Full-time faculty at C.W. Post went on strike on the morning of September 7th, in response to a said walk out on contract negotiations by the University’s administration on the evening of Tuesday, September 6th.
The disagreement between the two parties involves a wage proposal on behalf of the administration that, according to CWPCF.org, offered a 0% increase in salary this year, a 2% lump sum payment in addition to their current salary for the following two years, and a possible wage increase of their base salary at the end of the third year if gross tuition revenue exceeds 5% of the previous year. Also, in the 4th and 5th year of the contract, the faculty’s base salary would be increased by 2%.
Dissatisfied with these terms, the C.W. Post Collegial Federation (CWPCF), the faculty union, comprised of approximately 300 full-time professors, came back with an alternative proposal outlining a 0% salary increase in the first year, with a 3.5% base salary increase for the following two years. (CWPCF.org)
In response to the strike, the C.W. Post Provost, Paul Forestell, wrote a letter to the student body detailing University protocol during the strike, as well as offering many reasons as to why the administration did not reach a compromise with the faculty union by the start of the new semester. The proposal submitted by the University during negotiations was, as Forestell describes, “designed to minimize tuition increases, to preserve student scholarships, to improve facilities, and to maintain equitable compensation rates for all our faculty and staff.” (LIU.edu)
A letter addressed to students on the CWPCF website states, “We offered to accept a wage freeze for this year, and were willing to keep working towards a fair and equitable resolution. Yet, the administration walked away from the bargaining table”. However, when asked about the walk out, Provost Forestell commented, “Negotiations continued on the basis of evidence of good progress, and the University always made it clear that we were available for continued discussion.”
On Wednesday morning, members of the faculty union began picketing at both campus gates. Most of the signs worn by the faculty detailed information regarding their cause and affiliations with labor unions, such as NYSUT and the American Federation of Teachers. Other signage contained messages directed at the administration.
Though a large portion of the staff was on strike last week, some classes still met. According the University’s website, “During the first two days of the semester, more than 70% of our classes have met”. The website also indicates that this has been made possible because many courses at C.W. Post are taught by adjunct faculty who are a part of a separate union.
Many classes during the first week of school were full for only a short period of time until students felt it was a safe assumption that class was cancelled, even though signs on each doorway reading “All Classes Are In Session” indicated otherwise. Some students still hadn’t had any classes as of Friday, September 9th, and have expressed that this could have a negative impact on their educations. Ashley Babst, commented, “If we lose a semester, then I’m probably going to be pushed into my 6th year.” Others feel that waiting until this point in the year to reach an agreement is irresponsible. Allie Heisner, a junior childhood education major, said, “I think they should have figured this out before school started. Considering the amount of money we pay at this school, we should be able to go to class.”
C.W. Post Collegial Federation President, Harvey Kushner, expressed that the faculty is on the same page as its students and understands its frustrations. “We know what you’re going through; we had the same feelings as you do. We look at you like you’re our extended family. Understand that we have your best interests in mind, and in the long run, it’s going to be a better institution.”
On Saturday, September 10, the University’s website posted information regarding the strike, indicating that negotiations had resumed, and as of Sunday, September 11, both parties have come to an agreement on a five year contract, putting full-time faculty back in the classroom as of Monday, September 12. Fortunately, both parties involved in this disagreement came to an amicable solution, and feelings of normalcy can once again permeate throughout the student body at C.W. Post.