We last reported to you in June about our concern that management's bargaining team had unilaterally attempted to change language in several articles that had already been agreed upon by both parties, a move which we believed constituted a failure on the College's part to negotiate in good faith and, as such, a violation of Federal labor law. We also told you of our decision to file an "Unfair Labor Practice" about this violation with the National Labor Relations Board. (See http://www.nyorganizing.org/MVille/062613.htm for the details). Subsequently, many of you signed a letter to President Strauss informing him of adjunct faculty and tutors' concerns about this matter, and urging him to direct the College's bargaining team to return to the bargaining table in good faith.
We are pleased to now be able to tell you that with the help of the National Labor Relations Board, we were able to settle this dispute with the College. The Labor Board agent had explained to us that if the College had a demonstrable reason for needing to change previously agreed upon language in the articles under dispute, it was permissible for them to propose alternative language. Obviously, if legitimate financial or operating circumstances warranted a need for management to change to already agreed-upon language, we have no interest in arguing over those changes. However, the Labor Board agent also explained that if the College was changing previously agreed-upon articles merely to turn back the bargaining process, that's illegal. Recently -- at the suggestion of the Labor Board agent investigating our charges -- our union representatives, Julie Berman and Daniel Esakoff, had several meetings with two members of management's bargaining team, Professor Lenora Boelhert (who took over as the lead negotiator for management in March) and Don Dean (Mville's Director of Human Resources) to discuss the various articles in question.
In a few instances, Daniel and Julie felt that the College had changed language in an effort to turn back the process or to bully the adjunct and tutor Union. Our representatives did not allow that to happen. In a handful of instances, Julie and Daniel felt that language changes proposed by Mville's was based on legitimate reasons and agreed with the changes. (For example, staff reductions in the HR office necessitates additional time for the department to furnish the Union with bargaining unit information in certain semesters). In some other instances everyone felt that the agreed-upon language was unnecessarily detailed or redundant and so they made appropriate changes.
As a result of these discussions, we are soon to "sign off on" fourteen tentative agreements including articles on the grievance and arbitration procedure, department meetings and full-time vacancies, and personnel files.
The next step is getting back to the bargaining table to focus on finishing up the rest of our first collective bargaining agreement. There are several articles we think both sides are close to agreeing to (for example, a Labor-Management Committee) and then several articles both sides remain far apart on (for example, wages and ranks).
Though we believe everything in the contract is important, we know that addressing the longtime pay inequities is something that almost all Mville adjunct faculty and tutors believe is of the highest priority and we do not disagree. To that end (and now that our Unfair Labor Practice charge against management has been withdrawn) we are refocusing on reaching out to all of you. Attached to this email you will find a membership form for the Union -- if you have not yet joined the union we encourage you to do so as soon as possible. We will be contacting everyone shortly with more information about upcoming negotiation dates and other opportunities to get involved and easy things you can do to help ensure we win a fair contract for all Mville adjunct faculty and tutors as soon as possible.
Please contact any of us with your questions, concerns, and suggestions. Or call Daniel or Julie directly at 212-989-3470.
On Behalf of the Bargaining Committee of the Union of Adjunct Faculty and Tutors at Manhattanville,
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Union of Adjunct Faculty and Tutors at Manhattanville / NYSUT / AFT / NEA / AFL-CIO