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LIU Brooklyn to lock out faculty amid union contract dispute

A contract dispute between the union representing LIU Brooklyn faculty and the university’s administration has led to a planned lockout and threats for picketing, just as the fall semester is set to begin.

The university plans to lock out faculty beginning at midnight Saturday, LIU’s university counsel Gail Haynes said.

Officials of the Long Island University Faculty Federation said the news comes after the final scheduled negotiation session for a new union contract failed Wednesday.

The contract dispute stems largely from an alleged pay disparity between faculty at LIU Brooklyn and LIU Post’s Brookville campus, said Deborah Mutnick, English professor and union spokeswoman.

In the university statement, administrators did not address the pay disparity issue but said the Brooklyn campus pay was fair and outpaced peer institutions.

“The proposals set forth by the union to date would compromise the university’s ability to limit tuition costs for students and their families,” officials said.

University spokeswoman Jennifer Solomon wrote in an email that it was the first time the school had instituted a lockout in response to a dispute. School officials were anticipating a faculty strike, she said.

“The university has asked the faculty to ratify a contract before returning to work to ensure an uninterrupted academic experience for its students,” she wrote.

The lockout would not affect the first day of classes scheduled for Wednesday, school administrators said in a statement. University officials said they were open to continuing negotiations with the faculty union, despite the lockout.

Union officials said they plan to picket outside the campus at Flatbush and DeKalb Avenues on Wednesday. The union will meet Tuesday to vote on a contract and a possible strike if an agreement is not reached, Mutnick said.

“We’ve never had anything like this before,” English professor Maria McGarrity said. “It’s shocking and horrifying. I literally just finished prepping my courses, and now we’re told we can’t teach.”

The two groups attempted to resolve the pay issue through arbitration in the spring and summer. That issue then became a sticking point in the contract negotiations as the existing contract’s Aug. 31 expiration date approached.

“We’ve seen very little movement on their part,” Mutnick said. “They brought a proposal for rectifying the disparity in salary and we think it’s inadequate.”

Union faculty said the university’s proposal would eliminate a long-standing pay-parity clause, institute a post-tenure review system and curtail benefits for part-time adjunct faculty. In a statement, union officials also accused the university of “advertising for replacement workers” and “unilaterally canceling classes.”

LIUFF said it now joins a group of four other campus unions — representing carpenters, secretaries and office workers, engineers and building maintenance workers and janitorial staff — without a contract with the university.

On Aug. 11, a group of public officials, including Brooklyn borough president Eric L. Adams, sent a signed letter to university president Kimberly Cline, urging the university to restore negotiations for the four unions and end the pay disparity.

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