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 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.