About the Pratt Faculty Union
The effort to organize faculty at Pratt began in the late 1960’s, and the first Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was signed on September 1, 1973, under the leadership of the Union’s first president, Estelle Horowitz (an economics professor in the Social Sciences department).The UFCT Local 1460 represents and bargains collectively with the administration on behalf of both full and part-time faculty members.
During the Fall 2007 negotiation, a landmark agreement was reached between the Union and the administration to grant the Union an “agency fee.” Until that time, some faculty elected to join, pay dues, and have an active voice in the Union (attending meetings, voting on contracts, running for office and voting in elections) and others did nothing at all, while still receiving the protection of the contract and the right to Union representation for grievances. With the 2007-2011 CBA, all faculty members must make a choice to either become a Union member or to pay an agency fee, a fee that acknowledges the service performed by the Union on behalf of all faculty at Pratt.
The Union works to negotiate for higher salaries and better benefits; to protect faculty rights and conduct the grievance process; and to keep faculty informed about the promotion process and their already-existing rights, including academic freedom.
Most members of the Pratt faculty and administration will no doubt agree that a palpable transformation in the Union has been taking place during the past decade. From a body that during the 1980’s and 1990’s was largely run by full-time faculty and received low faculty interest, especially among part-timers, the Union has become an inclusive, vital body that is actively exercising the rights embedded in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The part-time faculty have become much more involved, even and especially in leadership positions in the Union, and this has served to make the Union much stronger.
This transformation is especially thrilling, and unexpected, given the anti-Labor climate that has pervaded the United States since the beginning of George W. Bush’s presidency, as well as the fact that the 1980 Supreme Court decision known as the “Yeshiva decision” has made it extremely difficult for faculty at private colleges and universities to organize, and has made those unions that do exist vulnerable to de-recognition. Thanks to a productive relationship between the Union and the administration, the collective bargaining process has become integral to the improvement of the educational environment at Pratt Institute as a whole. The effects an Obama administration on organized labor are of course yet to be known (as of March 2010): the Employee Free Choice Act has not yet been passed; health care reform remains controversial and has not yet passed; and higher education in the public sector is under assault due to massive budget cuts, disappointing developments after a campaign based on “hope” and “change.”
The Union is, naturally, trying to facilitate material and economic changes that benefit the faculty, but these changes are also creating a better educational atmosphere at Pratt. The two, of course, go hand in hand. This description of the life of a contingent faculty member clearly reveals why: “…it is a hard life of traveling from one teaching gig to the next, patching together a meager salary and expending a great deal of personal energy and gas doing so” (Introduction, Steal this University, Benjamin Johnson et al, eds., 5). The Union’s efforts to gain better salaries, benefits, and more security (especially through the preservation of full-time tenure and the Certificate of Continuous Employment [CCE] for part-time faculty) for “contingent” part-time faculty (not our term; we don’t like to think of faculty as “contingent,” or as “knowledge-workers” for that matter) aims to free up more of their time and energy to devote to teaching, creative work, and research, rather than continually being worried about the most basic needs. More time spent on independent research and creative work (rather than tracking down another teaching gig to pay the rent) in turn enriches the classroom experience for students because their professors thereby are able to keep current in their fields, nourish their own expertise and talents, integrate the latest thinking into their own original work, and continue to find new, more exciting ways to present this material to their students.
The UFCT 1460 is affiliated with NYSUT, the AFT, and the AFL-CIO
UFCT Conference Room (123 North Hall)
The UFCT office is located in 125 North Hall. Next door, in 123 North Hall, there is a UFCT conference room for the exclusive use of UFCT members. Generally, Kye’s schedule is Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of each week. However, truth be told there is often a fourth day thrown in to attend to negotiations and/or grievances. Kye opens the conference room each day he’s there, for any member who wishes to relax between classes, grade papers, etc. Currently, the conference room is furnished with a conference table which seats ten, two couches and a telephone for member’s use. Shortly, the room will be spruced-up, and supplied with a small refrigerator and coffee maker. Please feel free to use the room as you need. If you need access on a day the room is not generally open, please contact Kye so he can provide you with a key for access.