It’s easy to forget just how much of what we take for granted in our lives here at Nassau Community College is rooted in a collective bargaining agreement that very pointedly does not take for granted our indispensable role in establishing, maintaining and nurturing the academic quality and integrity of this institution. If you’ve never done so, log onto LionNet and read the list of senate committees. Then consider what our daily lives on campus would be like if we had no voice, or no effective voice, in things like curriculum, technology, assessment, planning, developmental education, educational resources or any other area of senate responsibility. Or think about the fact that–when it comes to promotion, tenure and sabbaticals–we are observed and our work evaluated by our colleagues, not administrators; or that our department chairs are colleagues and not administrative supervisors; or about the authority and responsibility our P&B committees have to set policies in each department. Without our contract, none of this would be possible and Nassau Community College would not be the academically superior place it is to work or to come to for an education.
Our current collective bargaining agreement expires in August of 2013. We’ve already told you what the Board of Trustees will propose in negotiating a successor agreement. To say that those negotiations promise to be difficult, therefore, is to state the obvious; but that is precisely why, no matter how tired we are–and we are all tired–we cannot afford to be any less vigilant than we were during Donald Astrab’s administration. That is why, if there are those among us who are indifferent, or who think nothing they do will make a difference anyway, we have to persuade them otherwise. That is why we cannot allow the differences among us—some of which became painfully visible last year—to divide us.
To put it simply, the security and integrity of my job depends on the security and integrity of yours. And vice versa. An administration and Board of Trustees that is as willing as ours to rely on increasing numbers of part-time and temporary faculty to teach our courses, essentially outsourcing classroom instruction, is unlikely to see NCCFT members working in other areas of the college as any less replaceable. Indeed, as higher education administrations nationwide are taking more and more control away from faculty, they are also outsourcing more and more of the campus programs and services that both contribute to the quality of student life and enable classroom faculty to do their jobs as efficiently and effectively as possible. A book that members of our administration have turned to for guidance, R. C. Dickerson’s Prioritizing Academic Programs and Services: Reallocating Resources to Achieve Strategic Balance, offers a list that includes:
- Admissions management
- Counseling, testing and psychiatric services
- Student financial aid administration
- Technology access and computing services (127-128)
We are, in other words, all in this together, which is why none of us can afford to look at the coming negotiations through the narrow lens of our own self-interests and why it behooves all of us to understand better and actively appreciate the work our colleagues in other departments and other parts of the campus do. To allow any one part of our contract to be weakened is to weaken the entire contract, is to do the Board’s work for it, and we can’t allow that to happen. So we want to remind you yet one more time how important it is for as many of us as possible to show up at the Board of Trustees meeting at 8 AM on September 25th and at every other Board of Trustees meeting after that. We are entering the next phase of this struggle and the stakes are getting higher. The victories we’ve already won–Donald Astrab’s resignation; the recent PERB ruling against the college; retaining most of the Academic Senate’s reassigned time; getting full health insurance and salary for the LINCC lecturers–demonstrate you are up to the challenges we will face. As your Executive Committee, we are looking forward to all of us working together.