After nine years of protracted negotiations, the newly formed Cayuga Community College Part Time Faculty Association has ratified its first contract.
“It’s been a long time coming, but we finally have a contract,” said Carolyn Stevenson, president of the CCCPTFA.
Stevenson said the union of adjunct faculty and non-teaching employees – 200 strong at the time – first requested voluntary recognition of their newly formed union from the Cayuga CC in 2014, which was denied by the administration. The college attempted to merge them in with the already-established Cayuga Community College Faculty Association. Stevenson said they took their case to the state Public Employment Relations Board who agreed that the part time staff had the right to form their own bargaining unit. Union cards were signed for a second time in 2016 and the local began to hammer out a contract deal in earnest, Stevenson said.
COVID–19 stalled discussions and created more upheaval, with adjuncts being among the first to lose their courseloads, and therefore wages, during shutdown.
The resulting contract, finally signed in April, offers much to celebrate, including a lump sum payout for many employees who lost courses during the coronavirus pandemic and a formal grievance procedure, said Stevenson. However, the union and the college were unable to come to terms on several other issues, including pay rate and seniority, which Stevenson noted the union intends to tackle in both the labor/management committee structure along with the next round of negotiations. The recently enacted contract expires at the end of July in 2024.
In the meantime, the ratification has energized union membership and drawn new members to their ranks. “The process of getting this completed has finally brought some new people into the fold. There are already people coming in with promising ideas and energy,” Stevenson said. In fact, one adjunct instructor, who recently received the stipend increase considered the additional monies “a miracle” as she is dealing with cancer.
“Already our union is making a difference in the lives of our members, which is what this entire effort was all about in the first place,” Stevenson noted.