Contract negotiations are supposed to be good-faith undertakings, in which each side agrees to be honest at the bargaining table, committed to the confidentiality that makes honest negotiations possible, and supportive of whatever final agreement is reached, even though neither side will get everything it wants. That good faith, however, does not appear out of nowhere. It is created when each side treats the other with decency and respect, no matter how far apart they may be on the issues. On May 2nd, the Long Island University Faculty Federation (LIUFF), which represents all full and part-time faculty at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus voted to authorize a strike vote, expressing concerns about a number of issues, including “the need for the university to bargain in good faith.” Clearly, the union did not feel respected.
In response, rather than work to demonstrate that the strike authorization vote was not really necessary, and despite the fact that negotiations are still ongoing, LIU-Brooklyn’s administration has posted job ads in an attempt to recruit part time replacement workers. In a flyer they have been distributing, and that has been posted to the union’s website—a copy is below—the LIUFF is asking us to show solidarity and spread the word far and wide to people we know who might otherwise be tempted to apply for these jobs. The fewer people who do, the more likely it is that the university will see no alternative but to show the good faith at the bargaining table that has apparently been lacking till now.
Currently, the NCCFT Executive Committee is attending the national convention of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in Minneapolis, MN. One of the themes running through the conference has been that strong faculty contracts are a cornerstone of quality higher education, not just because they establish working conditions that allow us to do our best work, but also because such contracts demonstrate a material commitment to providing a high quality classroom experience for students. We can only achieve strong contracts, however, if we take the long view, recognizing that ads like the ones put out by LIU-Brooklyn are part of a divide and conquer strategy that we cannot allow to succeed.
For this reason, the NCCFT stands with the Long Island University Faculty Federation, and we ask our members not to apply for these replacement positions and also to encourage everyone you know who could apply not to do so.