WASHINGTON—Without a contract settlement, administrators at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus in New York have locked out their 400 faculty members in an unprecedented hostile move that will upend the start of classes on Wednesday, the Long Island University Faculty Federation said today.
“The university has a history of paying its Brooklyn faculty less than the university’s Nassau County faculty, despite the fact that tuition is the same for its students. Further, the university wants to further exploit its part-time faculty—making it virtually impossible to hire qualified part-time faculty—eliminate the adjunct benefit trust fund, reduce fringe benefits for new full-time hires and initiate a post-tenure review,” said Jessica Rosenberg, LIUFF president.
“Now, rather than address the equity issues in a meaningful way, which is a New York higher education tradition, they are locking their faculty out—on Labor Day weekend no less,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the LIUFF’s parent union.
Currently, nearly half of the Brooklyn faculty are paid less than their LIU Post (Nassau County campus) counterparts, some by as much as 20 percent, yet both campuses charge the same tuition— $32,000 a year—and faculty credentials are equivalent. LIU insists on reaching parity between the two campuses by 2020. The union wants to reach parity earlier, by 2019.
The Brooklyn faculty union’s contract expired on Friday, Sept. 2. The university locked out the faculty at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, cut off their health insurance and threatened to replace faculty with administration staffers.
“This is not a strike—the faculty is not withholding its labor. The university chose to lock out the faculty and stop students from getting instruction from qualified faculty because it won’t agree on contract terms for fair wages and working conditions,” Rosenberg said. “We will not allow ourselves to be bullied and intimidated by an administration that has demonstrated it has no respect for our educators and students.”
Weingarten said the university’s move shows contempt for its students and their faculty. “Long Island University’s hostile action to lock out faculty rather than deal with the fact that it pays its Brooklyn faculty less than their counterparts is a slap in the face to its students and their teachers. The university would rather act like a tough guy and bully its faculty than meet its academic obligation to its students and confront a moral obligation to not pay one set of educators less than another. It's contemptuous,” she said.
New York State United Teachers President Karen E. Magee expressed support for the Brooklyn faculty members. “It is unconscionable to see, on the eve of Labor Day no less, the administration’s use of tactics that could undercut faculty rights and jeopardize the college’s educational program,” she said.