Long Island University Brooklyn votes down contract offer

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Faculty at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus overwhelmingly voted down a contract offer from the administration after it chose to lock out more than 400 faculty members rather than bargain in good faith, the Long Island University Faculty Federation said Sept. 6.

That same day, the University Faculty Senate, which represents faculty on all of LIU's campuses, followed the union's lead, with 93 percent voting "no confidence" in the administration's leadership. Combined with the resounding defeat of the university's proposal to the union, the vote by the faculty senate shows that the administration is moving in the wrong direction.

"The administration's decision to lock us out rather than negotiate has already damaged our students and our members. Over the weekend, our health insurance was cut off, with people finding out as they were filling prescriptions. We want to teach our students under a contract that affords us dignity and voice. That is why we're fighting back," says Jessica Rosenberg, LIUFF president.

"The university's behavior is appalling. Rather than work collaboratively with the union to reach a settlement, the administration chose to lock faculty out and deprive students of the instruction that they expected and are paying for through their tuition. The university is showing its disregard for students and disrespect for the hardworking professional faculty who make up the heart and soul of the campus," says AFT President Randi Weingarten.

Faculty conducted an informational picket on Sept. 7, followed by speakers, including students, educators, representatives from New York Communities for Change and the Working Families Party, and other allies.

Currently, nearly half of the Brooklyn faculty are paid less than their LIU Post campus (Nassau County) counterparts, some by as much as 20 percent, yet both campuses charge the same tuition—$32,000 a year—and faculty credentials are equivalent. LIU says it will not reach parity between the two campuses until 2020. The union wants to reach parity earlier, by 2019.

The Brooklyn faculty union's contract expired on Sept. 2. The university locked out the faculty at 12:01 a.m. on Sept. 3, cut off their health insurance and threatened to replace faculty with administration staff.

LIU started looking for "replacement faculty" over the summer but can't find enough qualified faculty to teach classes. LIU Brooklyn students will be entering classrooms Sept. 7 with faculty who may have no qualifications at all, imperiling their education and LIU's accreditation status.

It also means that student teachers from LIU—about to enter public schools all over the New York City metropolitan area—may have no qualified supervising faculty.

Additional statements in support of the Long Island University Faculty Federation can be found online:

[AFT press release]