NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — More than four months after Rutgers University failed to pay thousands of employees a week’s worth of wages, union leaders have continued to press officials for the money.
Juanita Howard, contract organizer for the union that represents the school’s intern, resident and fellow physicians, implored Rutgers leaders at last week’s Board of Governors meeting to make good on the backpay.
“It’s been over four months, and we have not heard anything,” Howard said. “We really just want to have these residents and these employees paid.”
Four unions have filed federal complaints against Rutgers, alleging that the school failed to pay more than $500,000 in wages last October after moving thousands of workers to a new payroll system. The affected employees worked for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School before a 2012 state law brought both institutions under the Rutgers umbrella.
Following the merger, Rutgers moved those employees to a new payroll system. Because the schools’ pay periods were not aligned, that caused more than $500,000 in wages, including overtime, to go unpaid, according to the complaints.
They work at Robert Wood Johnson in New Brunswick but are employees of Rutgers.
Responding to Howard, Rutgers President Robert Barchi vowed to pay staffers for the unpaid workweek.
“There’s no question that Rutgers intends to see that all the employees are appropriately reimbursed,” he said. “It’s a question of how the timing works out.”
Howard represents rising medical professionals, most of whom are working for Rutgers only temporarily and will soon move elsewhere. She said she worries how that could affect them receiving the backpay.
Barchi assured the union representative that individuals who leave Rutgers will be paid.
“You have my guarantee as the president that that’s the case,” he said.
Howard’s union requested that the money be paid to employees by the end of 2016, a proposal that didn’t come to fruition. Rutgers has floated several potential solutions to other unions, but none has been put into action yet.
Union representatives and affected employees have been vocal on the issue. They have reached out to media and taken to meetings, like early this month when Howard’s union spoke out during a gathering of the New Brunswick City Council.
Rutgers officials have said they are in negotiations with union representatives. Howard, however, said her group has been largely left out of those conversations.