Rider faculty union ratifies contract extension

By Sarah Siock

After summer labor negotiations with the administration, Rider’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) voted on Sept. 2 to ratify a one-year extension of the present contract agreement that included a 3% raise for its members.

The ratification is the second extension of the agreement that was initially in place from 2017 through 2020. The previous extension was ratified in June 2020 and extended the contract until Aug. 31, 2021. The prior agreement marked the seventh year in a row that faculty did not receive a cost-of-living raise.

However, the current extension, valid through Aug. 31, 2022, includes new provisions the AAUP presented as contract requirements to the administration. According to AAUP Chief Negotiator Jeffrey Halpern, the union achieved in receiving increases in base salary, support for research and scholarship and protection against layoffs.

All members of the AAUP bargaining unit, which includes full-time and part- time faculty, coaches and trainers, will receive an average of 3% in salary increase. The increase to base salaries will happen this academic year in two steps, one beginning on Sept. 1 in the form of $1,600 and the second on Feb. 1 at $1,400.

The previous extension of the agreement came at a time where universities across the country were cutting costs due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Associate Vice President of University Marketing and Communications Kristine Brown said, “The administration is pleased to have reached agreement with the AAUP leadership on a one-year extension of the collective bargaining agreement and are grateful that the contract was recently ratified by its members. We believe it is advantageous to all parties to not have a long-term contract at this time so that we could have a better understanding of important university issues impacted by the pandemic and other environmental changes taking place in higher education.”

Halpern, however, advised against a third extension of the agreement next year.

“Like all agreements, the one between the University and the AAUP needs review and updating on some regular basis. There is much work to be done, and I would not recommend that we do a one-year extension again,” Halpern wrote in an email to The Rider News.

Brown said that the administration is also open to negotiating a longer-term contract once the current agreement is no longer valid.

Brown said, “As we go forward, we can work toward a new multi-year contract that is both fair and in the best interest of the faculty, our students and the university as a whole. We recognize the importance our talented faculty play in our overall mission and we look forward to starting the new academic year working together.”

Halpern also commented on the lack of salary increases in recent years and how it will influence next year’s negotiations.

“We achieved an acceptable increase. Because of the failure to gain increases over the previous seven years, there is still a lot of lost ground that must be made up. That still needs to be done along with other improvements in the AAUP Agreement with the University. We will be back at the negotiating table next summer,” Halpern said.

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