By Paul Mullin
Representatives of the administration and the Rider faculty union reached a tentative four-year agreement after a last-ditch negotiating session on Monday afternoon.
Although union officials said that many of the changes to the contract were small and technical, among the more notable results were a lack of significant changes to academic governance and a salary increase of 4 percent for the first year.
“We ended up with a fair and reasonable agreement,” said union Chief Negotiator Dr. Jeff Halpern. “What is important is the outcome, and I think both sides got something that reflects the best interests of the University as a whole, and therefore it is a good agreement.”
The administration asked the Rider chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) for one last try at a settlement after a meeting on Sunday lasted until 10:15 p.m. and failed to yield results.
“On our team, it wasn’t optimistic,” said Halpern. “[As of Sunday night] we hadn’t bridged the gap, and so we had notified the University that we were not going to extend the agreement.”
During the meeting on Monday, Halpern said, there was finally the “give and take” that the union had been looking for since negotiations began in June. With that, he said, the two sides were able to come to an agreement.
The process of ratification will begin this weekend when summaries of the new contract are sent to the AAUP membership and the University Board of Trustees for ratification, after which the two sides will meet and “work on actual contract language,” Halpern said.
“That’s a fairly long and tedious process, but I do not expect any problems with it,” Halpern said. “You want the language to be clear, you want it to reflect what the parties have agreed upon.”
Halpern said he expected the translation of the material to take “a lot of January” to be completed, but for the process to be relatively painless.
“I would be quite shocked if there are any glitches once we ratify,” Halpern said. “I think both parties were represented well, we were careful, we took careful notes, and this is just a technical process.”
Once the ratification takes place, Halpern said, retroactive pay will be in effect. The new contract will have a start date of Sept. 1, 2007, and the 4 percent raise that has been negotiated in the new contract will be retroactively paid to the faculty.
Also among the highlights of the agreement, said Halpern, is an increase in the percentage of classes that must be taught by full-time faculty within the normal course load. The previous number was 60 percent, and it now stands at 65 percent.