|LIU students and faculty, including Sheila P. Vakharia.|
LIU Lockout, Meet the Future of Higher Education
My first academic job was at LIU. My friend Susannah helped me get the job there.
But last spring she had had enough, smelling something rotten, she went on the job market and found work in California, leaving LIU. She was just on time.
The following semester, faculty were locked out before classes began.
“William A. Herbert, executive director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions, said he could not think of an instance when a college or university had used a lockout against its faculty members.” Could this be a harbinger of things to come?
On Tuesday, faculty and staff from my union joined with LIU faculty and students to denounce the move by LIU.
My friend Michael Palias, who has been teaching at LIU since 1994, told me the administration appeared to have no interest in finding ground.
This is the future of higher education, more adjuncts and little faculty input. Its also why higher education organizing is so important, and why so many of my colleagues from the Professional Staff Congress were at the rally. Barbara Bowen both spoke and issued a statement (see below).
Carrying signs declaring, “Let them teach, let us learn.” the students were out in force.
“We will, we will fight back! Fight Back!”
“1234 – LIU has locked the door!
“5678 – Tell Kim to negotiate.”
Faculty carried signs declaring, “Let us teach.”
Walking around I stumbled into my friend Tibby, who suggested we look at the whole thing in terms of class.
“The students are people of color, many first generation students. This is a dis service to them.
Several students were passing out a petition declaring, “As an LIU student, I am deeply concerned by the administration’s lockout of LIU Brooklyn Faculty in the midst of negotiations. I pay a lot of tuition to attend LIU Brooklyn and I don’t believe Clein’s message that “highly qualified faculty with advanced degrees and expertise” have been assigned to teach my classes. I support LIU Brooklyn Faculty Federation and call President Cline’s administration to bargain in good faith and end the lockout immediately.”
They asked one international student who said she was scared to sign the form. She told them she had just received an email from the administration stating that if she signs anything related to the lockout she will lose her scholarship and be sent home.
Walking, I saw my friend Sheila P. Vakharia, a social work professor and harm reductionist, looking down. She had been talking with several of who her students who told her that the people teaching the classes had no idea what they were talking about.
“I’m disheartened and ashamed. This university opens the door to get education to minority students, to first generation students. And here we are denying them quality education, at the cost of what?”
Sitting there, several students started talking about a walkout.
LIU faculty later tweeted.
“Our students get it. They want the quality they are paying for. We at LIUFF support the #LIUWalkout as they support us. Thank you.
“@ShaunKing The entire Diagnostic Med Sono program professors are locked out! Except for 1 who is NOT fit to teach every field!! #LIUlockout
The Tweets from the campaign are telling.
#LIUlockout I have worked since I was 14 and never had to apply for unemployment. I have had a Ph.D. For 21 years and tomorrow applying
Later in the afternoon, I brought out my students from community organizing class to support the walkout.
They were appalled. We all were.
CUNY faculty worked for eight years without a contract, as most of the LIU faculty said they would be happy to do. They want to get back in the classroom, teach, and be compensated in the same way faculty are across the LIU system.
Hopefully this is not a harbinger of things to come.
But I’m not sure LIU wants to save its Brooklyn Campus. They sure are not acting like it.
In the meantime, LIU Brooklyn faculty and students are in need of solidarity and support.
PSC Statement in Solidarity with Long Island University Faculty FederationPresident Barbara Bowen
September 6, 2016
As a union of 27,000 faculty and staff in New York City whose members have just come through a very tough contract negotiation, the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY stands in solidarity with the faculty of the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University represented by the LIUFF. We are outraged at the cynical actions of the management of LIU, and we join your call for an immediate end to the lockout.
The Brooklyn faculty union’s contract expired on Friday, Sept. 2. The university locked out the faculty at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, cut off their health insurance and has begun to replace faculty with management scabs.
The lockout is an attempt to destroy the union by coercing its members to accept a contract that fails to meet legitimate demands for full-time faculty and further degrades the conditions of part-time faculty. Nearly half of the faculty members at the Brooklyn campus of LIU are paid significantly less than their counterparts at LIU’s suburban Nassau County campus (LIU Post), where the student body is less racially diverse than the student body at the Brooklyn campus.
The lockout not only punishes faculty; it threatens the quality of education for students, many of whom are, like CUNY students, first-generation college students and people of color.
A faculty union press release issued September 1 explains the issues: “The University seeks to eliminate a parity clause despite a long history of greater resources and compensation for suburban LIU Post; continues to offer Brooklyn a lower salary increase; seeks onerous changes such as post-tenure review; and aims to impose harsh new exploitative conditions on part-time adjunct faculty, including elimination of its benefit trust fund.”
An injury to one is an injury to all. The faculty and professional staff represented by the PSC understand that management actions at LIU undermine all workers in higher education. We will join you at your protest on September 7, offer any support we can, and call on our members not to undermine your solidarity or their own work by accepting offers to replace locked-out LIU faculty.
Click here for a fact sheet about the lockout, here for a flier and here to RSVP via the Facebook event created by the PSC chapter at the Graduate Center. You can also sign an online petition hosted by the AFT. It’s time for LIU to treat its employees with the dignity and respect they deserve by bargaining a fair contract now and ending this lockout.