Ithaca Faculty and Students Call on President Rochon to Remain Neutral and Recognize Their Democratic Majority
STORY BY: Zeke Perkins
Ithaca, New York — Full-time contingent faculty at Ithaca College met with their administration today to ask that they be recognized as a collective bargaining unit with SEIU Local 200United. Their part-time contingent colleagues formed a union with SEIU this past May and are currently negotiating their first contract. An overwhelming majority of full-time contingent faculty teaching on limited-term contracts, generally for the duration of one year, have signed cards expressing their support to join their part-time colleagues in SEIU.
Shoshe Cole, Assistant Professor in Physics and Astronomy at Ithaca College and a member of the union organizing committee, said, “We are excited to move forward in our effort to join our part-time colleagues at IC in the union and have the right to negotiate as one group of contingent faculty. We had a great meeting today with our administration. We fully expect them to uphold the values of Ithaca College by recognizing our democratic will to form a union and join our part-time colleagues to negotiate one contract as one contingent faculty.”
Full-time contingent faculty at Ithaca College currently teach on a limited-term basis without any assurance of reassignment and with no path for promotion. Like their part-time colleagues, they lack a voice in shared governance and work without job security.
Jon Hilton, an instructor in Media Arts and Sciences and member of the union organizing committee added, “We are looking to join the part-timers at the bargaining table and improve things like faculty continuity and support for students. I’ve been here over twenty years, sometimes part-time and mostly on one-year appointments. The only way we are going to make things better for ourselves, ours students and Ithaca College is by working together.”
Students and tenure-track faculty were on hand to demonstrate their support, as well. Dominick Recckio, President of the IC Student Government Association, stated, “a well rounded and meaningful IC education requires faculty continuity. When 40 percent of our faculty are limited-term, they have little job security, and no foreseeable options for professional development, students suffer. If Ithaca College is going to succeed moving forward with the many challenges staring us in the face, it is my opinion that their organizing is necessary. Having faculty members feel accepted, challenged, and valued is key in creating the environment that we have partly lost over the past eight years under President Rochon. I expect the decision makers to do the right thing, and to recognize the union. It would be very disappointing for students to see the decision makers divide our community any more than they already have.”
Chip Gagnon, Professor of Politics, added, “As a tenured professor, I support my contingent colleagues 100 percent in their efforts to organize. It’s clear that contingent faculty need more stability in their positions to serve our students as best they can.”
The organizing effort comes on the heels of victories for contingent faculty throughout the region, including Wells College in Central New York, in the Capital District at The College of Saint Rose, Schenectady County Community College, and Siena College, and victories at Burlington, Saint Michael’s, and Champlain Colleges, all in Burlington, Vermont. Most recently, on Wednesday, full-time contingent faculty at Boston University won their union following the success of their part-time colleagues.