NCC adjuncts end strike, vow to fight for bargaining switch

Adjunct Faculty Association members, on strike, picket outside Adjunct Faculty Association members, on strike, picket outside the Administrative Building at Nassau Community College in Garden City on Sept. 12, 2013. Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

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Nassau Community College's adjunct faculty union has officially ended its strike, with the group's leaders vowing to lobby county lawmakers to strip negotiating authority from the school's trustees.

Contract negotiations between the college's administration and the Adjunct Faculty Association remain at an impasse over pay raises. The adjuncts have been working without a contract since 2010.

Leaders of the adjunct union, in an open letter, asked Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and members of the legislature to repeal part of Ordinance 307, created in 1977, that gave the college's board the sole responsibility to negotiate with its faculty unions.

"The county's elected officials have the ultimate responsibility to bring reason and sanity to a college that is fraught with conflict," said Charles Loiacono, president of the adjunct union, which represents part-time professors and instructors and has about 3,000 members.

Loiacono led a four-day strike in the second week of September, the first on the Garden City campus since 1982.

The strike -- illegal under the state's Taylor Law, which prohibits job actions by public employees -- led to cancellation of about 10 percent of the classes that week, according to college officials.

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Loiacono suspended the strike on Sept. 13 after NCC's acting president, Kenneth Saunders, told all adjuncts they could lose their jobs and began advertising for substitute professors.

Both sides held a three-hour meeting led by a state-appointed conciliator on Sept. 18. No other negotiations are scheduled.

The college's board chairman, Dr. Jorge Gardyn, and vice chairwoman Kathy Weiss, in their own letter to the legislature, called the union's effort a "recipe for the politicization of the administration."

They said if the county assumes collective bargaining with the faculty unions, it would confront academic, curricular and governance issues.

"Following the AFA's recommendation would be a recipe for a grievous mismatch between contractual provisions and the mission of the college," they said.

Mangano spokeswoman Katie Grilli-Robles, asked whether the county executive would support the union's bid for changing the college's labor negotiating authority, said, "The administration has forwarded their request to labor counsel and are awaiting an opinion."

Under the Taylor Law, the college and the county government are joint employers of the faculty. In Suffolk County, for example, both the college and the county have representatives at the negotiating table with faculty unions at Suffolk County Community College, said Mary Lou Araneo, vice president for institutional advancement at SCCC.

Nearly 24,000 students are enrolled at Nassau Community College.

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