Teachers’ union ratifies new contract despite concerns – The Rider News

By Shaun Chornobroff

Despite concerns expressed at a Sept. 20 meeting at the Yvonne Theater, Rider’s faculty union moved closer to resolving a long-term contract dispute, voting to ratify a tentative contract agreement with the administration. which expires in 2027.

Rider’s chapter of the American Association of University Teachers (AAUP) ratified the five-year contract agreed to the previous week, despite some members openly questioning some terms of the agreement as well as the direction of the university and its leaders. at the Tuesday afternoon meeting.

“While some people weren’t extremely happy with [the deal]they recognized it was the best deal they could get without engaging in a strike,” union president David Dewberry said in a phone interview with The Rider News after the meeting.

Even with ratification, the union’s longstanding skepticism of Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo and his administration remains intact. Union members are not only still questioning the university’s commitment to providing quality faculty and courses, but also their job security.

After being protected from layoffs under two one-year contract extensions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the most recent agreement lacks this provision, potentially leaving faculty members vulnerable to loss. of their job.

“That is now gone, so the university can make redundancies if they see fit. Of course, we would fight that,” Dewberry said.

All teachers who are terminated should be notified by October 30. Dewberry said he would be “not surprised” if the administration proceeded with any layoffs, although if so, the union could take the university to arbitration for a third party. party to decide whether the university has grounds to terminate that person.

Rider Associate Vice President for University Marketing and Communications Kristine Brown said no decision has been made on faculty layoffs due to the school’s finalization of details regarding previously eliminated programs. or archived.

The layoff scare comes as the university tries to quickly reduce a debt that stood at $7 million when Dell’Omo first arrived at the university in 2015, but has reached $20 million following the pandemic.

After a summer of tense negotiations that led to union protests and demonstrations as well as the threat of a faculty strike, all that remains for the contract to become official is for Rider’s board to approve the contract. contract.

“We were always going to wait for the union to ratify a contract before scheduling a meeting with the board. Now that this has happened today, we will schedule a meeting with the board of trustees, and that will be in the next week,” said Rider Associate Vice President for University Marketing and Communications, Kristine Brown, to The Rider News after the deal.

The union has passed two votes of no confidence since Dell’Omo took over in 2015 and has openly called for the university’s president to be removed from office. Rider’s continued financial difficulties, the elimination of 25 university programs in June, as well as the fact that professors receive no raises for the next two years and only minor increases thereafter have only amplified the teacher mistrust of Dell’Omo’s commitment to providing top-notch educators. caliber for the student body.

According to an AAUP contract summary that was shared with The Rider News.

“As our community has heard repeatedly, we need to take short-term action for the long-term success of the university as a whole,” Brown said. “Our faculty salaries remain very competitive, and we have seen no indication that the quality of teaching has been diminished by anything we have collectively bargained for with the AAUP.”

However, Dewberry pointed out that the deal’s wage increases are well below the escalating cost of living.

“Who’s going to want to come and work somewhere where we haven’t gotten a raise with this contract in nine out of 10 years,” Dewberry said. “…I think some people are concerned that the administration wants someone in the class and doesn’t care if they’re the best people we can get.”

Earnest L. Veasey