Our response to Barnard’s Provost

We, the members of the Barnard Contingent Faculty-UAW Local 2110 (BCF-UAW) Bargaining Committee, are writing in regards to the email you received from the provost earlier today. (The full text of the email is below.) Much of what was written was factually correct and we thank the provost for sharing the information. But there are a number of statements which necessitate a response.
Google search

  • “Jackson Lewis, a respected labor and employment firm” — We encourage everyone to perform their own research on Jackson Lewis. You may want to begin with information on this website. As Google will readily confirm (see image above), Jackson Lewis is the most notorious union busting law firm in the country. It is shameful that the administration has chosen to bring them to campus.
  • “the union also has professional negotiators bargaining on their behalf” — Our “professional negotiator” is not a Boston-based corporate lawyer, but rather Maida Rosenstein, a former member of the Columbia support staff and current President of UAW Local 2110, a union that has fought tirelessly over decades to repair gender- and race-based disparities in pay and treatment across Barnard and Columbia. We are proud to have her at the table with us. For more about Maida, please see this interview she recently did for N+1.
  • “The union’s initial economic demands […] are quite simply out of line with what contingent faculty are paid at comparable peer institutions.” — It is universally understood that current practice regarding contingent faculty, as the AAUP notes, “exploits these colleagues.” The situation must change and we encourage the Barnard administration to show real progressive leadership and work directly with us at the bargaining table in bringing about needed changes.
  • “Most recent negotiations at other universities have taken over a year to resolve” — This only happens when administrations, in consultation with union busting law firms, pursue obstructionist tactics to drive the union to a strike, such as happened at Northeastern University, whose administration also retained Jackson Lewis. We are confident that if the Barnard administration operates in good faith, we can negotiate a contract in time for the Fall 2016 semester.
  • “The contingent faculty union was formally certified on October 2, 2015, following an election in which 61% of eligible voters cast a vote” — There is a crucial number excluded here: over 91% of voting faculty voted in favor of the union. Read a brief history of our election.

If you would like to learn more about our negotiations, please don’t hesitate to contact any or all of us. We also encourage you to attend a rally we will hold outside the college’s annual gala on May 3 at 5:30pm outside the Plaza Hotel. Details on that event can be found here.

From: provost@barnard.edu
Date: Thu, Apr 28, 2016 at 11:40 AM
Subject: BCF-UAW Local 2110 Negotiations Update

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

As we move closer to the summer break, when many of us will be travelling and away from campus, I write with some facts and an update on the status of our negotiations with the Barnard Contingent Faculty-UAW Local 2110 (BCF-UAW).

The contingent faculty union was formally certified on October 2, 2015, following an election in which 61% of eligible voters cast a vote. The union’s membership is quite varied, but generally includes term faculty (full-time instructors teaching a minimum of 5 or 6 courses per academic year) and adjunct faculty (part-time instructors teaching less than a full load of courses). Tenured, tenure-eligible, and non-tenure-eligible faculty in the ranks of Professors of Professional Practice, Lecturers, and Associates, are not a part of the BCF-UAW.

After some back and forth, both parties agreed to a schedule of bargaining sessions, the first of which commenced on February 19, 2016. Since that time, there have been four additional meetings with a sixth meeting scheduled for this Friday, April 29th.

Representing the College at the bargaining table are staff from the Provost’s Office (Pat Denison, Associate Provost), Human Resources (Robin Beltzer, Senior HR Generalist for Academic Programs), and the General Counsel’s Office (Andrea Stagg, Deputy General Counsel). They are joined by Michael Bertoncini of Jackson Lewis, a respected labor and employment firm that has considerable experience in representing academic institutions in adjunct faculty negotiations. Although the union has been publicly critical of our use of Jackson Lewis, Barnard has long employed professional labor counsel during past union negotiations, and indeed, the union also has professional negotiators bargaining on their behalf. Senior staff meet regularly to discuss details and strategy concerning the contract negotiations, and an ad-hoc faculty advisory group has been meeting with me for debriefing and consultation.

The College clearly recognizes the mutual benefit of working closely with the union to reach contract resolution. We are firmly committed to bargaining in good faith and have dedicated the time and resources to ensure that we can reach an equitable first contract with the union. While we have made progress in negotiation — primarily around the non-economic terms that clarify the relationship between the newly created union, its faculty members, and the College (including policies that govern academic freedom, the creation of a labor management committee, and union rights) — we remain significantly apart from the union on most economic contract terms. The union’s initial economic demands (including those regarding salary, benefits and employment guarantees) are quite simply out of line with what contingent faculty are paid at comparable peer institutions, and substantively alter the compensation and hiring model for most adjunct and term faculty at Barnard.

While we are confident that we will reach an agreement with the union, it is important to recognize that initial contracts with contingent faculty unions have historically proven difficult to negotiate. Most recent negotiations at other universities have taken over a year to resolve. While each situation is unique, the reasons are clear — the issues are complex, the bargaining unit is heterogeneous, and existing contracts for other kinds of workers do not easily apply. And while Barnard has maintained a longstanding relationship with the UAW Local 2110 in its representation of full-time clerical workers, the issues facing contingent faculty members are vastly different.

The Barnard administration is deeply committed to a contract that fairly rewards the pedagogic commitment of our contingent faculty, while also maintaining our other ongoing commitments to Barnard’s students, full-time faculty, and staff. And while we anticipate that it may take some time, we are confident that with the good faith efforts of all involved we will be able to reach an amicable and honorable agreement.

I will update you over the summer months as necessary, and the latest information will always be available at https://barnard.edu/hr/bcf-uaw-negotiations. I wish you a wonderful, productive, and restful break.

With all best wishes,


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