April 06, 2017

LIU faculty find warmth in union solidarity

Source: NYSUT Communications
liu rally
Caption: LIU Faculty Federation president Jessica Rosenberg (left) leads activists in a chant at today's rally. Photo by Carl Korn.

Biting rain and hypothermia-inducing cold drew unionists from across the state closer — both literally and figuratively — in support of the Long Island University Brooklyn Faculty Federation’s quest for a fair contract.

Months after the first-ever higher education lockout of faculty — and after 14 months of fitful bargaining — LIU Brooklyn Faculty Federation President Jessica Rosenberg said there are glimmers of hope at the bargaining table. “This has been a brutal season for LIU faculty,” she told about 150 shivering activists huddled together for warmth at a rally Thursday. “There is only movement at the table because we are united. Stay with us.”

NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta — joined by Vice President Paul Pecorale and Secretary-Treasurer Martin Messner — noted that dozens of NYSUT activists rode the subway to the rally after arriving in New York City from upstate communities like Saratoga Springs, Saranac Lake and the Buffalo area. "Your fight is our fight. We are standing in solidarity with you. We are with you."

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said that when unionists rally — especially in driving rain and cold — it “sends a big message to LIU” — that the union is willing to “wage a righteous and virtuous fight” for a fair contract, including equity with faculty at LIU’s Long Island campus; better pay and working conditions for adjuncts; academic freedom; and better access to higher education for students.

United University Professions President Fred Kowal framed the LIU Brooklyn faculty’s fight for a fair contract as a “struggle for justice and struggle for wisdom,” noting the two are tied together. He said UUP’s long fight to save SUNY Downstate Hospital, also in Brooklyn, mirrored LIUFF’s battle and threw the strong support of more than 40,000 UUP members behind the LIU Brooklyn Faculty Federation. UUP represents academic and professional faculty at the State University of New York.

Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen said LIU Brooklyn’s lockout of faculty at the start of the semester sent shock waves across the world of academia. She said the “whole world is watching” and sent a message to LIU Brooklyn President Kimberly Cline. “We are all united, demanding that you negotiate — not impose — a fair contract.”