Dear members (and non-members),
Here is a short summary of what happened at the Union meeting that took place yesterday from 12:30-2 in 110 Engineering.
1. WHO IS A MEMBER?
There was some confusion at the beginning of the meeting over whether faculty members who are not members of the union were permitted to be present at the meeting. A "member" is defined as someone who pays union dues and has filled out the paperwork. This is a confusing situation because even though many members of the faculty are not currently members of the Union, they are still covered by the terms and conditions of employment laid out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Obviously, one of the greatest benefits of membership is the right to be present at meetings, to have a say, and to vote on such crucial matters as the new contract.
A fundamental change in this new CBA, should it be approved by the membership, is that the Union has gained what is called an "agency fee." This means that all faculty will be required to either pay an agency fee to the union (since the union bargains on their behalf and represents their grievances) or to join the union. We will obviously be having many more discussions about the significance of this change, should it be approved by the current membership.
The first item on the agenda concerned the election of executive officers. Nominations for the positions of President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer were solicited from all members last fall. All positions only received one nomination, as follows:
President: Kye Carbone (current UFCT 1460 president; member of 2007-2008 negotiating team; adjunct professor of Foundation; CCE)
Vice-President: Suzanne Verderber (current UFCT 1460 secretary; member of 2007-2008 negotiating team; full-time associate professor of English and Humanities; tenured)
Secretary: Holly Wilson (member of 2007-2008 negotiating team; full-time assistant professor in the Library)
Treasurer: Anne Turyn (current UFCT 1460 treasurer; adjunct professor of media arts; CCE)
NYSUT rules stipulate that if only one nomination for a position is received, a secret, mail-in ballot can be waived and elections can be held by a hand vote. The membership, by hand vote, approved this method, and by the following vote approved those who had been nominated:
3. GENERAL DISCUSSION OF NEGOTIATIONS
Kye Carbone took about 15 minutes at the meeting to explain the general structure of negotiations. 2007-2008 negotiations consisted of around 10 sessions of about 3 hours each; the Union team tried to work together to make gains for all members of Pratt's complex faculty, both full-time and part-time. Kye also reminded the membership that all of last year was spent defining issues for negotiation from the membership by way of the delegates in each department.
4. DISCUSSION OF THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
Kye Carbone next reviewed each article in the MOU, in reverse order, leaving the obviously controversial topic of Article 3, concerning academic freedom, to the end. He asked that all questions be held until the end of the meeting. Many concerns were addressed: the potential "chilling effect" of the article; the need for more discussion for such a difficult, far-reaching issue; and the need for broader Institute discussion of academic freedom in general. There was also frustration expressed with the fact that this important stage of the process was taking place at the end of the semester (ballots voting for or against the MOU are due May 23), when faculty are especially busy, and are getting ready to leave campus. The discussion was passionate and engaged in a way that I cannot quite capture here. The outcome of the discussion was that Kye promised to have more meetings in the next few weeks to allow further discussion of the MOU and especially of academic freedom. I will post the date, time, and place of these meetings as soon as I have that information.
I invite anyone to contact Kye or me (our contact information is in the "About" section) with any questions or concerns you may have.