On March 29, 2023, the Resident Assistants (RAs) at RPI elected to affiliate with the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 153 (OPEIU Local 153) as their exclusive agent for collective bargaining. One of RPI’s key principles in bargaining with the RA Union is transparency. The purpose of this web page is to keep the Rensselaer community apprised of the status and progress of collective bargaining between RPI and the RA Union.
As of December 12, 2023
The RPI Administration responded to the RAs’ last proposal by agreeing to the RAs’ request for a base cash stipend of $800, beginning January 2024. Under RPI’s proposal, this cash stipend amount would continue through the remainder of the contract, which will expire in August 2026. The contract would be retroactive to August 2023; however, the cash stipend for the Fall semester of 2023 will be $600/RA. This means that RAs who served during the Fall 2023 semester will receive an additional lump some cash payment of $300 in addition to the $300 they received during the Fall Semester. The Lead RA position, which RPI expects to begin filling in August 2024, will receive $1,100/semester in base cash stipend. All RAs will have the option, beginning in Fall 2024, to receive the 12 On Demand meal plan at no cost to them, or opt for the 5 On Demand meal plan with an additional $800 cash stipend for the semester. RAs will have the choice of joining the union (OPEIU Local 153), and if they do, union dues will be deducted from their pay and remitted to the Union. RAs who choose not to join the union, however, will be required to pay a service fee to cover union services. That fee will be set by the union and will also be deducted from the RA pay. On December 16, the RAs voted to accept the contract.
As of December 4, 2023
In response to the RAs’ last proposal, and the discussion in the previous negotiation meeting about the RAs’ desire for some more flexibility in board options, the RPI Administration offered the following: 1) increase the cash stipend for all RAs to $600/semester, doubling the cash stipend that the RAs are currently receiving (the Lead RA position would receive $850/semester); 2) allow individual RAs the option to waive the 12 On Demand meal plan, and opt instead for a 5 On Demand meal plan and receive $800 in additional cash stipend. Thus, an RA who chooses the 5 On Demand plan during the semester would receive a total cash stipend of $1,400 (a Lead RA would receive $1,650). The RAs’ appreciated RPI’s flexibility on the meal plan, and accepted the meal plan waiver option, but the RAs counter-offered by requesting that the base cash stipend be increased to $800/semester ($1,000/semester for Lead RAs) and that it be increased again in August 2024 to $1,000/semester ($1,200 for Lead RAs). The RPI Administration took the counter-offer under advisement and the parties agreed to meet again on December 12.
As of November 16, 2023
The parties met on November 16 to continue the bargaining process. In the lead up to this meeting, the parties exchanged revised counterproposals. RPI continued to offer the no-cost single room; no-cost ’12 On Demand Meal Plan, and an increased cash stipend of $500/semester (including summer) for RAs, and $850/semester for Lead RAs. RPI’s offer also included the commitment on non-reduction of financial aid. The RAs rejected RPI’s offer, countering with a request to increase the cash stipend to $2900/semester for RAs, and $3200/semester for lead RAs, in the addition to room, dining and financial aid items. During the 3 1/2 hour meeting, the parties engaged in substantive discussions about their proposals. The discussions included comments by RAs about the relative value of cash versus other compensation, particularly the dining benefit. The parties also discussed the remaining open non-economic issues, which includes a request by the RAs for a “closed shop” meaning that all RAs would be required, as a condition of their position, to be a due-paying member of the union, OPEIU Local 153.
The parties did not reach final agreement, but RPI agreed to examine the issues that were discussed to determine if additional progress (i.e., a revised counteroffer) could be made by the next meeting, which the parties agreed to hold on December 5.
As of October 24, 2023
The parties met on October 24 to continue the bargaining process. A number of tentative agreements were confirmed. The parties’ focus turned to compensation. RPI had offered to include in the contract that compensation as previously implemented would continue through the term of the contract: No-cost Room; no-cost ’12 On Demand meal plan (which includes $350/semester in Flex Dollars), the latter to be implemented in full in August 2024; and $300 semester in cash stipend ($500 for Lead RAs).
In addition, RPI offered that an RA’s institutional (RPI-funded) Financial Aid package would not be reduced as a result of the RA compensation.
The RA Union countered with a request for all of the above, plus an increase in the cash stipend. Initially, the RAs presented a petition demanding $5,100/semester as a cash stipend. They revised that demand downward to $3,400/semester for RAs ($3,700 for Lead RAs).
The parties did not reach agreement or make further progress on compensation in the meeting, but agreed to meet or checkpoint again in mid-November 2023.