In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the AFT Local 1904 has continued to advocate on your behalf in order to ensure that our Contract and your rights as Montclair State University employees are upheld. Our overriding objectives are to be sure that our members are safe, that your working conditions are safe, and that no one loses even an hour of pay because of the pandemic or COVID-19 related issues.
During the past week, we have been working tirelessly with the Administration to arrive at a set of policies and guidelines for employees under the present set of circumstances. It has been a "moving target," beginning with the Governor's emergency declaration on Monday (that ignored non-civil-service State Employees), then with several Deans announcing that Professional Staff vacations were being cancelled, which turned out not to be the case (as only VPs, Deans, and AVPs had to cancel vacations). We waited for communications from the administration correcting the record, which never came.
Rutgers announced reasonable work rules in an email to their employees. We have been pressing our administration to implement similar guidelines. We have only met with limited success to this point, but Friday's late afternoon announcement by the Administration, Coronavirus: Employee FAQs, sent to employees partially due to our efforts, does go somewhat towards what we will continue to advocate for you. Among other matters, this document states that, during the current precautionary period:
• Employees may work at home if they so choose and sets the procedure through Workday to make that request, which will be active as of this Monday, March 16th.
• No Professional Staff vacations are being cancelled.
Additionally, we now have assurances that any employe whose children's schools are closed (or operating remotely), and are unable to work from home, are permitted to apply sick time toward their absence. We are also working with Council and AFTNJ to encourage the Governor to press our administration to do the right thing.
It is the position of the Local that no employee should lose even one hour's pay for reasons associated with the current emergency. For employees who may not have sufficient sick time to cover their absence: We will work, on an individual basis, to encourage the university to do the right thing, although we cannot make a guarantee regarding the outcome. And it is clear that all of our negotiated medical and prescription plans fully cover testing and related COVID-19 medical issues.
We will continue to insist upon clarity and transparency from the University throughout this emergency--including that they provide us with information on where on campus there are confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses, and their plans for mitigation. Our President, Rich Wolfson, has consistently pointed out the the administration that their messaging is insufficient and must demonstrate better leadership of and concern for the employees in our bargaining unit.
Our Local leadership appreciates the fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, and numerous other feelings the members of our community are experiencing at this challenging time of chaos and uncertainty. It is a time when the integrity of our University's guidance and leadership is essential.
We will remain in touch with you, providing updates as we become clear on the University's various plans of action that impact the stakeholders of our community.
Be safe, be well, and let's all please take care of one another.
AFT Local 1904