Archive for September, 2016

smiling to cover the LIULockout pain.

Hilary Lorenz with 48 hours to get materials of her LIUBrooklyn studio.

I debated whether to go off topic and post about my distressing return home after an artist residency. I was excited to begin the school year as a Full Professor,  a promotion that took 14 years, 8 of which were post-tenure to  find myself unemployed without a studio,  insurance or access to my office. “It sounds like a story from the Onion” said one friend.
I am not going to rattle on about it. Every major news outlet  has covered the LIU Brooklyn faculty lockout.  Thankfully I have a commission from Brooklyn Bridge Park to keep my mind occupied, but without a studio space it is difficult to work. It is difficult to concentrate  while living in limbo.  I have no idea what will happen, the administration rejected federal mediation.  I do know I will complete my commission, continue making art and evaluate my situation on December 31, 2016.

The following is an update from our union executive committee, it sums up the events well.  If you are in academia or connected to people in academia can you share this with them? No university has ever locked out their faculty; tenured and adjuncts alike.  The lock out will  have reverberating consequences to professors and students alike and negatively impact the entire educational process. I have dedicated the past 20 years of my life to teaching university art students and now it feels like that just vanished.

Dear LIUFF Colleagues,

What started as a labor dispute on the corner of Flatbush and DeKalb Avenues has quickly gone international. We no longer fight just for LIUFF but for the dignity of faculty in higher education in this country.  Across the United States, university presidents are watching us to see if they might try the same tactics with their faculties.  To this we say:  not now, not ever!

Meanwhile, our wonderful students are standing up to President Cline and learning important lessons about organizing and activism.  We have all been overwhelmed and humbled by their support.  Together, students and faculty are the university, and together we will win this fight against a president who does not understand the nature or value of higher education.

On Thursday, the negotiating met with management and made the following offer:  to return to work for a month under the old contract and to submit to mediation after two weeks should we still not have reached an agreement.  The LIUFF’s offer included reinstatement of health care, full wages backdated to the beginning of the lockout, and reimbursement for any medical expenses incurred during the lockout.  Management not only rejected the offer but continues to offer essentially the same contract that has been on the table since April.  They return to the table on Monday at 5 p.m.

We have had a busy week as we continue to put pressure on President Cline and the Board of Trustees:

  • We voted down an unfair and divisive contract by 226 to 10 and the Faculty Senate voted no confidence in President Cline and Vice President Kane by a margin of 135 to 10.
  • We made national and international news.  Coverage can be found in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Guardian, The Brian Lehrer Show, Inside Higher Ed, The Village Voice, The Wall Street Journal, City Watch (WBAI), Academe blog, and local TV news.  
  • We have launched a social media campaign on Twitter and Facebook–#LIUlockout–that has gotten our message out widely.  A petition started by the AFT Action Network has gathered almost 8,000 signatures, each one of which generates an email to President Cline.  LIU students have started a change.org petition that has so far gathered over 600 signatures.
  • We have many labor unions standing with us.  This unprecedented lockout is not only an assault on education but also an attack on organized labor, and we are receiving tremendous support from our parent organizations, the AFT and NYSUT. The UFT is giving resources and sent delegations to our campus as did the vocal and mighty PSC CUNY. Our sister unions on campus–the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 30; OPEIU Local 153; Service Employees International Union (SEIU) CTW, Local 32BJ; and United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, Local 926 and Local 45—marched with us and sent letters of support.  At the annual Labor Day Parade on September 10, LIUFF was given pride of place and marched right behind Mayor DeBlasio and other elected officials.
  • We held a rally featuring speakers like Public Advocate Letitia James, AFT President Randi Weingarten, and NYSUT President Karen McGee. We heard from students about the chaos on campus (despite what the administration says to the press about an “overwhelmingly positive response” from students) and watched as the students marched in solidarity with the LIUFF.
  • We learned that as a result of the chaos: the School of Nursing has cancelled practicum classes until further notice; lab classes in Biology, Physics, and Chemistry have been cancelled all next week pending a resolution to the lockout, and students are reporting that many classes have no instructors at all.
  • We sent letters to accrediting agencies, cosigned by AFT, alerting them to our situation.  Our attorney has also filed a NLRB charge for unfair labor practices stemming from the way the lockout was handled, a charge that, if upheld, would require the university to pay back wages and expenses.

We have also heard many stories about the financial hardship this lockout is causing our members.  In response, the AFT has set up a solidarity fund where people can donate to help our members with pressing financial concerns. They have already begun to raise money and more information on how to apply for funds will be forthcoming in the next few days.  In addition, NYSUT can give legal advice to faculty and students.

This week has proven that you CANNOT REPLACE AN ENTIRE FACULTY! The negotiating team heads back to the table on Monday from a position of strength, but we need the membership’s help to keep up this momentum and end the lockout! We need you to commit to coming out every day so that we remain a strong presence at the Brooklyn campus.

Please stay tuned for a list of events planned for this week.  Your participation is both expected and essential.

In solidarity,
The LIUFF Executive Committee


Scabby the Rat, with Danny Lou (LIU alum in support of faculty) myself and Professor Bob Barry

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