Synergy is a term used to describe efforts which, when joined, produce a result greater than the sum of their contributions. In the case of Nassau Community College, greater does not mean better.
In the face of political and financial problems the likes of which we have not seen at NCC in a very long time, we are experiencing an unfortunate synergy resulting from efforts on the part of the Board of Trustees and members of the administration whose combined lack of experience with NCC’s culture and structure on the one hand, and hostility to academic culture on the other, are producing obstacles that are greater than the sum of their efforts. This unfortunate synergy has created an atmosphere whereby the Administration is dysfunctional, the Board of Trustees is inexperienced, and recently relations between faculty and staff have lost some of the civility and professionalism we consider one of our strengths as a community. As we close the 2011 calendar year, the mood on this campus is angry, depressed and distrustful. It is apparent in recent email exchanges, at the Senate, at Department meetings, at the Board of Trustees meetings and even in the hallways. The Student Government Association has attempted to step in much the way a child of fighting parents tries to mediate their arguments. We, the Executive Committee of the NCCFT are listening and we hear your voices. We know that we need to work toward financial and political stability. If we don’t achieve those things, the entire campus is headed for a train wreck. The NCCFT Executive Committee is meeting with members of the Administration, members of the Board of Trustees, the leaders of our governance committees, and not least of all, our members. We are listening.
One of the fundamental problems is a general lack of agreement between the NCCFT and the Administration regarding the spirit, intent, and application of many articles in our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). For example:
- The administration’s misunderstanding of our contract and longstanding past practice has resulted in our filing a complaint with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) regarding the conversion from temporary to probationary status for any member appointed to a fifth semester. We have a hearing at PERB on January 19, 2012.
- We are in mediation – still! – regarding the title of LINCC Lecturer, which was placed by PERB into our bargaining unit two years ago!
- We continue to fight incursions into the authority of the Academic Senate and the Departments.
- We have NYSUT’s legal research team looking into several issues including the most recent: faculty free speech rights in public higher education.
- On November 29, 2011, the NCCFT filed a step II grievance, asserting the College was violating Section 11 (Student:Faculty Ratio) of the CBA. The College responded, denies that there was a violation. We have appealed to the Grievance Board (Step III in our grievance process). We will let the Grievance Board make their determination. The Grievance Board consists of an NCCFT representative, an Administrative representative, and a neutral party agreed to by both the NCCFT and the Administration. Currently Faren Siminoff (HIS/POL/GEO and NCCFT Secretary) represents the NCCFT, and Ann Marie Pagnotta (MAT/CSI/ITE) is the neutral party.
- December 15, 2011, the NCCFT filed a Step II grievance, asserting the College was in violation of Section 1-5 of the CBA when they denied the NCCFT access to the allncc email list. This section reads: “The union shall be provided with an office, intra-college phone service, and unrestricted intra-college mail service”.
We will use the energy, spirit, talent and intelligence of the membership to create our own form of synergy. We will need each of you to add your voice and your energy to an effort characterized by civility, reason, passion, and solidarity. Our synergy will result in a better Nassau Community College .
We are too big to fail!
The NCCFT Executive Committee wants to wish each of you a happy, healthy and a peaceful holiday season. We will see you in 2012, with good will to all.