May 23 was a good union day! First, there was the NCCFT rally in front of the Nassau County Legislature at 3:30 p.m.; its turnout, 50 people, we think was great for a brand new campaign. We rallied on that day because the full legislature was meeting; and, in fact, VP David Stern spoke to them later in the evening.
Secretary Suzanne Kaebnick opened the rally with our campaign request: let’s rebuild the College. The College, we have been told, stands on the brink of insolvency. While COVID has certainly been one factor, it is clear that fourteen years with no increase to the College’s operating budget has played a major role. Fourteen years of no increases actually means the loss of millions in real dollars when inflation is factored into our operating budget.
We must begin to turn this around and launch NCC into a brighter future. The first step must be an increase to the College’s operating budget. It is imperative for the College to withdraw the zero budget it submitted and revise it, asking for an increase that includes budgetary lines for new academic initiatives and support services. Suzanne Kaebnick referred to various faculty requests including expansion of cyber technology programs, computer game design, nursing, and medical assistant programs.
We see on a daily basis what is lacking at the College. In some departments there are only one or two full-time faculty; in others, there are no full-time instructional faculty. We have counselors asked to handle too many students and a dearth of ITS faculty. The list goes on. We now run the risk that degrees will lose accreditation. Chair Richard Ginsberg of Theater and Dance stated he is now the department’s last full-time faculty member. That department actually does not have a single full-time teaching member. Ironically, the department’s enrollment has increased during the pandemic, but failure to properly staff and fund it puts their future at risk.
Elizabeth Hynes-Musinsky spoke both as an alum of NCC and as the Chair of the Academic Senate when she expressed hope that the two new trustees of our Board of Trustees and our Interim President Maria Conzatti will lead administration into a new era of collaboration with faculty to create together a brighter future for the college. Let’s hope her words are prophetic.
Nicole Schiffmacher, of Allied Health Sciences, shared that the department had to turn down partnering with Northwell to develop a sonograph technology program because the College was not willing to hire a full-time faculty member to run it. Yet another missed opportunity!
Later that evening, VP of Classroom Faculty, David Stern speaking in front of the full legislature, explained our budgetary predicament and asked the county to send the college’s budget back for revision. The audience was receptive as indicated by the healthy round of applause he received. And last, but certainly not least, Professor Greg Lehenbauer, from the Physical Sciences department, our long-time representative to the Long Island Federation of Labor, successfully rallied the LI Federation of Labor’s support for our campaign at its monthly general membership meeting.
Please also mark your calendars for June 27 to attend our last rally right before the Legislature votes! We will meet again in front of the Nassau County legislature at 3:30 p.m. A union’s strength is in its members and numbers. Show us who you are! Show us who we are!