We are re-publishing here both Newsday’s April 7, 2023 article on NCCFT and College negotiations as well as Newday’s reporting on the trustees’ failure to select 1 of the 5 finalists of its presidential search committee. The NCCFT has been reaching out to the media repeatedly in the past weeks, and we are glad to see some coverage.
The NCCFT is pleased that over the past year we have established open channels of communication with Newsday and are now able to get the faculty/union perspective out into the public.
Newsday, Combined editions; Long Island, N.Y. [Long Island, N.Y]. 07 Apr 2023: 12.
NCC, faculty at impasse over new deal: To get mediation; wages, benefits key differences
By Carol Polsky
Contract negotiations between Nassau Community College and its faculty union were declared at an impasse this week and will now go to mediation, the college’s negotiator said.
Attorneys for both sides filed a Declaration of Impasse with the state Public Employment Relations Board on Wednesday after 28 bargaining sessions failed to produce a contract to replace one that expired Aug. 31. The two sides remain divided on wages, benefits and contract language, including a provision that has allowed the college to impose a 5% hike in health premium payments on faculty.
Both sides have agreed on a mediator and will start meeting in June.
“We hope that the mediator will bring about a fair resolution to our contract,” said Faren Siminoff, a history professor and president of the Nassau Community College Federation of Teachers, representing about 450 full-time faculty members, some of whom have mounted rallies and protests at board meetings over the prolonged negotiations.
The faculty also is protesting a health insurance premium hike the college imposed on March 23. The old labor agreement allows the hike to be passed on to faculty members if they are working under an expired contract.
The hike in premium payments has meant substantial cuts in take-home pay for faculty whose starting wages begin at $60,000 a year, Siminoff said. “This is a pay cut for a full-time professor with a PhD,” she said, noting she’d just received a call from a professor whose monthly take-home was reduced by $660 to $2,600. “It’s cruel.”
The college said in a statement that under the old contract, “if health insurance premiums increase during negotiations, the cost is passed along to those enjoying coverage.” The cost of the state plan rose “significantly” on Jan. 1 and given that the majority of Federation of Teachers members paid nothing toward the cost of health insurance, it said, the “possibility of the college bearing the full cost of the increases untenable.”
The impasse comes as the college board of trustees failed late last month to agree on any of five finalists for the position of college president after a six-month, $100,000 search by the firm R.H. Perry. The firm gave 25 names to a college search committee of faculty, administrators, trustees and others who interviewed 10 candidates in person before selecting five for board consideration.
The trustees have asked two of those not selected out of those 10 to return for further consideration, including public “town hall” type meetings, said John Gross, the outside counsel representing the board. Under SUNY guidelines for community colleges, both SUNY and the community college boards must approve a candidate.
Siminoff also expressed frustration over the presidential search at the Garden City campus, asserting that the five candidates not named finalists by the search committee, on which she serves, were “rejected.”
The board of trustees appears to be bypassing the search committee by asking the search firm to contact two candidates who didn’t make the cut to finalist for further consideration. Under SUNY guidelines, “If the college board of trustees finds none of the finalists acceptable, they may ask for additional names. If none of the alternates proves acceptable, the board may discharge the committee and begin again.”
The current acting president, Maria Conzatti, will continue in her role while the search continues. She was named interim, then acting president by the board after the previous president, Jermaine Williams, quit in December 2021 to assume the presidency of a Maryland community college.
During a prior presidential search, Conzatti, then an administrator at NCC, was rejected by the then-SUNY chancellor when the NCC board of trustees put forward her name for approval to become president.
CREDIT: Carol Polsky/ email@example.com
Copyright Newsday LLC Apr 7, 2023