We wanted to provide you with an update on our progress with negotiations with the administration for a new contract.
As you know, the administration has requested a one year extension to the current agreement. We indicated we would be amenable to such an extension, but it must include specific increases in pay and benefits as well as protection from layoffs.
Since then, the administration made an offer, but their offer fails to meet our minimum requirements. They offer a meager raise that is well below the rate of inflation and no protection against lay-offs. They insist their position is necessary because of various economic uncertainties, and most recently they point to current enrollment deposits for freshmen as an indication of those uncertainties. We believe that while fall deposit numbers are notably lower than in previous years, external factors (the pandemic, the requirement for students to be vaccinated) are no doubt a factor in this fluctuation.
Over the past 7 years, faculty have sacrificed much to help move the institution forward. Lack of cost of living raises, reductions in retirement contributions, and faculty retirements have reduced Rider’s operational expenditures five million dollars per year, exclusive of the 13 retirements this year. Additionally, cumulative COVID relief funds to be distributed to Rider university and its students will add ten to twelve million to Rider’s coffers in the next fiscal year, a fact which has been notably absent from administration budget projections presented to the University community.
For these reasons, we do not believe that the administration’s trope of hard financial times is a reason to capitulate. We believe that Rider has the resources to provide fair pay and benefits for faculty who have sacrificed over the past seven years.
An agreement with faculty could provide the institution with stability during a difficult time and instead of an acrimonious and unstable fall semester with the potential of a faculty strike, a period of cooperation could be established based on a shared commitment to the institution.
What happens next?
The administration can either engage in a PR campaign about their so-called troubled financial times or they can provide a proposal that makes a meaningful contribution to faculty pay, benefits, and protections from lay off. That decision is up to them.
If the administration fails to offer a reasonable proposal for a one year extension, we will start negotiations with the administration for a 3 or 5 year agreement. Those negotiations have not started as of yet. While the administration has provided data about deposits, they have not responded to any of our information requests for financial and enrollment information.
All of us should recognize that our labor, and cooperation in the fall is our leverage in this negotiation and that that leverage only exists through solidarity. While our teaching and research are varied, and some of us are full time and some part-time, there is one thread which is consistent. We want fair pay and benefits, not a continued degradation of our compensation.
Our message is simple: it is now time for the administration to reward and recognize those who are the foundation, to invest in the core income earning component of the institution, the key stakeholders who perform the academic mission: the faculty. And we can achieve this. Our fundamental strength is our solidarity. Whether this is your first negotiation or just one of many, we must remain committed to our cause.
AAUP Negotiating Team,
Jeff Halpern, Chief Negotiator