In this update: 1) Work-sharing resources; 2) Progress for faculty who had to apply by phone; 3) Progress for fraud victims; 4) Problems creating a new account; 5) Mistaken furlough reductions; 6) Snail mail from NJDOL; 7) Emails from NJDOL; 8) Setting up direct deposit; and 9) Work-sharing loan program from the union.
We’re at the end of week two of work-sharing, and we’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel. We had major breakthroughs yesterday for dozens of victims of unemployment fraud and hundreds of faculty who had to apply by phone. Agents from the New Jersey Department of Labor (NJDOL) are calling them and getting them into the system (so if you’re in this situation, pick up the phone for unknown numbers today!).
Some of you are still facing frustrating problems, and we’re working with University Human Resources (UHR) to solve them (see below). But we can also acknowledge what we’ve accomplished as a union: thousands of you are participating in a work-sharing program that allowed us to make real progress on our shared goals, including an improved funding extension program for our grads, job security for our staff and PTL colleagues, and payment of our raises. Todd and our colleague Donna Murch talk about the example our work-sharing program sets in an extended interview in Jacobin; please read it and share it!
We want to thank you again for supporting this effort and our people-centered approach. It hasn’t been easy, but we are moving forward! Now, onto your questions.
1. Work-Sharing Resources
Here are some helpful resources for work-sharing participants:
- UHR’s Updated Unemployment Filing Instructions
- Our Union’s Annotated Unemployment Filing Instructions
- UHR’s Instructions for Checking Your Claim Status
- UHR’s List of Communications You May Receive from NJDOL
- Crucial Information for Faculty Who Applied for Unemployment by Phone
- Union Form to Report Problems with Applying
- Instructions for Selecting Direct Deposit
2. Progress for Out-of-State Faculty or NJ Residents without State ID Who Had to Apply by Phone
We’re grateful to the New Jersey Department of Labor (NJDOL) for improving a process they began on Wednesday: calling faculty from a list of work-sharing participants who had to apply by phone because they don’t have a New Jersey driver’s license or state ID. Yesterday, the agents knew much more about our work-sharing program and were able to get the information they need to confirm participation in the program. This wasn’t what we agreed to with NJDOL, but the system seems to be working.
We’re advising you to pick up the phone for these calls, answer the agent’s questions, and ignore any misstatements about whether you’re eligible or need to certify. These calls may come from unknown or blocked numbers (many NJDOL staff are working from home), so please pick up these calls today. You can ask the agent for the procedure to verify their identity. At the end of the conversation, most of us are told that our claim has been filed and to look for a mailing to our home address. For more information for those who haven’t talked to an agent, click here to read our message from yesterday (though we’re pleased to say the situation has improved since we wrote that!).
3. Progress for Victims of Unemployment Fraud
We heard yesterday that some of the dozens of work-sharing participants who are known victims of unemployment fraud got calls from NJDOL agents, who verified a couple pieces of information and got them into the unemployment system. Fraud victims have had this difficult problem looming over them for far too long, but NJDOL seems to be clearing it up.
Like for out-of-state faculty, please pick up calls today if they come from an unknown or blocked number. If it’s an agent from NJDOL, answer their questions—and you should be done!
4. Problems Creating a New Account
This is one of the knottiest problems of the work-sharing program: some of you who could apply online are still having problems completing the application because you can’t set up a new account. In some cases, this is a computer issue, so you should try again, using a different browser.
But that hasn’t worked for a lot of people. You need to get your information to UHR, so they can put your name and information on a list of people that NJDOL needs to clear up. You can email UHR at [email protected]. Give as much information as you can remember about the problems you encountered, including where in the process you were prevented from applying and what error message you saw (you might even put the main error message in the subject line).
We know a lot of you have already emailed UHR, but their inbox is even fuller than ours, so please be patient. If you’ve emailed a number of times and still haven’t gotten a response, email the union at [email protected], and we can try to make sure your case has been seen. Once UHR has your name on the list, NJDOL is going to need some time to go through each case. But we have to make sure your name is on the list first!
We are thankful for your patience. And remember: you won’t be penalized if it takes you longer to finish applying. Once you are approved, you will get all the payments for the full duration of the work-sharing program, retroactive to the start date last week.
5. Unexpected Furlough Reduction in Your Paycheck
Some of you who thought you weren’t a work-sharing participant found a “furlough reduction” in your paycheck this week. At the Q&A session yesterday, the representative from UHR asked anyone in that position to email UHR at [email protected] so they can check the roster and fix the problem. If you can check with colleagues in your department and send an email that identifies the problem for multiple people, that’s even better!
UHR is committed to either reimbursing you for lost pay from a mistaken reduction or helping you get into the unemployment system, where you will get all the payments for the duration of the work-sharing program, retroactive to the start date last week.
6. NJDOL Snail Mail You Can Ignore
A number of you have started getting the standard mailing from NJDOL to your home address after your claim is approved. This is good news—you will start receiving payments in the coming weeks. Some of the forms you get may have information that is confusing and even ominous, but you shouldn’t worry about these. No action is required. UHR has a detailed list of communications you might receive from NJDOL and whether any action is required of us.
Above all, if you receive any communication telling you to certify weekly for continued unemployment payments or to set up appointments to certify, ignore them. This does not apply to us. Once we are approved, we will receive our payments for the full duration of the program without any further contact. We are not unemployed, so we don’t have to certify weekly that we don’t have a job and are actively looking for work.
7. NJDOL Emails You Should NOT Ignore
Some of you received emails from NJDOL marked “E-adjudication” or indicating that there are “Unresolved Issues on your Claim” that ask you to complete a form. This is a routine email that indicates NJDOL thinks you answered a question incorrectly. You need to complete the form linked in the email and indicate if you answered a question inaccurately.
These “unresolved issues” are usually the result of people making a mistake with questions on the standard unemployment form that don’t make sense in our situation. These questions are meant for people who have lost employment, not people in a work-sharing program. If you keep this in mind, it will help you answer the questions correctly. Here are a few questions that we know faculty have had problems with:
- Are you able and willing to work full time? (please answer “yes”)
- Do you expect to be recalled by this employer? (please answer “no”)
- Are you receiving benefits from a pension or retirement fund (unless you are getting a pension from another institution, please answer “no”; some of you were mixed up because you are contributing to a retirement fund, but you are not receiving benefits from it).
Have the UHR instructions on filing for unemployment handy to help you answer the questions. Unfortunately, though, the follow-up forms from NJDOL ask for some of the same information from the original application, but with different wording. Here is some information you may need for these follow-up questionnaires:
- Employer address: Rutgers University NJ, c/o Corporate Cost Control, P.O. Box 1180, Londonderry, NH 03053
- Employer phone number: (800) 207-6926
- Last day physically worked with employer: 04/17/2021
- Date of separation from employer: 04/17/2021
- Your rate of pay: This is the gross earnings for the last 12 months that the UHR instructions tell you to gather from your myRutgers portal.
- Type of pay: Annual
- Reason for separation: Select “Other” and enter: “Hours reduced—COVID-19-related”
- Please explain why you were separated from your job: Hours reduced—COVID-19-related
8. Selecting Direct Deposit for Your Unemployment Payments
If you had to apply by phone because you don’t have a New Jersey state ID, you didn’t have a chance to designate direct deposit as the method for your unemployment payments. Click here to see the instructions for creating a four-digit PIN (different from the one you may have created when you first applied), creating a new account, and changing the payment method. Please note that you can only take certain steps in the instructions on certain days, depending on digits in your Social Security number—and you have to wait a day before taking other steps.
We have heard from some of you who had problems with the online instructions in step 2. However, the automated phone system seems to have worked for everyone we’ve heard from. So we recommend you skip “Step 2 for Online: Create a PIN” and jump down to “Step 2 for the Interactive Voice Response System: Create a PIN.”
9. The Union’s Work-Sharing Loan Program
We know that the 10 percent reduction in your paycheck today will be hard to deal with if the payments from unemployment are delayed. The union has set up a Workshare Loan Program for members who are suffering short-term financial problems. The loan program requires you fill out a simple Google form to start the process. Please email us at [email protected] if you would like access to the form.
The Loan Committee will review the form for approval, and if required, we will reach out to you for more information. The loan amount would be a paycheck completion sum to recover the 10 percent of your paycheck missing this week due to furloughs. Once approved, we’ll send over our loan agreement and rules, and we can work together on getting your funds to you as quickly as possible.
We have faced a number of obstacles and problems in this process, so we thank you again for your patience and persistence in dealing with the frustrations and uncertainty. Hopefully, you can enjoy the weekend! If you haven’t found all the information you need here, email us at [email protected].
Todd and Becky
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
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