About 120 faculty gathered at the meeting of Nassau County’s full legislature on Monday, Jan 23, 2023, to urge the legislators to support a fair contract for the full-time faculty, and to do all that the legislators can to influence the College NOT to impose a pay reduction of as much as $5,000 on faculty for health insurance premium increases, a reduction we assume the College trustees approved at their January 10th meeting to cover the cost of health insurance premium increases.
President Faren Siminoff, as well as many faculty, noted that our faculty have modest salaries, face education loans, and — like many families — find it difficult to live in Nassau County on their income. One faculty member mentioned having had to move out of Nassau County, another stated that this pay reduction makes him seriously consider moving to another state.
Faculty also said that the pay reduction, coming after a period of extraordinary effort to meet the needs of students during COVID, feels like a slap in the face. And pointed out that the timing of this imposition, in January, comes too late for enrollment in other insurance plans for 2023 to be an option.
One speaker observed the famous line that politics is “the art of the possible” and urged Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello to ask the College again, as he had asked Acting President Maria Conzatti last summer, if the College has enough money. (Dr. Conzatti had answered yes, the College does not need more County funding, last summer.) Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton noted that the College had actually expected a 9% decline in enrollment in the fall, but experienced a lesser decline of more like 4 to 5%. (This is despite the NCC portal being down a couple days in late August – a critical time for fall enrollment, as it was again this week — a critical time for Spring enrollment.)
The County legislators were called on to ensure that Nassau Community College has solid leadership. Students and alumni recounted personal histories as weak, unprepared students or as students who were young, alone, and rather lost, or as students struggling with challenges such as autism — and that at Nassau Community College, they had been able to build strengths, abilities, independence and achieve success that they doubted they would have achieved elsewhere. One person lamented the loss of the Department of Reading and Basic Education in recent years. The legislators were called on to ensure that the Nassau Community College has the leadership it needs to be a County “gem” in the future as it has been in the past. Student Ariel Silberman argued that “any college is only as strong as the people who teach, so give the professors — and by extension the students — the best of foundations on which to build their futures.”
We applaud the faculty who turned out, despite the short notice, despite the rain, and despite the semester starting the next day. This was a great step. The legislators listened attentively. Long Island News 12 and the Long Island Herald wrote articles about our crisis. However, we know this action must be followed up with more steps of collective action, so,
First, we ask all faculty to make plans to attend the Board of Trustees’ meeting on Thursday, Feb. 9. We had over 100 faculty in December; can we have over 200 on February 9th? We encourage faculty to consider sharing their personal stories regarding why you need a fair contract.
Second, we ask everyone — faculty, alumni, retirees, Nassau residents — to send a letter to Nassau County legislators and County Executive Bruce Blakeman asking for a fair contract for its full-time faculty. Click here to Send a Letter to Nassau Legislators; be sure to scroll down on next page, provide information, and click “start writing.”