Thank you to everyone who attended the N.C.C. Board of Trustees’ December 13th meeting. The room was packed, with all seats taken and folks standing in the back.
A special thanks to those who helped organize us: to Cheryl McBride for help with graphics; to Virginia and Alex Sanchioli for managing the food that fortified us; to our office secretary/manager Danielle Sforza, for finessing several last-minute checks and fielding questions. Thank you to everyone who rallied their department, who encouraged others to attend, who made plans to come with friends — maybe after drinks! And, of course, a special thank you to everyone who spoke: NCCFT Pres. Faren Siminoff, Ariel Lan (student), Patricia Clark (student), Academic Senate Chair Elizabeth Hynes-Musnisky, LINCC Coordinator Natalia de Cuba, Pramila Venkateswaran, Art Dept. Chair Izolda Maksym, Biology Dept. Chair Christine Tuallion, NCCFT Secretary Suzanne Kaebnick, NCCFT VP of Classroom David Stern, Jessica Cavierlino (student), Richard Newman, and Ricardo Santos.
The excellence of our faculty was evident repeatedly: from Interim President Maria Conzatti’s praise of faculty mentors and student creators in the Creative Writing Club’s student magazine, which won multiple awards from the Community College Humanities Association, to 4 faculty winners of SUNY Chancellor’s Awards — John DeSpagna, Ernest Falcon, Elisa Salvi, and Joel Vessels — to Adrienne Motel for procuring a $10,000 Perkins Grant for the Legal Studies department, and then again in faculty and student speeches as they described their work in the Academic Senate, LINCC, Women’s Studies, Latin American Studies, publications, and experiences in classrooms and clubs. The importance of release time for the Executive Officers of the Academic Senate, for sabbaticals enabling research and writing, and the importance of supporting coordinators who accomplish the work of special programs –– such as Creative Writing program or Women’s Studies, — was noted. The need for a fair contract that preserves this release time was clear to faculty, and, we hope, to the Trustees.
The need for a contract with fair compensation is both well-deserved but critical to the maintenance of our full-time faculty. As NCCFT President Faren Siminoff noted, we have had years of belt-tightening contracts, small salary increases, no increases, and half steps. We doubled-down during the pandemic, learning new technologies and adapting pedagogical practices to work with classes remotely. We have also seen the purchasing power of our income decrease with inflation of 7%. We have now been in negotiation with the College for 8 months, and they have yet to put a fair offer on the table. Faculty go above and beyond, as seen in work referred to by Interim Pres. Maria Conzatti and others, and as they admitted, “the College depends on this work,” but it has yet to offer us a fair contract. NCCFT Secretary Suzanne Kaebnick drew attention to the particular plight of our “junior” faculty, who are, “junior” only in terms of recent hire: not in their experience or ages. Of the 16 recent hires, the youngest two were 31 and 32 years of age, family-building age. She noted that according to M.I.T. ‘s living wage calculator, an adult with one child would need an annual income of $96,574 before taxes to have just a living wage standard— no extras for restaurants, vacations, or investments. (With two parents, and one of them non-working, an annual living wage is $83,138.) However, the average salary of the P scale faculty with steps 1-5 is about $59,000 and for instructors it is about $65,000, obviously below the living wage for Nassau County. She asked all to also consider the student loans for graduate study, which is generally 5 to 7 years for a doctoral program, that instructors likely have. And she concluded by asking the Trustees to invest in the faculty, the core of the college, and preserve it as an economic and cultural engine of Nassau County.
It is time the college offered its full-time faculty a fair contract!