Category Archives: Faculty Posts

Posts by faculty who are not on the executive committee, and who are or are not union members.

PT Faculty Union Member Emily Beall and UFCT Secretary Holly Wilson Attend Contingent Labor Meeting in DC

Dear Colleagues,

I recently attended, with UFCT local 1460 Secretary Holly Wilson, a Summit on the role of contingent labor in the academy.  The Summit was titled, “Reclaiming Academic Democracy: Facing the Consequences of Contingent Employment in Higher Education,” and was convened by a new organization called “New Faculty Majority,” whose goal is to educate about and advocate for equity for contingent professors nationally.  They work with existing unions, but are something of a supra-union organization–not unlike, say, the Freelancer’s Union.  I encourage you to read MLA President Michael Bérubé’s astute briefing on the summit at the Chronicle of Higher Ed, but I’d like to add my own ‘report-back’ here, too.

It was incredibly enlivening to speak with and learn from my counterparts across the country, and I met many committed unionists who, like our Union, have been innovating ways to garner rights and benefits for their Adjunct members.  Of course, many faculty don’t have the privilege and protection of a union, which means (as many of us who work at other institutions perhaps know too well):  no rights, no benefits, no assurance of work from semester-to-semester, no say in governance, no clear processes for evaluation and promotion, and so forth.  I found particularly acute discussions about how part-timers, because they have to rely mostly on student evaluations as support for being re-hired, don’t in fact have academic freedom–which in turn threatens academic freedom for full timers and students alike.

Now this laundry list of what other Adjuncts don’t have reminds me, once again, just how strong our own Collective Bargaining Agreement is on many of these points–especially ARPT–and how innovative our “Certificate of Continuing Education” is.  Of course there’s always more to do, and I left the conference refreshed in my conviction that the future of higher education is inextricable from the role of labor in the academy.  If we’re committed to preserving our classrooms as spaces for free and open discourse–that is, for the learning that underpins civil society–then we need to, as faculty, insist that we are the core of the university, and that we therefore must have equity and freedom.

Please do be in touch if you’d like to know more or want to discuss these matters.  You can reach me at  emilybeall@gmail.com

In solidarity,
Emily Beall
Adjunct Assistant Professor, HMS

A letter of support and solidarity from a Union member

Our colleague Jim Costanzo has asked me to circulate his comments…

______

Kye,

I appreciate all that you, the negotiating team and other officers have done to negotiate and ratify the contract.

Pratt Institute is at a crossroads and the changes and acrimony that you mentioned go beyond the Union. The Master Academic Plan has proposed significant changes that has generated debates as intense as those involving the Union.

I believe that change is a good thing for the Institute. Those of use who have taught at Pratt for over 10 years will remember that Memorial Hall was at the point of literally collapsing. It was closed and the roof might not have made it through a few more winters, drawing rooms in the main building had to close during heavy rains because of leaks. After numerous renovations the administration has rebuilt the Brooklyn campus and bought a building in Manhattan.

There has also been a serious effort to improve the Institute's reputation. We have always had a good reputation, with some departments and schools rated higher then others, but financial difficulties of the last century have had a negative effect on the academics.

The faculty has consistently worked to improve Pratt's reputation and I hope that we can all agree that a strong and committed Union will work with the Administration to improve the quality of education.

Change is never easy but with an 86% victory I hope that we can return to the reason that we joined the Union, a secure and positive teaching environment.

In Solidarity,

Jim

p.s. Kye please send this out to the rest of the Union members. My email cant deal with that many recipients.

______

kyecarbone2@aol.com wrote:

Dear UFCT Member:

I am obviously thrilled that the 2007-2011 Collective Bargaining >

Agreement has been ratified, and by such an overwhelming margin [86% > ‘In Favor’!!]

Yet, I would be less than honest if I did not confess being disturbed

> by the negative efforts of a few naysayers these last four weeks. The > UFCT's Executive, Negotiating and Grievance Committees are exhausted, > as we have had to beat back and counter [twenty-four-seven] what was a > concerted campaign of innuendo and slander by a few spoilers who > instinctively reject all change and reform.

In the final analysis though, WE have achieved a strong contract for

> ALL, as every one of us will benefit from our collective efforts, > including – as it should – our naysayer brothers and sisters.

It has been an honor being your Union President. I continue to pledge

> my dedication and commitment to the challenges that lay ahead and > promise never to lose sight of the confidence and trust bestowed upon me.

In Solidarity,

-Kye

Follow-up on May 8 Union Meeting – Admin Imposing a Contract if MOU is Not Ratified

Ric Brown asked (and I believe others similarly concurred) that I follow-up by providing my understanding of the statute governing negotiations, in particular the claim and concern that the administration would or could impose a contract on the union in the event that the MOU is not ratified by its membership.
Section 8 (a) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) defines employer unfair labor practices (ULP). Five types of conduct are made illegal. Section 8(a)(5) prohibits the employer from refusing to recognize and bargain in good faith with a union that is the exclusive representative of employees. ULP in this section also include failures to supply information and unilateral changes (citations at the bottom). 
I understand that whether or not a contract may be imposed depends on what the union and admin agreed to, upon signing of the MOU by both parties. For management to LEGALLY IMPOSE a contract on the union if the MOU is not ratified, management would have  to, in advance, declare to the following effect: this is our last, best offer; if your membership votes “no” to the MOU, then management will impose a contrat as specified [specification]. 
I further understand that the union negotiating team does not have to agree to management’s condition of non-ratification, but it would have the responsibility of informing its membership of management’s position on non-ratification.
For management to impose a contract without advanced notification leaves the admin highly vulnerable to an unfair labor practice charge by the union; a violation of NLRA Section 8(a)(5), Employer refusal to bargain in good faith with union representatives. 
ULP Section 8(a)(5)
(a) Bad-faith bargaining.  Reichhold Chemicals, 288 NLRB 69 (1988).  “. . . we intend to adhere to the general proposition that the content of bargaining proposals will, in certain circumstances, be evidence of an intent to frustrate the collective-bargaining process.” 
(b) Unilateral changes.  NLRB v. Katz, 369 U.S. 736 (1962).  Unilateral change prior to good-faith impasse is ordinarily unlawful. 
Section 8 (b) of the Act defines union unfair labor practices
Jenny Lee

Proposed Removal of Fringe Benefit in Article 28.5

Another proposed removal from the Faculty Contract is the provision for faculty housing. Giving up this long-standing fringe benefit, I understand, is a significant conciliation by the union. I have two questions:

One, what did the union gain in negotiations, in return for giving up faculty housing?

Two, is the turning over of this real estate to the institute already a "done deal" even before membership consideration of the MOU?

Jenny Lee

— 

Click here for the <a xhref="http://www.pratt-union.org/category/memorandum-of-understanding-2007-11/" target="_blank"><b><i>Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)</b></i></a href>.

ARTICLE XXVIII

OTHER FRINGE BENEFITS 

<Delete 28.5>

The following is proposed to be deleted:

XXVIII.5 Faculty-Staff Housing  

a) One family housing maintained by the Institute will be offered preferentially to full-time faculty, CCE’s, Deans, Chairs and Directors on a first come, first served basis, to be utilized as a primary residence, from an open waiting list which shall be a matter of public record. This clause shall not be construed to prejudice the rights of any present occupant. The need for security and maintenance of the Institute may continue as an exception to the foregoing. 

b) In the event that vacant housing exists for two months, and none of the above-named personnel appear on the open waiting list, the administration may rent such housing to any Institute employee. 

c) All other housing maintained by the Institute shall be rented to the faculty and all other Institute employees on a first come, first served basis from an open waiting list which shall be a matter of public record.  This clause shall not be construed to prejudice the rights of any present occupant. The need for security and maintenance of the Institute may continue as an exception to the foregoing.

Wasted Posts

I have been posting comments earlier this week on what I thought was the union site becasue I have posted to that site in the past. <http://www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/mb/ufct1460>.

I never received a notice that the union was using a new site with a completely new login requirement. I discovered this site only be reading someone's post to the Forum listserv. As a member of the faculty, I don't understand why it is consistently challenging to communicate via the union's online methods. I'll try to move the posts I've made over to this site now, but I'm becoming weary of this.

Rick Barry 

May 1st Meeting, Questions

Post

The May 1st meeting unfortunately left me with more questions than answers.  In part one could blame the format of the meeting, where 75% of the meeting was used up hearing what the Union Officers did during negotiations and how they interpreted the content of the changes.  All of this would have been well and good if there had been adequate time to discuss these changes with the rest of the Union membership.  From my audience seat there were some profound differences in points of view regarding the interpretation of what has now appears in print in the MOU, as well as what was given out as “informed” answers from pulpit.  There are so many serous and questionable issues that need vetting that it is difficult to begin.  Here I will bring up only a few.

There was much interest from the audience in knowing the possible results of not ratifying the contract.  The answer that was issued to the membership seemed on the surface a responsible one, in that all of us need to understand the possible extremes to any action.  However, the impression given was that a strike or imposed contract would be the inevitable result of not ratifying.  Any thinking person would realize that is not true.  There is quite a bit of wiggle room between not ratifying and a strike.  We should look at past practice, if not at Pratt but at other schools who in their recent negotiations came to impasses. What was the resulting impact to their final agreements, how many went on strike and how many didn’t.

It is questionable that it is a wise decision to hold the elections so soon after the signing of the MOU.  Once again we will be voting on a contract during the summer.  Wasn’t this a promise that was made by our Union President that this would never happen again?

Nor can I speak for proposed contract’s distribution since it seems that process remains rather vague.  Has everyone in the Union received a copy of the MOU?  School is essentially over.  In the past copies were placed in everyone’s mailboxes during the semester.  Email and the website cannot reach everyone.  Unless a faculty member is proactive and reads their messages or goes to the UFTC webpage, how is it expected that they will be informed?  As of now the MOU is still not viewable on the site.  I understand it will be soon. 

Another aspect to the meeting I found unfortunate was the lack of representation from a UFCT lawyer.  It was my understanding there would be one at the meeting.  This omission is serious, since there were a lot of legal questions that needed answering.

Most importantly, and not to be overlooked by this writer, but too numerous to cover, are the changes to the language within the contract.  If we look at what is left of the original CBA that Kye so often praised and putting aside the new additions, what remains of its former self, could be regarded, as boilerplate.  I think, an examination of what happened to it, article by article is warranted.   Once this language is changed and/or gone, it will not return.

How did we get here?  One answer is the seductive offering of the Agency Fee.  It would be helpful to get a fuller explanation of the advantages that such a fee provides to the individual faculty member, given that a lot has been sacrificed for it.  

Iona Fromboluti