By Shaun Chornobroff
Longstanding negotiations between Rider’s administration and the faculty union came one step closer to an official end on Sept. 26 with Rider’s board of trustees voting to approve a five-year contract.
The board of trustees’ approval is a crucial step in putting the contract, which was agreed to with Rider’s Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) weeks earlier, official.
“Our continued goal throughout this process was to reach a fair balance between the interests of the administration and the bargaining unit members. The short and long-term changes to our faculty contract will help the university strengthen its financial health while still providing faculty, coaches, librarians and athletic trainers with competitive terms of employment,” Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo said in a university-wide email announcing the agreement.
The deal further eliminates any prospect of a strike, something that students were alerted of being a possibility before the sides came to an agreement on Sept. 11.
“Given recent university-wide communications and conversations [Student Government Association] (SGA) has had between administration and faculty, we are very pleased that both parties have come to an agreement without interrupting the start of the fall semester,” SGA President and senior political science major Andrew Bernstein said in a statement to The Rider News. “Looking ahead to the future, we’re hopeful that the resulting contract will retain, and even attract, high quality faculty- because what these negotiations have shown is that providing for the academic enrichment of students is, and should be, the unifying force across a college campus.”
After a pair of one-year extensions during the pandemic, the contract is the first multi-year agreement between the union and the university since 2017. Despite the agreement, the union remains far from satisfied.
“A five-year contract will give some relief from the constant process of negotiating, but it’s hard to find any relief from a ratified agreement when it is far from what our people wanted. And some of our colleagues will receive layoff notices very soon. It’s especially tough because they are facing layoffs through no fault of their own,” said AAUP President David Dewberry.
Rider’s Associate Vice President for University Marketing and Communiations Kristine Brown said no decisions have been made regarding layoffs at this time.
In his email announcement, Dell’Omo made it clear that the agreement is only the first step in shaping Rider into the institution he envisions.
“We still have much work to do to strengthen the University’s finances, by growing enrollment and auxiliary revenue and undertaking continued fundraising efforts,” Dell’Omo wrote. “I hope that our entire community can continue working together toward these important goals.”