Faculty ratify new RWUFA contract

Board of Trustees will hold a ratification vote on the new contract next

Agreement. That is something the RWUFA (Roger Williams University Faculty Association) members have been working towards through two years of long negotiations. Now, as of Thursday March 2, the RWUFA membership accepted a Tentative Agreement (TA) for a new contract.

“It’s a relief,” said RWUFA President Renee Soto. “We’ve worked really hard. Negotiation was difficult.”

A large majority, 72% (117 votes cast), were YES, while 28% (46 votes) were NO. In contrast, for the TA that was rejected in October last year, just over 2/3 of faculty voted NO. The total number of votes cast was slightly higher in October than in March as well with 90% (174 votes) compared to 84% (163 votes).

Soto credited the ratification acceptance to the amount of work faculty members put in during negotiations.

“You’ve never seen harder workers in [RWU] faculty trying to do their best for one another on this contract,” said Soto. “From our side [RWUFA negotiating team] that was the most compelling piece for me was how hard our faculty leaders were working for our members.”

Like many others, Soto said faculty have been dealing with inflation and living without a pay increase. She said faculty gave a lot during the pandemic and throughout the negotiations professionally, mentally and financially.

In regards to the agreement that was accepted, Soto said she wishes there was more money for faculty because of the amount of work they put in, but through these negotiations, hopes RWUFA members involved can use what they learned for the next negotiations.

The solidarity faculty members showed was something Soto said she appreciated.

“When it came time to do work actions, our colleagues showed up and it really was a strong show of solidarity,” said Soto. “As the president of a local, it doesn’t get much better than that even if we’re not entirely thrilled with the contract.”

Looking ahead, the Board of Trustees has to make a ratification decision, but Soto said the RWUFA are anticipating their approval of the contract. Soto said she and RWUFA bargaining team head June Speakman will meet with Co-General Counsel Joe Sassi from the RWU Office of General Counsel next Thursday to sort out implementation. Soto said that includes figuring out details including how to get faculty professional development money, foundation releases, how to do application processes and more.