes a timetable for getting the raises that were canceled last summer when management declared a fiscal emergency. They will be paid on a deferred basis, but if we didn’t negotiate this agreement, including work-sharing, we would not get the raises without winning our arbitration case—and management would be able to declare another fiscal emergency and take our 2.5 percent raises due July 1 of this year, too.
Would the 10 percent missing from our paychecks because of furloughs really be made up by unemployment?
Yes, for all but the highest-paid full-time faculty who earn more than $194,000 a year. They will be sacrificing a small part of their salary to support their colleagues and ensure we get our raises.
Most of us with lower salaries would, in fact, come out ahead. The $300-a-week federal unemployment supplement is paid to everyone approved for state-level unemployment benefits, and the lost pay from a half-day furlough is less than that for the vast majority of members of our bargaining unit.
The university’s online Shared Work Furlough Gross Income Calculator shows what your paycheck will look like under work-sharing. For “Current Furloughed Days Per Week,” enter “0.5.”
Sen. Cory Booker and other members of Congress say this is exactly how they intended the supplemental payments to work when they were first enacted in last year’s CARES Act: use federal money to keep laid-off and furloughed workers whole.
What does it mean to furlough? Am I supposed to work less?
Under work-sharing, you will not be paid by Rutgers for one half-day of work a week, and you shouldn’t work during your designated half-days of furlough time (what half-day you will be furloughing will be confirmed by management before the program starts). Some of you may have experienced interactions with non-union staff and administrators, such as deans, who have been off their email or unable to schedule meetings on days when they were furloughed.
But our jobs aren’t built around clocking in and clocking out, and your class time won’t be reduced by 10 percent. Management will confirm your specific day of the week and time to furlough, but it will be up to you how you adjust your work routine during that time and outside of it. You are within your rights to work 10 percent less and decline meetings during your furlough time. But realistically, many of us will change little about our routines.
What day will I take my half-day furlough on?
Your day of the week and time to take a half-day furlough will have to be confirmed by management and submitted to the NJ Department of Labor. There may be some flexibility in which day you furlough before the program begins, but once the furlough time is confirmed, it can’t be changed—it will be the same each week.
When non-aligned (non-union) employees took partial furloughs in the fall, many of them fell on Fridays. We expect that a lot of us will be told to furlough on Friday afternoon, but that won’t work for faculty who teach at that time.
We’ll get you more information about this as soon as we can.
Work-Sharing and Unemployment Insurance
But I’ll have to apply for unemployment. Won’t that be a nightmare?
Our union will hold multiple meetings to walk members through this process, but we won’t sugarcoat this, and it will be up to you whether you apply or not (neither the university nor the union can apply for you).
Rutgers has a special process to handle unemployment applications, developed for non-aligned (non-union) employees who have been partially furloughed since last year. We’ve been told by some members of other unions that management’s system works efficiently and payments come quickly. You can see the process that non-aligned employees are being told to follow at this webpage. The instructions are precise but fairly clear. UHR will produce detailed instructions just for us, so don’t follow the instructions at that page—and do not try to apply for unemployment until UHR sends those instructions.
You only have to register for the unemployment insurance system once. You do not need to file or recertify every week, because you aren’t unemployed (work-sharing is a short-time compensation program administered through the unemployment insurance system, even though participants are clearly still employed). Once your information is in the system, you will receive your weekly payments without doing anything more, since Rutgers will have submitted participant information to the NJ Department of Labor.
We have also heard reports from Rutgers employees who have run into problems and delays with the system. Again, no sugarcoating: At best, applying for UI will be an inconvenience at a time when we’re all coping with increased workloads. At worst, it will be a time-consuming and frustrating mess.
One significant pitfall is that anyone who doesn’t have a New Jersey driver’s license will have to apply for unemployment by phone and speak to a live agent. This may mean long hold times while you try to get through to busy call centers. We are seeking assurances from management and state officials that an efficient system will be set up for our members to use. But we can’t guarantee that you won’t run into problems or delays.
No one wants to spend their time tangled up in bureaucracy and online forms, much less on the telephone with call centers. But our offer to participate in furloughs under work-sharing was the way we got movement on our priorities of funding extensions for grad workers, protecting the jobs of PTLs and staff, and getting our deferred raises paid. Applying for unemployment will be a burden, but we believe it is a sacrifice worth making to support our vulnerable colleagues.
If you choose not to apply for unemployment insurance and simply take a 10 percent pay cut for those 10 weeks, that choice is entirely yours to make.
Do I have to apply separately for the federal unemployment supplement?
No. Everyone who qualifies for state-level unemployment benefits—and because our work-sharing program will be sanctioned by the NJ Department of Labor, all of us will qualify—will automatically receive the $300-a-week federal unemployment booster.
I don’t live in New Jersey. Will this work for me?
Yes. The unemployment insurance system covers employees based on the location of their employer.
However, the process for filing a claim will be different if you don’t have a New Jersey driver’s license. You will have to apply by phone. We are seeking assurances from management and state officials that an efficient system will be set up for our members to use. But those living outside of New Jersey may run into long hold times.
No one wants to spend their time on the telephone with call centers. But our offer to participate in furloughs under work-sharing is the way we got funding extensions for grad workers, job security for PTLs and staff, and a schedule for paying our raises. We think the sacrifice is worth it.
Who Is Eligible for Work-Sharing?
Will TAs, GAs, and postdocs participate in the work-sharing program?
No, grad workers in our unit will not participate in furloughs and work-sharing. There was some confusion about this during negotiations, but the final agreement we ratified does not include TAs and GAs in the work-sharing program.
I’m working at Rutgers under a visa. Will I still have to furlough? Would that put my visa status in jeopardy?
Management has agreed that anyone holding non-immigrant (temporary) visas will be exempt from the work-sharing program. They did not grant this exception for employees who aren’t represented by any of the unions. Because of our negotiations, members of our bargaining unit will have the security of knowing that work-sharing will not jeopardize their visa status or future applications for citizenship.
My salary is fully funded by external grants. Will I be included in work-sharing?
No. Employees whose positions are fully funded through research grants or external funding sources are exempted from participating in the work-sharing program.
Management still has to submit the list of participants in work-sharing to the NJ Department of Labor. They are planning to send rosters of faculty to departments and programs, indicating who they think should be exempted. Departments would then consult with all faculty and make any necessary corrections for those who have a reason they should be exempted from work-sharing. Contact your department chair if you think you should be exempted because you are fully grant-funded—or just to confirm whether you will be participating or not.
I’m a faculty member in the Rutgers AAUP-AFT unit who works part time. Will I be eligible?
No, Rutgers will exclude all part-time faculty members from the work-sharing program.
I have a secondary appointment (co-ad, overload, grader, etc.) at Rutgers in addition to my full-time position. Am I eligible for the work-sharing program?
Full-time faculty who have secondary university appointments (such as co-adjutant or overload appointments) during any week in which the program is in effect won’t participate in work-sharing. This is an important protection that we have been able to win at the bargaining table.
There is an exception: if your only secondary appointment at Rutgers during the term of the program includes teaching in Summer Session during May or June or if you get a summer salary for externally funded research, you will participate in work-sharing from its inception (now estimated to be the week of April 18) through May 20 for those teaching Summer Session and May 28 for those doing externally funded research.
Management still has to submit the list of participants in work-sharing to the NJ Department of Labor. They are planning to send rosters of faculty to departments and programs, indicating who they think should be exempted. Departments would then consult with all faculty and make any necessary corrections for those who have a reason they should be exempted from work-sharing. Contact your department chair if you think you should be exempted because you have a secondary appointment—or just to confirm whether you will be participating or not.
I get additional pay over the summer for teaching a course during the Summer Session or doing grant-funded research. Will I be included in work-sharing?
Yes, but not all the way through June 26. Summer Session instruction or grant-funded research would jeopardize your eligibility for unemployment benefits under work-sharing. We negotiated an agreement under which, if your only secondary appointment at Rutgers during the term of the program includes teaching in Summer Session during May or June or if you will receive summer salary for externally funded research, you would participate in work-sharing from its inception date through the start of your summer session course/s or research.
Specifically, you would furlough when the work-sharing program begins in April, but you would stop your half-day furloughs on May 20 for those teaching Summer Session and May 28 for those doing externally funded research.
Management still has to submit the list of participants in work-sharing to the NJ Department of Labor. They are planning to send rosters of faculty to departments and programs, indicating who they think should be exempted. Departments would then consult with all faculty and make any necessary corrections for those who have a reason they should be exempted from work-sharing. If you’re teaching Summer Session during May or June, you should contact your department chair if you want to confirm that you will be participating, but only through the end of May.
But my appointment is for the academic year. Does that mean I’ll stop work-sharing when the academic year is finished?
No. You get paid year-round even if your contract is only for the academic year. The work-sharing program is based on those year-round paychecks. Unless you are excluded from the program (see the exceptions above), you would take a half-day furlough each week from the week of April 18 through June 26, and your biweekly paycheck from Rutgers would be reduced by 10 percent during that period. The vast majority of us could fully make up the lost income by filing for unemployment insurance.
The only faculty who would start in the work-sharing program but not go all the way through June 26 are those whose only secondary appointment at the university is teaching Summer Session during May or June or who get a summer salary for externally funded research during the summer. They would stop participating in work-sharing at the end of May.
What about faculty who suffered identity theft due to fraudulent unemployment claims? Won’t they be ruled ineligible for getting unemployment?
This is an issue that has affected a number of faculty and staff at Rutgers, especially in the libraries. We have met with management and state officials to make sure that anyone who suffered identity theft will have an expedited process to apply that clears them to receive unemployment. If we aren’t satisfied by the time work-sharing starts that the university and state have a clear process for this contingency, we will ask that you be taken out of the program.
What if I have another job outside Rutgers? Will I still qualify for unemployment under the work-sharing arrangement?
If you have another source of income that makes you ineligible for unemployment under the state’s rules, you will be excluded from work-sharing. We achieved a strong agreement from management on this so that no one will lose money because of a second job outside of Rutgers.
If you are furloughed under a work-sharing arrangement but are later declared ineligible for unemployment benefits by the NJ Department of Labor, management has agreed to remove you from the work-sharing program and reimburse you for wages and benefits lost during any furlough days taken.
Management still has to submit the list of participants in work-sharing to the NJ Department of Labor. They are planning to send rosters of faculty to departments and programs, indicating who they think should be exempted. Departments would then consult with all faculty and make any necessary corrections for those who have a reason they should be exempted from work-sharing. You should contact your department chair and tell them that you have secondary outside employment and need to be excluded.
I do freelance work. Does that kind of self-employment count as a second job outside Rutgers? Would I be excluded from work-sharing?
Yes, if your work definitely takes place during the April 18–June 26 period when work-sharing is in effect. Work of this kind is often more flexible, so it may be possible to schedule your self-employed work so it doesn’t coincide with work-sharing.
If you are worried about the state ruling you ineligible because you receive a 1099 at the end of the year, remember that getting a 1099 does not, in and of itself, show you were self-employed during the April 18–June 26 period of work-sharing. You would not be declared ineligible for unemployment simply because you get a 1099 at the end of the year—only if your self-employed work definitely takes place during the work-sharing program.
Management still has to submit the list of participants in work-sharing to the NJ Department of Labor. They are planning to send rosters of faculty to departments and programs, indicating who they think should be exempted. Departments would then consult with all faculty and make any necessary corrections for those who have a reason they should be exempted from work-sharing. If you are definitely going to have freelance work during the work-sharing program, you should contact your department chair and tell them that you need to be excluded.
I’m on sabbatical right now. Would I be in the work-sharing program?
No. Faculty on sabbatical will not participate in the work-sharing program.
If I’m on approved family leave or another type of paid leave of absence, will I participate in the work-sharing program?
No. Unit members on approved family and other paid leaves of absence are exempted from participating.
How will I know for sure that I’m excluded from work-sharing? Do I have to tell someone that I have a reason why I shouldn’t be included?
We have been in discussions with management about implementation of work-sharing, and this is our proposal that they agreed to: Management will send rosters of full-time faculty to departments and programs, with indications of who UHR thinks should be exempted. Departments will review and correct that information and also solicit information from each of us about whether we have, for example, outside employment that takes place during the work-sharing program period. Management will then use the department’s corrected lists to prepare the final roster of faculty who will participate in work-sharing, which they will send to the NJ Department of Labor.
So if you think you have an issue that should exempt you from work-sharing, be on the lookout for communications from your department. But you don’t have to wait for an email either; contact your department chair to explain your personal situation or to confirm whether or not you will be participating.
Will I make an individual decision about participating in work-sharing?
No. Now that the agreement is ratified, all members of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT bargaining unit will be subject to work-sharing furloughs, unless they are excluded for one of the reasons above. It is not up to individual unit members to decide whether to accept furloughs under work-sharing. But by the same token, the university cannot pick and choose how work-sharing is applied among employees. We are all in this together.
It will, however, be up to you whether you file for unemployment. You will have to go through the process of filing as an individual—neither the union nor the university can do this for you.
Are my health insurance and other benefits affected?
Work-sharing programs protect employer-provided benefits such as health insurance. Rutgers must still make its full contribution for employees’ health insurance. For most of us, the pay reduction will mean a proportional reduction in Rutgers’ contribution to our retirement savings, through the Alternative Benefit Plan. The reduction amounts to about $10 a week per $100,000 in annual salary. If you would like to adjust your employee contribution to the Alternative Benefit Plan, you can complete the form available through UHR.
Does work-sharing mean we will literally share work or job responsibilities?
No. The term “work-sharing” is sometimes confused with job-sharing—the idea that two or more workers share the same job or position, an entirely different concept. Work-sharing is the term used by legislators for programs that protect jobs through managed furloughs. What is being shared is not jobs or work responsibilities but who will pay for salaries. Under work-sharing, the employer and the government share the cost of salaries for furloughed employees.