IC Contingent Faculty Strike Update
The game that the administration has been playing with the Contingent Faculty Union in the last bargaining sessions is a classic example of what biologists call “aggressive mimicry.” In its public statements, the administration assumes the mask of an eminently reasonable, patient and level-headed bargaining partner who has only the best interests of the college at heart and is forever “surprised” and “disappointed” by the inexplicable recalcitrance of the Contingent Faculty Union. The actual face under that mask, however – which only comes out at the bargaining table – belongs to a predatory employer who is determined to keep contingent faculty at IC trapped in our current state of perpetual fear, insecurity and poverty by gutting our modest proposals for wages and job security. What the administration offers in return are ornamental token improvements that would do little to address the existential problems at stake for contingent faculty. In effect, what they offer are band-aids for flesh wounds.
Contrary to the claims of the college, it is the Contingent Faculty Union that has been the flexible and accommodating party in the bargaining process. Over the course of bargaining, we have moved drastically toward the administration in our proposals for compensation and job security, while they have reciprocated with microscopic gestures, the principal object of which is to lure us closer and closer to their bargain-basement model of a contract. In trying to reach a fair deal, we have agreed to the help of a federal mediator. At the bargaining sessions on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, we made offers through the mediator that represented significant movement on our parts. Once again, the administration’s only response to our attempts at compromise was a clear and resounding NO.
We decided to call for a strike because we refuse to play this sordid game any longer. We call for a strike because we have learned the hard way that we will have to win a strong contract away from the bargaining table. We call for a strike because we have recognized that the administration does not intend to offer any genuine and serious improvements to the miserable working conditions of the 40% of the faculty at IC who are contingent. These working conditions are our students’ learning conditions, so by continuing to hurt the contingent faculty, the Ithaca College administration is hurting our students as well.
In its commitment to exploitation, the administration is undermining the ostensible “commitment to excellence” emblazoned on the shield of the college. As we have pointed out to the administration over and over again, our proposals would be easily achievable within the organizational structure and budgetary confines of the institution. What we are asking for is a modicum of job security for full-time contingent faculty and less than half a percent of the budget to attain pay parity for part-time faculty. Why is this impossible? Why is it unreasonable?
Since we have received no answer to these questions from the administration, we turn to the Ithaca College Community – the real stakeholders of this institution. We invite you to join us on the picket lines on March 28 and 29 to support the priorities of teachers and students at IC over those of a clueless and dysfunctional administration!
The IC Contingent Faculty Bargaining Committee