12/1/2017 Bargaining Update

Member Update: Bargaining Session, December 1, 2017

The day after the strike, we walked into negotiations empowered, and nearly 40 strong. The room was overflowing with red shirts. Joining the union leadership in support, P-fac members, students, alumni and labor leaders packed the room.
It is clear that the college was impacted by the power and the impact of collective action. Their polite and even friendly behavior – so different from past sessions – is proof of success.

It is crucial that we celebrate our accomplishments and our unity as we plan next steps. Join us for the next coalition meeting and celebration. Tell your students, their parents, and alumni to join us:

OurColumbia PLANNING MEETING
(Food and drinks provided)
Thursday, December 7th,
600 south Michigan, 8th floor
6p.m. – 8p.m.
R.S.V.P. info@pfac.org

The bargaining session began with a statement from Chief of Staff, Laurent Pernot, insisting that the comprehensive contract rewrite the college presented to P-fac was meant only as a series of proposals, and that they never meant to suggest the removal of the seniority system (though the document denies seniority consideration in assignments). The negotiations began with the college wanting to address some of the “low hanging fruit” in the contract, in order to show progress through potential Tentative Agreements (TAs). The Union then addressed some of our concerns with the comprehensive and asked directly for a formal commitment from the College, to value pt faculty. We addressed the college’s unacceptable contract language, which would, in fact, remove our seniority system; and we interrogated the current the lack of shared governance. Citing some of the college’s top down decisions, clearly made in the interest of profits, not students, we mentioned the unethical ways curricula changes have been made; increasing class sizes and the lack of courses and course sections for our students.

After a caucus the college returned and made statements indicating a commitment to job security and shared governance, saying perhaps their proposals were not responses to our proposals and we’d all been subject to some confusion. They were cordial, even asking, “What would be palatable to the union?” a question so out of character as to be theatrical. Considering that the Op-Ed piece the Provost published in Crain’s, that very morning, restated – with no mitigation – the positions that brought us to the picket line; the tone and substance of the entire bargaining session may have been disingenuous, meant only for show, for the audience of observers. It’s worth noting that neither Dr. Wearden, nor Dr. Kim were concerned enough to attend. It should also be noted that an OpEd by the union was also published in Crain’s.

The letters of support from universities, unions, politicians and others continue to pour in. They understand that our efforts have only just begun and we will need support over the long run.

The session ended with students and faculty sharing their concerns and specific stories of their difficulties with the current practices at Columbia.

Save the date:
The next bargaining session
Friday, December 15, 12pm-2pm, pending confirmation.
Invite your students and alumni to attend
R.S.V.P info@pfac.org

We need DOUBLE THE NUMBER of faculty, students and alumni to attend. Students suggested inviting parents into the room. We need WITNESSES, as we ask the college to put – in writing – their pledge of a commitment to value part-time faculty as part of One Faculty. This pledge was made by Dr. Kim, when we signed our last contract. We intend to hold the college to its word. WE MUST KEEP THE PRESSURE ON!

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