On Tuesday, April 4th, we met with the college administration and their attorney for our 15th bargaining session since September 2015. Thank you to all the members who attended the session and provided instant feedback on the various items under discussion.
While we are pleased with the significant gains we have made thus far, we are increasingly frustrated with the administration’s failure to schedule meetings promptly. We have one more session scheduled for the end of the month, April 27th at 10:30AM, but despite a request for more dates before then, the college provided none and instead continues to draw out negotiations nearly two years after we first won our union with an overwhelming majority.
While the college has shifted on some language aimed at restricting union activities, the administration continues to insist on a No Strike/No Lockout clause that would limit our speech rights and restrict academic freedom. Our proposal is identical to the one adopted by the College of Saint Rose Adjunct Faculty Union, which has been working since they ratified their contract early last year. The college administration also continues to insist on two separate contracts for adjunct and visiting faculty, which potentially only benefits the attorney’s interest and the college’s interest of creating division among the contingent faculty it relies on.
This was on full display during discussions around our demand for professional development funds for both adjunct and visiting faculty in all three schools, a benefit previously only offered to visiting faculty in the School of Liberal Arts. The administration proposed offering $30,000 annually but stated that if visiting faculty were to receive any more funding, it would have to come out of those funds reserved for adjunct faculty. We reject this effort to pit adjunct and visiting faculty against each other. It underlines why we continue to insist on one contract that acknowledges our collective contribution to the college. The professional development of faculty, regardless of status, is net benefit to the college and its students.
On visiting appointments, we continue to propose longer term contracts. Previously, the administration had rejected our proposals to create longer-term appointments of two or three years and to establish a path to tenure. Instead, the administration stated that language lifting the “five year cap” violated the Faculty Handbook. On Tuesday, they proposed adding the category of “instructional faculty” that would allow them to offer appointments of varying lengths beyond the five-year cap, but totally at their discretion and without any guidelines or guarantees for faculty, stating that the Faculty Handbook is no longer a barrier. Essentially, the college wants all the benefits of a full-time faculty that can be fired at will.
We were joined by David Kornreich, a member of the Ithaca College Contingent Faculty Union, who recently reached and ratified their first contract, narrowly averting a two-day strike. He explained to us that it was only through the legitimate threat of direct action that the administration moved on key proposals just like ours – job security and wages. Although we hope that we finish these negotiations soon, we are considering next steps, such as public action, if we don’t. We will be in touch soon about what that looks like and want your input.
If you have any questions, please reply to this email or call Sean Collins,Lead Organizer and Representative at 518.265.9895.
Your Siena College Contingent Faculty Union Negotiating Committee