NCC adjuncts suspend strike

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. (Sept. 12, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

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The adjunct faculty union at Nassau Community College is suspending its strike immediately and will return to the negotiating table with college officials early next week, the union president said Friday.

Both sides have scheduled a meeting for Wednesday at 8:15 p.m. at an off-campus location that is to be announced.

All members are expected to go to their classes and teach until further notice, Adjunct Faculty Association president Charles Loiacono said.

The back-to-work advisory, posted on the union's website, came less than 24 hours after NCC's acting president, Kenneth Saunders, told the adjuncts that they could lose their jobs if they did not return to work on Monday.

Under the state's Taylor Law, which forbids strikes by public employees, adjuncts are fined two days' pay for every day they do not work.

It was unclear how many classes were canceled Friday because of the strike. College officials, who had advised students to continue to come to classes, said they still were actively taking attendance. Classes after 5 p.m. were not held in observance of Yom Kippur.

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NCC, with 24,000 students, is the largest single-campus community college in the state. The adjunct faculty union represents about 3,000 part-time, nontenured professors and instructors.

Union members began picketing Monday afternoon after the college's board of trustees did not approve a contract proposal that the union said would have raised their pay by 4.9 percent annually. The union has been working without a contract since 2010. It is the first time the union has gone on strike since 1982.

The rejected eight-year plan would have had a nearly $64 million cumulative cost to the college.

On Friday, Saunders said representatives of the college's board of trustees and the administration will be prepared "to engage in serious negotiations toward reaching an agreement" at Wednesday's meeting.

Loiacono, in announcing the strike's suspension, said the college "now seems serious about negotiations."

"Unfortunately, it took a strike and the involvement of the county executive to be serious and come to the negotiating table," he said.

Loiacono has said he brokered the earlier proposed pact with County Executive Edward Mangano's office, asserting that NCC trustees were not bargaining in good faith.

Several NCC trustees told Newsday that the proposed contract was negotiated by Mangano's office. The outside labor counsel for Mangano's office, however, has said that the county "did not make any deal" but "simply encouraged the communications of both sides to avoid a strike that would greatly affect countless faculty and Nassau students."

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The college's annual operating budget is more than $200 million, with funds coming from tuition, the county and state aid.

NCC adjuncts are paid between $1,090 and $1,750 per credit hour. The average adjunct teaches six credit hours per semester.

Saunders said Thursday that more than 90 percent of classes were in session.

The college's data show that 125 adjuncts out of the total number of 1,231 adjuncts who are teaching in the fall semester are participating in the strike, Saunders said then.

Loiacono disputed those numbers, saying the number of the adjuncts participating in the strike was higher. He said the union had no way of tracking the participation.

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