Rutgers employee, recent grad offered new job amid allegations she was fired for union work

By Hannan Adely, staff writer, The Record

A Rutgers University employee who claimed she lost her job because of her union organizing efforts on campus has been offered a new position at the school.

Christine O’Donnell will start work June 2 as an administrative assistant in the Rutgers Cooperative Extension and will make $31,675 a year.

She previously worked as a community assistant, educating low-income families about nutrition, and made $24,000 a year. O’Donnell suspected she was cut because she took a three-month leave to work for her union, which is allowed under her contract.

Rutgers University officials said they do not comment on personnel matters.

O’Connell lost her job 10 days before graduating from the university and just two days after a long write-up in an online university publication that noted her accomplishments as an employee and as a student getting a degree alongside her son. The article noted that O’Connell, a mother of five, left college years ago to get married and raise a family before returning to school.

Union members leafleted at her graduation and signed a petition calling for her reinstatement.

O’Connell said she was offered the job Thursday, the same day she notified the school that she was filing a grievance. Her job was also a source of medical benefits and tuition remission for her family, she said. “I’m very thankful to have a job,” she said.

Gregory Rusciano, director of the Union of Rutgers Administrators, said he was also glad to hear of her re-employment.

“We’re glad Rutgers took a good, proactive approach to resolve the case,” he said. “But it shouldn’t have come to this point.”