By Sarah Siock
A recent survey revealed that over 80% of members in Rider’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) signed a pledge that supports a strike if “a fair” contract cannot be achieved through negotiations with the administration.
The results of the survey were emailed to union members on April 26 with the union’s negotiating team thanking members for their support. Earlier this month the negotiating team asked members to sign the pledge after the administration approached the AAUP with a one-year extension of the present agreement that did not include minimum requirements spelled out by the union.
The pledge says, “I do not want to strike but I will if we can not achieve a fair contract by negotiations alone.”
The AAUP negotiating team asked the administration for an agreement that included a substantial across-the-board salary increase, an improvement in retirement plans, an improvement in support for scholarship and protection against layoffs.
The administration offered a 1% salary increase that was below the rate of inflation, the ending of the tuition subsidy plan for study at institutions other than Rider, no improvement in retirement plans, no improvement in support for scholarship and no protection against layoffs.
AAUP Contract Administrator and Chief Grievance Officer Jeffrey Halpern, previously told The Rider News that the pledge is not a formal authorization to strike.
“We needed to gauge the support among our members for taking action if we cannot achieve a fair contract by talking alone,” said Halpern.
Rider’s current faculty employment agreement, which was ratified in June 2020, extended the contract until August 31, 2021. The agreement marked the seventh year in a row that faculty did not receive a cost-of-living raise.
“The faculty have seen their and their families’ economic security eroded over the last seven years and they are committed to reversing that trend,” said Halpern.
Halpern added that the results of the survey send a message to the administration, “That the membership is untied behind the negotiating team and are prepared, if necessary, to taking action up to and including a strike if we cannot achieve a fair contract by talking alone.”
The AAUP said a full contract negotiation will take place this summer if the administration does not include their minimum requirements in the agreement.
Associate Vice President for University Marketing and Communications Kristine Brown said, “As we have stated previously, the administration is confident that the parties can find common ground to come to a successful agreement on an extension to the collective bargaining agreement, whether that be prior to or as a result of summer bargaining. Although the circumstances of the pandemic and the resulting serious economic challenges that the pandemic has created have made this process more challenging than ever before, we believe that [while] working together with goodwill, we will find a mutually agreeable way forward as we have always done in the past.”