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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

May 29, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

College sends information on union strike to campus constituents

The afternoon of March 10, President Tom Rochon sent an email to the student body with information about what would happen at Ithaca College in the event of a strike. Faculty and staff also received an email with information about the possible strike from an email address strikeinfo@ithaca.edu.

On March 9, the contingent faculty unions announced they would strike on March 28 and 29 if the college does not settle a contract that meets their demands by then.

The letter to students

Dear Students:

As you may have heard, Ithaca College has been in contract negotiations with part-time, per-course faculty and year-to-year full-time faculty bargaining units, each of which is represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). On March 9, 2017, the union announced a potential two-day strike on March 28 and 29, in the event that the contract issues cannot be resolved in the interim. An additional bargaining date is currently scheduled for March 15, and the college hopes to resolve outstanding matters with the union as quickly as possible.

I am writing to provide you with more detailed information in the event that negotiations are not successful and a strike does occur.

First and foremost, the college will remain open. We will be as flexible as possible in helping you navigate the logistics of the strike and receive the educational experience you expect.

Below is information on the strike and how we plan to minimize any disruptions that it may have on your classes.

How long will the strike last? The union has indicated that it intends to call a two-day strike on March 28 and 29, unless negotiations are successful in the interim. So, we anticipate the potential for the strike to last two days. Ultimately, the union decides whether to call a strike and, if so, when and how long the strike will last. We will work to resolve the issues underlying the strike as quickly as possible.

Will the college remain open? Yes. Ithaca College will remain open and will operate on a normal schedule. This includes dining services, security, athletics, events, extracurricular activities, administrative functions, and the vast majority of classes that are taught by full-time faculty. Should any schedules need to be adjusted, we will promptly communicate those changes to students, faculty, and staff. It is our goal to continue delivering the full educational experience for you during this time.

How will my classes be affected? Classes will be held as scheduled, and you are expected to attend class as dictated by your individual faculty members and their course schedules.

Am I required to attend class if there is a strike? You are expected to attend class in accordance with the attendance policy stated in the syllabi for your courses. We will make every effort to compensate for any faculty member’s absence from class by scheduling make-up class(es), hosting some classes online, arranging for another faculty member to conduct the class(es), or providing other suitable academic activities for students, if necessary.

Please contact Danette Johnson, vice provost, at 607-274-3435 or strikeinfo@ithaca.edu to ask specific questions and receive support regarding any of your classes that may be affected by the strike.

What is the college doing to ensure the strike has the least amount of disruption? First, the college is working with the union and a federal mediator to negotiate agreements and avoid the potential strike that has been announced. If a strike occurs, we will do everything possible to ensure there is minimal disruption to your educational experience. For classes taught by faculty who choose not to participate in a strike, there should be no impact on you. For classes taught by faculty who choose to participate in the strike, we will provide information to you about changes and/or modifications.

Will the strike affect the college’s satellite campuses? The bargaining units only include faculty at the Ithaca, New York, campus. They do not include faculty at the satellite campuses in Los Angeles, London, or New York City. Therefore, classes should continue as scheduled at these locations.

Can I participate in the strike? We fully respect the free-speech rights of our students, staff, and faculty. No one is obligated to support or oppose a possible strike. However, we will adhere to attendance policies as articulated in course syllabi. Media and reporters may be present on campus prior to or during strike activities. If you are asked for an interview, it is your choice whether to participate.

How will this affect my financial aid or scholarship? As long as the college remains open and courses are completed during the semester, there will be no impact on student financial aid eligibility. More information on financial aid policies can be found on the Financial Aid and Billing website ithaca.edu/finaid. If you have additional questions, please contact the Office of Student Financial Services at 800-429-4275 or 607-274-3131 and ask to speak with an assistant director.

As always, the college’s top priority is offering the highest quality education for our students.

We will keep you updated as events unfold. If you have any specific questions about the strike or how you may be affected, please contact Danette Johnson, vice provost, at 607-274-3435 or strikeinfo@ithaca.edu.

You can also visit ithaca.edu/union for more frequently asked questions and the latest updates regarding negotiations.

Sincerely,

Thomas R. Rochon
President

The letter to faculty and staff

To Ithaca College Faculty and Staff:

As you may have heard, Ithaca College has been in contract negotiations with part-time, per-course faculty and year-to-year full-time faculty bargaining units, each of which is represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). On March 9, 2017, the union announced a potential two-day strike date of March 28 and 29, 2017, in the event that the contract issues cannot be resolved in the interim. An additional bargaining date is currently scheduled for March 15, and the college hopes to resolve outstanding matters with the union as quickly as possible.

Ithaca College recognizes and values the very important role all faculty and staff play in shaping our students’ experience, both in and out of the classroom. We seek to continue delivering the very best education for our students and, with your help, we remain confident we can do so. 

We are writing to provide information on what a strike means for you and for our campus, classes, and students. Additional information, including answers to frequently asked questions and the progress of negotiations, can be found at ithaca.edu/union

Classes and Work

  • Students will be expected to attend classes during the strike, and they have received a message informing them about this and other matters affecting them. That message is available for you to view at ithaca.edu/union
  • All college operations will continue as normal. This includes classes and all other college operations such as athletics, extracurricular activities, dining services, events, administrative functions, and campus security.
  • Faculty and staff are expected to maintain their usual teaching and work schedules. 
  • In the event faculty are unable to teach on campus, they may teach classes remotely via an online platform. Faculty members must discuss this option with their respective deans before doing so.
  • As with any other time off, staff who choose not to come to work during a faculty strike will be expected to notify their supervisors and submit vacation or personal time according to college time-off policies
  • If you are a staff member and have concerns or questions about how the strike may affect you or your work, you are encouraged to contact Brian Dickens, vice president for human resources, at HRstrikeinfo@ithaca.edu or 607-274-8000. 
  • If you are a faculty member and have concerns or questions about how the strike may affect your work, please contact Danette Johnson, vice provost, at strikeinfo@ithaca.edu or 607-274-3435.

Strike Activity and Picketing

  • The college supports and protects free expression by all members of our community and does not take action to limit or restrict the freedom of speech or peaceful assembly.
  • As is outlined in the Rules for the Maintenance of Public Order, any conduct that would constitute “intentional disruption or obstruction of teaching, guest lectures, research, administration, free movement, disciplinary proceedings, or other college activities” is not permitted. All entrances and egresses to buildings and doorways must remain accessible and cannot be impeded or blocked. Roadways must also remain accessible, and all laws regarding traffic and pedestrian safety must be followed. 
  • Solicitation is governed by the college’s solicitation policy

We will keep you updated as events unfold. Once again, if you have questions or concerns not addressed here or at ithaca.edu/union, we encourage staff to contact Brian Dickens at HRstrikeinfo@ithaca.edu or 607-274-8000, and faculty to contact Danette Johnson at strikeinfo@ithaca.edu or 607-274-3435.

Thank you for everything you do to ensure the highest-quality educational environment for our students.