Updates

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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.

PHOTOS: Our amazing rally at the Barnard gala

On Tuesday, May 3 we held a rally welcoming attendees to Barnard College’s annual gala and alerting them to the administration’s unproductive and confrontational tactics at the bargaining table. We were joined by Barnard and Columbia undergraduates, Columbia graduate students, members of UAW Local 2110 from across the city, and many more. We handed out hundreds of leaflets, had scores of conversations with gala attendees and passersby, were energized by the musicians of the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, and heard from our students and our colleagues about the pressing need to improve teaching and learning conditions at Barnard.

Bargaining Update – through 6th Session (+ RALLY REMINDER)

Our rally outside the college’s annual fundraising gala (TOMORROW: May 3, 5:30pm) is shaping up to be a lively, popular event. We have commitments from a large number of you, from undergraduate and graduate students at Barnard and Columbia, and from allies in the NYC labor community.

Gala invite
An update on contract negotiations: On Friday, April 29 the BCF-UAW Bargaining Committee met for the 6th time with the administration’s representatives. The tenor of negotiations has improved slightly since our first two meetings, particularly after our successful Contingent Faculty Awareness events on April 13. However, substantive progress on our proposals remains minimal. Below you’ll find an update on major contract provisions to which the administration has replied. We have not reached agreement on any of them and significant differences remain between our proposals (modeled on Barnard’s existing worker-friendly contracts) and theirs (with onerous language offering few to no protections).

The most important update, however, is that the administration still has not made any offers on wages and benefits. We asked again for them to move on this and were offered the following responses:
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Bargaining Committee member Georgette Fleischer spoke on our behalf:

“We’re teachers, we work with students, and we’re a little perplexed, we feel Barnard is supposed to be about teaching and learning. … So we’re asking you to think about the college’s priorities. We’re here to assert the fact that we are a priority. We have surveyed our members, and the economic proposals you have given us no response on–salary, and benefits like health insurance–are the proposals that are most important to our members, so we would like you to come back on May 19th with something concrete in terms of salary and benefits to put on the table. There is a discrepancy between Barnard saying that it values our teaching and the fact that it does not compensate us fairly.”


Here is where the administration stands on some other key contract provisions:

  • Grievance Procedure: they reject access to neutral arbitrators.
  • Appointments: they’ve offered absolutely no job protections (much less seniority protections).
  • Management Rights: they demand that they have sole discretion regarding teaching decisions, including “how” what we teach is taught.
  • Academic Freedom: their academic freedom proposal falls far short of AAUP standards and is instead focused on our “responsibilities.”
  • Professional Development: they’ve offered a professional development model that would cover the cost of about one book per faculty member.

We need to continue to urge the administration to bargain with us in good faith, and we hope you can come out tomorrow to help in this effort.

BCF-UAW On The Radio

Siobhan Burke and Sonam Singh, members of the BCF-UAW Bargaining Committee, sat down with WKCR 89.9FM NY, Columbia University’s non-commercial student-run radio station, to discuss our campaign for a first contract and the role of contingent faculty at Barnard College. Listen here!

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
To:

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,

Linda