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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

May 29, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Commentary: Labor lawsuit against college remains active

As a bargaining committee, we are excited to have won a first contract with substantial improvements for contingent faculty at IC — a contract we achieved through taking collective action as one college community. Still, we must be clear that all is not well for contingent faculty at Ithaca College. Specifically, we remain outraged that three members of the full-time bargaining committee have been fired in retaliation for their union activity: Rachel Gunderson, Dave Kornreich and Shoshe Cole. Despite having served at the college for many years, and having received consistently excellent student reviews, our colleagues were targeted for having the bravery to speak up on behalf both of IC contingent faculty and the quality of their students’ education.

The contingent faculty union is not backing down on this issue. Labor board charges have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that our administration fired these members for their union activity. We have requested to bargain with the administration over these unjust firings, as well as those of any other full-time contingent faculty who have been let go. Thus far, we have not heard back from the administration.

By now, many members of the IC community have become aware of the problems of contingency. Never knowing if we will be brought back from one year to another makes it hard to plan our lives and fully support our students and our families. The bargaining committee members who were let go are the faculty who sacrificed the most in the fight for more security. They have dedicated their personal time, resources and expertise to fight for justice at Ithaca College. Ironically, while they were successful in creating a more secure Ithaca College for others through our tentative Contingent Faculty Contract, they themselves fell victim to the system they fought so hard to change. This is a wrong we intend to right.

While we hope to hear back from the administration soon, we will simultaneously be looking into the conduct of our administrators — in particular, of Vice President Nancy Pringle and Provost Linda Petrosino — in relation to these unjust firings. You can help with our investigation by letting us know of other full-time contingent faculty members who were not brought back, and by forwarding any information you can provide on this matter.

We will fight to secure fairness for our friends and colleagues who fought so hard for us. We will not rest until justice is served for all members of the Ithaca College Community, be it contingent faculty, continuing faculty, students or staff. We call on our colleagues and students to come together again, as we have done so powerfully during this fight, to demand justice for our fired colleagues. Together, we can continue to make a better IC.