What’s Going On

  • Student Loan Debt Consolidation Deadline June 30

    Your last chance to have previously ineligible payments on ANY federal loans count toward PSLF ends on June 30, 2024. You must consolidate FFEL Loans and Perkins loans before this deadline to maximize the number of qualifying payments. Complete the consolidation application using Summer or at Federal Student Aid before June 30, 2024.

    Select a Student Debt Clinic

    May 29, 2024, 7:00 PM-8:30 PM

    June 13, 2024, 7:00 PM-8:30 PM 

    June 24, 2024, 7:00 PM-8:30 PM 

    Register for a Student Debt Clinic

    Here’s why it is critical that you consolidate FFEL and Perkins Loans before June 30, 2024:

    The AFT settled a landmark court case in October 2021 that set in motion significant, but temporary, changes to the eligibility requirements for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Since that time, we have heard from hundreds of members who have had their entire loan balances wiped away thanks to our union’s efforts.

    If you have student debt and, like most AFT members, work for a public employer or nonprofit organization—regardless of whether you work in education, healthcare or another profession—you could have your entire debt balance forgiven, but YOU MUST CONSOLIDATE FFEL AND PERKINS LOANS before June 30, 2024, to benefit from the temporary PSLF waiver and income-driven repayment readjustment. 

    You do not have to have made 120 payments over 10 years to benefit from this temporary waiver right now. Even if you have only made some payments to qualify for PSLF, applying before the end of the year may move you significantly closer to achieving loan forgiveness because you may get additional credit for MORE payments AND for periods of deferment or forbearance that exceed 12 months consecutively or 36 months total. Don’t miss out. Consolidate before June 30, 2024, if you want to take advantage of the temporary PSLF waiver and income-driven repayment adjustment.

    More background information at https://www.aft.org/student-debt-clinics

  • Ask Governor Murphy To Veto Bad OPRA Bill

    Take Action to tell Gov. Murphy: Veto legislation that erodes Open Public Records Act (note: you will need to select a category to finalize the submission, but none of the recommended categories really fit the letter so just pick one).

    Last Monday, May 13, both the New Jersey State Senate and Assembly voted to send legislation to the Gov. Murphy to restrict public access to public information using the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). 

    From AFTNJ:  Among the provisions in S2930/A4045, as outlined by NJ Spotlight News’ Colleen O’Dea:

    • Requests would have to include the right amount of information; the bill provides that if a request includes more information than required and needs too much clarification or if it does not include all the information required, it can be denied.

    • Obtaining letters, emails, text messages and social media postings would become much more difficult, with a requestor required to identify the person or job title, subject and “reasonable” time frame

    • Special service charges imposed by agencies on requests they deem to involve extra time and effort would be considered “reasonable” and it would be up to the person making the request to prove otherwise if challenging any extra cost

    N.J. Senate President Nicholas P. Scutari said this legislation will lead to “a savings of taxpayer dollars.” But if these companion bills become law, the public will pay a steep price if they don’t have access to vital information on how our government, our elected officials and our agencies function.

    Send a letter to Gov. Murphy urging him to veto S2930/A4045

    Since time is of the essence, please also call the Governor’s office and make your objections known. 

    Call the Governor’s office at (609) 292-6000 and urge him to VETO the OPRA bill.

  • Complete The Seasonal Hybrid/Remote Work Survey

    Comments and identification will be used only with permission, but you must identify yourself to take the survey.

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  • Questions Your Boss May Be Considering In Approving Flexible Workplace Arrangements

    While we know it is the boss’ responsibility to make managerial decisions in the best interest of the university, understanding the specifics of managements’ charge could help you and your co-workers make the case that your job is suitable for Flexible Workplace Arrangements, either seasonally or permanently.

    Department heads are being asked to establish priorities, review existing dynamics, align expectations and follow-up regularly to implement successful Flexible Workplace Arrangements. Their instructions for the departments ( as detailed at FlexWork@RU Department Needs Assessment and Team Agreement (rutgers.edu) ) include the following and many other questions to consider:

    • What is the nature of the work (e.g., collaborative or individual)?
    • What are the specific hours of the day that the team needs to be available, either in person or virtually?
    • Which key events, such as weekly team meetings, do team members need to attend, either in person or virtually?
    • Which options would allow the team to deliver high performance and maximize flexibility?

    Further, UHR provides instructions for department heads to determine the feasibility of Flexible Workplace Arrangements for new or vacant positions using a Flexible Work Arrangement Feasibility Assessment Feasibility Assessment (rutgers.edu) acknowledging the changing nature of work where remote work is more prevalent including:

    • Will offering flexible work arrangements decrease turnover and enhance the retention of existing employees within the Department or Unit?
    • Will flexible work arrangements increase engagement, productivity, and/or employee well-being?
    • Will flexible work arrangements result in cost savings and/or reduce overtime costs?
    • Does the flexible work arrangement enhance space utilization?

    The University’s program guidelines also point to considerations of “Service Impact” (look under “Determining Eligibility” on bottom of page) when making the determination of what positions may be eligible for Flexible Work Arrangements

    1. Will the employee’s presence on-site/in the workplace impact the quality of services provided by this position to students, patients, or other relevant stakeholders?
    2. Will a flexible work arrangement provide for greater service through extended hours?
    3. How much regular, in-person interaction does the position require?
    4. How much of the work must be completed during regular business hours?
    5. Does the position provide services required to be performed on-site during emergencies to address the needs of the on-campus communities served?

    In making a request or initiating a discussion requesting Flexible Work Arrangements, whether seasonally or annually, keep in mind the overall criteria to justify the request. Arrangements can be reached based on the needs of the department, with the justification that the job responsibilities can be managed responsibly and efficiently remotely, or using compressed workweeks, while continuing to meet departmental needs.

    Loop in your local steward or building rep and forward any written responses denying a Flexable Workplace Arrangement to union@ura-aft.org.

  • Flexible Work Arrangements: Review Seasonal Definition In Contract 

    Our contract now codifies our flexible work arrangements process. That means our remote work arrangements are not tied to a UHR announcement at the end of August. All bargaining unit members are eligible to request flexible work arrangements.

    As Summer begins, you may consider modifying your flexible work arrangement since soon there will be fewer students on campus. Our contract now makes specific provision for Seasonal hybrid and flexwork arrangements: 

    Seasonal: Remote work arrangements may be modified in accordance with the seasonal business needs of the department for a period not to exceed three (3) months each fiscal year with the potential for yearly renewals.

    If you are making the request to modify your flexible work arrangement, please cc union@ura-aft.org in your request so we can monitor compliance.

    RelatedFlexible Work Arrangements Agreement: What Does It Mean?

  • Staff Compensation Program; Appeal or Addendum?

    URA contract’s Article 41 Salary Improvements and Appendix H governs when and how our annual evaluations are done. The evaluation should be based on the performance standards established by the department and any modifications and additions should have been communicated throughout the year. Members should have a meeting with their supervisor to review the appraisal before May 15. Members who are not completely satisfied with the appraisal have the right to write an addendum to be attached to the appraisal before going to file. Adding an addendum creates the paper trail that challenges a “does not meet standards” on one or more of the key duties in the appraisal with documentation and data. Members can also request an appeal of their review by using Appendix H in our contract if one of the following occurred:

    1. That program procedures were not followed; or
    2. That there was a demonstrable factual inconsistency in the employee’s evaluation; or
    3. That they were not evaluated according to the performance standards for their job.

    If you are interested in either of these processes, please reach out to union@ura-aft.org and we will provide assistance as needed.   

  • URA Staff Senators Elected

    Congratulations to members Siatta Davis and URA Building Representative Fadi Kayyal for winning election to the Rutgers University Senate. The Senate serves as the “principal advisory body to the president and on certain issues exercises legislative authority delegated to it by the Board of Governors.”

    In his campaign statement, Kayyal said, “As a Staff Senator, I am committed to advocating for the needs and concerns of our staff community, ensuring that our voices are heard, and our contributions are recognized since we have reached a point of critical mass here at Rutgers regarding institutional spending in various areas of the university. I am passionate about fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment where every staff member feels valued and empowered to thrive professionally.

    Davis said, “Do we embody shared governance when staff are not represented? A beloved community is a noble ideal, arguably, yet to be realized. I’m committed to contributing to this exemplar. I co-authored a resolution in the Senate that passed with overwhelming majority to support adding a seat for staff on the BoG. Incorporating staff representation on our governing boards enhances the governance structure and provides a channel for valuable perspectives of our staff.” 

    The next Senate meeting is Friday, April 26. Find the agenda and more about the University Senate for more information.

  • Convocations and Commencement

    Spring has sprung so that means that you have or soon will receive requests to volunteer or be “voluntold” to give your time to celebrate our students’ achievements during convocations and commencement. We support our students and their hard work to reach their milestone but our hard work deserves recognition as well.  

    Before you commit to participate outside your normal scheduled work hours, please familiarize yourself with contract gains that we negotiated that may be applicable for this season.  

    • Article 28- Overtime/Comp Time
    • Article 8 – Call Back Pay
    • Article 9 – Changes to work hours and work schedules
    • Article 23 – Meal Allowance
  • NJ Universal Healthcare Coalition

    URA has been a supporter of the NJ Universal Healthcare Coalition for years. With all the healthcare insurance changes and continuous increasing premiums for health insurance, Medicare for All could be one solution to a recurring issue that impacts all New Jerseyans.  

    We are looking for members who will commit to being the URA representative at the New Jersey Universal Healthcare Coalition.  

    If you are interested, please fill out this form >>

  • Tell Your NJ Legislator To Stand Up For Accountability and Transparency

    The NJ Legislature is fast-tracking a bill that would gut the state’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA), which our union uses to discover information that Rutgers tries to keep private.  Restricting OPRA requests and information from our union and the general public narrows what we all should have access to when we hold our employer and our government accountable, financially and operationally.

    Sign here >>