Barnard administration offers nothing new on wages, benefits, or job security

In December, we met with the administration’s bargaining team six times: December 2, 9, 13, 14, 15, and 21. This brings us, so far, to 25 bargaining sessions since we began negotiations on February 19, 2016.

In these meetings we made significant progress on certain contract provisions, with the administration retreating from some of their anti-worker positions:

  • Union Security: The administration has accepted our language that ensures that all bargaining unit members contribute their fair share in union dues or agency fee equivalent so that our union will have the resources to protect our rights under the union contract.
  • Non-Discrimination: The administration has accepted our language that ensures that in the event one of our members is harassed or discriminated against, that individual would have the right to grieve and arbitrate the issue through a neutral third-party process. Troublingly, the administration still demands that members sign away legal recourse to access this process.

These gains are a direct result of our strong strike authorization vote (89% voting Yes). Thank you for investing BCF-UAW’s bargaining committee with that vote of confidence.

On three core areas, however, the administration has offered little to nothing new:

  • Wages: On December 15, we responded to the administration’s public complaints that we had not answered their August 2 wage offer, by countering with a new proposal. We offered a tiered wage scale, which would allow raised minimums to be implemented over a three-year period. The administration’s response was completely inadequate: it left their proposed minimums entirely unchanged (i.e., at levels at or below what most already make) and simply extended paltry 2% raises into a fourth and fifth year, thus setting unit members even further behind in the long run. We are reminded of their Jackson Lewis chief negotiator’s March 11 taunt: “who’s to say we’re going to propose any wage increases.”
  • Job Security: On December 9, we offered a significant modification to our proposal on Appointments and Assignments, one that would guarantee a modicum of job security to both full- and part-time members yet still be responsive to the planning needs of departments. But the administration continues to reject any commitment to continued employment for any member of the unit. In public statements, the Provost claims that to maintain academic standards chairs and directors need absolute discretion in staffing courses. Our response is that chairs and directors do not enjoy such absolute discretion with on-ladder faculty now, yet academic standards do not suffer. Further, chairs and directors do not set budgets, salaries, and contract terms; the Provost does. Indeed, the Provost’s argument for unfettered managerial “flexibility” is grounded in corporate values, not academic ones.
  • Benefits: The administration continues to reject paid parental leave and is proposing no benefits for part-time faculty, the only College employees who have no access to employer health insurance coverage.

Yesterday we met to consider immediate next steps. We will write again soon to announce future bargaining sessions (we are waiting on a response), information sessions for our members, and our thinking about setting a strike deadline.