Bargaining Update – 7th session

Last week, we met with the administration’s representatives for our seventh negotiating session, and the first since our rally outside Barnard’s gala at the Plaza Hotel. The administration finally made an economic offer, proposing the following:

  • $6000 minimum per class teaching for classes of 3 points and above
  • $2000 minimum per point for classes that are less than 3 points
  • $60K annual minimum for term and other faculty who do not teach on a per class basis
  • No guaranteed minimum rate for Lab Associates; instead, the administration would set pay rates unilaterally on a case by case basis
  • No increases in minimum rates over the life of the contract (the administration made no specific proposal on length of contract and said they were open on this)
  • The administration reserved the right to pay people above the minimum at its discretion
  • Faculty who are currently in titles that receive benefits (term and other special titles) would continue to do so although the administration would reserve the right to make changes or eliminate benefits at its discretion at any time
  • No benefits for faculty who do not currently receive benefits (vast majority of the unit)

The administration’s proposal, if accepted, would at best provide small increases for the lowest paid employees in the unit while memorializing the status quo for most. It would leave adjunct faculty with no benefits while giving the administration the discretion to cut benefits from the handful of faculty who currently receive them.

Perhaps worse, the administration made no change in its position on non-economic workplace rights and conditions. They continue to propose:

  • No provisions for any form of job security or assurance of reappointment
  • No just cause standard for discipline or discharge
  • Prohibitively restrictive language on union rights, including rejection of a standard agency shop clause, successors and assigns, past practice and non-discrimination rights
  • Onerous language on no strike/lockout, effect of legislative change, and management rights

We have several additional bargaining sessions set for the summer months, and we are committed to working hard to reach a fair compromise with the administration. It’s clear that the College feels some pressure to negotiate. During our lively protest at the Plaza, we passed out hundreds of fliers, informing donors, trustees, and other gala attendees about the administration’s intransigent position at the bargaining table. And at Barnard’s graduation, students supported us by wearing “United for a Fair Contract” buttons. (They also tweeted about it; see below.) Our voices are being heard.

It remains to be seen, though, if the pressure from these actions will translate into a contract that improves working conditions for everyone in our union. Without substantial progress in both economic and non-economic terms over the summer, we will need to escalate our campaign in the fall semester. We will be reaching out to faculty individually in the coming months for your feedback and will also be holding meetings over the summer for those who want to get involved.

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