NEA Affiliates in Action
Contingent faculty teaching at two private colleges in New York City, the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) and Cooper Union (CU), voted this summer to join the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. The faculty members at both schools are accomplished artists and working professionals who perform outside the college as well as teach.
The 150 adjunct faculty who teach in the MSM precollege program work on year-to-year contracts and make about half the pay of the regular college faculty. “The precollege division has been treated as the low man on the totem poll,” says Adam Kent, a pianist and precollege faculty member.
Many of Cooper Union’s 210 adjuncts had not had a raise in up to 15 years. In addition to better salaries, the new union members seek job security, help with health insurance, and a stronger voice in college affairs. Full time faculty have been represented by the Cooper Union Federation of Teachers for 34 years.
Given Florida’s fiscal crisis, United Faculty of Florida (UFF) negotiators at Brevard Community College used this year’s contract talks,the first full-scale negotiations with the college’s new, forward-looking president James Drake, to revamp the collective bargaining agreement and shore up the contract’s language in important areas, such as tenure, shared governance, workload, and salary equity.
The result: a collaborative bargaining process that produced a shorter contract year for faculty and librarians (165 days from 178 for faculty; 13 fewer days for librarians); fewer mandatory on-campus hours (10 fewer per week); an increase in overload pay; strengthening and codifying in the contract of faculty rights, such as tenure and the role of faculty in shared governance.
UFF and the college agreed to reopen the contract for salary negotiations in the second and third year, when they hope the financial picture will be rosier. You can find details on the new contract at http://www.uff-brevard.org.
-Frustrated by months of deadlocked contract talks, members of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC/NYSUT), an affiliate of NEA and the American Federation of Teachers, held a one-hour walkout at the beginning of the workday on September 14 in front of the City University of New York Research Foundation’s (RF-CUNY) office.
After an hour of chanting and marching, the workers entered the building with PSC President Barbara Bowen to visit foundation president Richard Rothbard. Rothbard, who recently received a 44 percent raise, did not meet with the PSC members, who have been without a new contract since January. Chapter Chair Anthony Dixon said more than 90 percent of his 84 colleagues participated in the walkout. RF-CUNY workers are now preparing to take a strike vote.
-The Nebraska State College Education Association (NSCEA), with support from NEA, has launched a salary campaign in an effort to pressure the State College Board of Trustees and Chancellor Stan Carpenter to come up with an 11 percent salary increase awarded to faculty at three state colleges by a special master after contract negotiations deadlocked. The Nebraska Commission on Industrial Relations upheld the award in July, but the chancellor plans to appeal the decision to the Nebraska Court of Appeals.
The first step of the salary campaign was a press release highlighting the chancellor’s action, which resulted in a major news story critical of the chancellor. NSCEA plans to follow up with a letter writing campaign, including op-ed pieces in the state’s newspapers.
Higher education contract negotiations elsewhere in the state have been more productive. In spite of the national Great Recession, settlements for 2009-10 and 2010—11 include: 4.0 percent and 4.5 percent at Western Nebraska Community College, 3.5 percent and 3.5 percent at Mid-Plains Community College, 3.73 percent and 3.84 percent at Central Community College, and a 5.5 percent increase for 2009—10 at Southeast Community College. The University of Nebraska-Kearney settled for 2.9 percent and 2.5 percent over the two years.