When students headed to morning classes on the first day of Spring Semester today, they walked by CCRI Faculty Association (CCRIFA) members marching and chanting across all four campuses on an informational picket line to urge community college administrators to get back to the table and bargain a fair contract. Members were joined by community supporters and elected officials at a rally on the Knight Campus in Warwick.
“The faculty at CCRI are dedicated to educating everyone and anyone who walks through our doors. We care about our students and want to empower them in their academic and technical careers,” said Matthew Rieger, Professor and Chair of the Physics and Engineering department. “As professional educators we bring value and expertise to campus every day and we are asking for the administration to recognize our work with a fair contract and a share in governance beyond an advisory role.”
“CCRIFA has been working without a new contract since June of 2022. We are currently engaged in mediation, but management has not responded to our latest proposal or brought any proposals of their own to resolve the dispute, and no negotiating dates are currently scheduled,” said Mazin Adam, CCRIFA Local President and Professor of Art. “Our confidence in senior leadership is eroding.”
A local union affiliated with the National Education Association Rhode Island, CCRIFA represents about 300 full-time faculty that teach students everything from English as a second language to job skills in renewable energy, dental hygiene, and nursing. The community college environment is unique with smaller class sizes and an emphasis on services and supports to assist students in need.
“I know the needs of my students because I was a student myself,” said Cynthia Johnson, Associate Professor in the dental health program. “I’ve been a part of the fabric of CCRI almost my whole adult life – first as a student, then as a mentor, adjunct faculty, and now associate professor. My colleagues, like me, are deeply committed to our students; helping them to reach their goals and achievements. If they have struggles, we are there getting them the academic or financial resources they need to be a successful college student.
“I want the administration to know that treating CCRI faculty with dignity and respect means sitting across the table from us and hearing our needs and listening to how we are advocating for our students,” Johnson said. “We are professionals educating the future of Rhode Island, we deserve fair wages and a respectful workplace.”