Editorial: Keep politicians out of NCC contract talks

Adjunct Faculty Association members picket outside the Administrative Adjunct Faculty Association members picket outside the Administrative Building at Nassau Community College in Garden City. (Sept. 11, 2013) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Having failed in August to rig its contract negotiations with Nassau Community College by trying to engineer the selection of a sympathetic new president, and then, a month later, fumbling an attempt to rush a trustee vote to get big pay raises, the adjunct faculty now wants to bypass the school's administration altogether.

The Adjunct Faculty Association is seeking to have a local law repealed so it can negotiate directly with county officials a month before elections take place. The AFA tried this move once before, in 2001, another year when races for county executive and the legislature took place. The association failed then, as it should now.

AFA head Charles Loiacono wants County Executive Edward Mangano and the legislature to repeal an ordinance that clearly states NCC trustees are "solely responsible" for collective bargaining. Signed by County Executive Ralph Caso in 1977, the law was part of a movement statewide to insulate two-year colleges from politics.

Loiacono's maneuver comes after a failed strike last month. He called it after being thwarted in his attempt to get a contract. At first, he wanted an eight-year contract with pay increases of almost 5 percent a year. A somewhat scaled-down union proposal calls for raises totaling 19.6 percent over four years, with three of those years retroactive. Such raises would deplete the college's reserve fund and could lead to a bump up in tuition.

Besides the risk that politicians could give away the store in an election year, even more damage could be done. Complex work rules are part of any collective bargaining, and the AFA contract is explicit about which level of faculty members can teach certain courses, as well as when particular courses can be offered. These rules all have academic and financial consequences. That's why college administrators who understand the details should be at the table.

Mangano and legislators should rebuff the latest AFA power plays.

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