This past weekend, members of the NCCFT attended the 37th annual NYSUT Community College Conference “Reframing the Narrative” in Cooperstown, NY. This conference is always an informative event with a large selection of workshops held on timely issues facing community colleges. In addition, this conference allowed us to network with other NYS community college union colleagues.
“Reclaiming the Union Narrative” was a workshop that responded to today’s anti-labor environment and initiatives. It is more important than ever to empower ourselves and critical to educate new members on becoming involved as strong union members. Although there are elected officers in each local, we are all the union.
Members of our group in attendance were:
Joseph Bernat, Darleen Braunshweiger, Carmine DeSanto, Debra DeSanto, Zia Durrani, Caroline Falconetti, Frank Frisenda, Kathleen Gallagher, Donna Hope, Phyllis Kurland, Lynn Mazzola, Jean Miller, Dawn Smith and Jim Young.
Those in attendance selected and participated in sessions of interest such as Community Colleges Finances, Establishing and Retaining Faculty Rights in Distance Education, Negotiations, Legal Updates, Vote Cope and Contract Exchanges to name only a few of the workshops offered.
VP Frank Frisenda spoke on the value of contributing to Vote Cope. It was noted that Frank, as Community College VOTE-COPE Coordinator, has increased membership by 6 percent this year.
The ED 39 congratulated President DeSanto on her upcoming retirement and thanked her for her years of dedicated service as a union activist and leader.
Once again all of our members in attendance commented that they walked away with more knowledge and a greater understanding and appreciation on the value of standing united. So to those of you who wish to become involved by serving on union committees, please join us by calling Audrey at 2-7198. We stand strong when we are united.
The NCCFT Executive Committee
Dr. Astrab, the former President of Nassau Community College, attempted to impose upon us a business model that was the antithesis of everything the NCCFT membership symbolized. He put together an Administration to craft new interpretations of our CBA, to create a shadow governance structure, to eliminate the Chair of the Academic Senate from the Board of the Foundation and to generate a budget that eliminated approximately 60 temporary F/T lines. The NCCFT brought the College to the Public Employees Relation Board (PERB) and won the case whereby temporary lines entering their fifth consecutive semester are converted to probationary status. We continued discussions with the Administration and were able to reduce the number of lost temporary lines by half. The Academic Chairs and Academic Senate Executive Committee held countless meetings in an attempt to educate Dr. Astrab on the value of collaboration. The ASEC even had to impose their long dormant policies for over-riding ill-conceived vetoes of Senate resolutions. These and other issues finally culminated in the Chairs Vote of No Confidence, the Senate Vote of No Confidence and the NCCFT membership Vote of No Confidence in Dr. Astrab. The membership attended BOT meetings and brought countless examples of Dr. Astrab’s policies that would cause chaos and disaster, not only on the letter, but in spirit and intent. Our commitment to our CBA, in no small part, resulted in the BOT accepting Dr. Astrab’s resignation.
Our CBA is unique in the SUNY system insofar as it represents mature, thoughtful complexity and comprehensive inclusions. One critical inclusion is Section 20, which describes the responsibilities and powers of the Academic Senate. When Dr. Astrab resigned, the NCCFT remained cautiously optimistic of a return to collaboration. Almost immediately, it became clear no such return was happening. Like a deer, the antlers were removed, only to grow back. Dr. Astrab’s entire administrative team was still in place. His vision of administrative authority, a disdain for the CBA and a disdain for collaboration, especially within the shared governance structure which has been held as a model for higher education across the nation, is still evident today.
We witness this disdain in the Administration’s attempts at interfering with the responsibilities of the Promotion and Tenure committee, violations and grievances of the CBA, violations of the AAO procedures, refusal to allow the Chair of the Academic Senate a seat on the Foundation, draconian applications of the computer-use policy and Area Deans (permanent, acting and interim) working at odds with the areas they are expected to advocate for. The latest, most disturbing practice is the administration’s creation of a “consensus statement” and a “college statement”. Obviously, the honeymoon with a very affable Dr. Dolan has come to an end. Not only did he veto the Academic Senate resolution of the DevEd Committee resolution, he generated a new paradigm. In his veto explanation letter to the Senate, he refers to the Senate and Administration as though these are separate entities. Now, when the Administration does not agree with the faculty and students on the Senate, they will issue their own resolution to the BOT for approval and implementation. This “college statement” was executed contrary to the established by-laws of the Academic Senate. In addition, the tone of his letter projects more interest in asserting administrative authority than the merits of the administration’s “college statement”.
The NCCFT Executive Committee (including our NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist), the Chairs and the ASEC have been meeting on a regular basis to address these issues. We will continue to discuss these issues with NYSUT Legal, NYSUT HQ and with the other NYSUT Community College locals. We have a new NCCFT PAC Chair, Prof. Christine Tuaillon and she is establishing a relationship with our local and state elected leaders in order to bring our message to them.
Finally, we have received 105 retirement letters in total from August 31 and December 31, 2015. The Administration asserts that the December retirees have the ability to change their mind although the CBA wording states “irrevocable”. As a result, the Administration gave the Chairs a list of criteria to follow to rationalize any FT replacements. The Administration will not decide on FT replacements until January 4, 2016. They cite financial uncertainty for this position in case a portion of these announced retirees change their mind and stay. The College indicated the cost of the retirements will be about $13,000,000. This is based on ZERO replacements. They assert they will need to bond $7,500,000 and pay this back with interest over two years. The loan and the remaining deficit will have to come from the Operating Budget of the College. The Administration claims this is a crisis because they thought they had ten years to pay off the bond, not two years as demanded by NIFA. However, if 105 faculty remained and never retired, the college averages our salary/benefits at $130,000 each per year.
So: 105 x $130,000 = $13,650,000
Therefore, if no one retired it will still cost the college the same amount of money. How did they plan to pay these faculty members if they did not retire? Would there still be a crisis or is this fabricated in an effort to “right-size” the campus?
We must galvanize ourselves to support the FT Faculty, who are the heart and soul of the College. The NCCFT Executive Committee is calling upon you to communicate your concerns and ideas to your NCCFT, Senate, and any other relevant committee department representatives. We need you to attend the BOT meetings and speak-up or just demonstrate support for your colleagues who are speaking to the BOT where the discussions can become contentious.
The NCCFT Executive Committee
I am Debra De Santo, President of the NCCFT.
Once again I come before you to speak about the need to replace FT lines. There are 105 faculty who opted for the retirement incentive but, if you recall, at the last meeting I discussed all of the other lines that were not replaced since the start of this semester. By our count, the number is significantly higher.
Last week, at the Academic Affairs meeting, once again we heard “no money”. When Dr. Saunders was asked when Chairs and P & B would know how many lines were being replaced, they were told there were budgetary issues and that faculty can still change their minds about retiring so these factors needed to be considered. Things weren’t looking good financially. You can imagine the reactions to these statements.
This incentive was well thought out at the table and we were told (somehow the benchmark was 50 lines) and then lines would be replaced. Yet at recent meetings we are hearing a different story. This was not a one-sided conversation as I discussed at last month’s meeting. We bargained in good faith and these lines need to be replaced. Of course, there is going to be an initial outlay of funds but this was discussed at length during negotiations. We were told that the buyout would be built into the budget. If the college decided to look to borrow money at the County level as you claim you did in the past, then it was your responsibility to get a commitment. Now you state that NIFA refused to bond the incentive at the last minute. At no point was it ever discussed that you were going to borrow money to cover this expense. Everyone knows the County has issues so to expect them to cover this agreement was a poor decision on your part. If you couldn’t cover it internally, then perhaps you should have capped the numbers.
In essence, departments are being pitted against each other to justify why a department that lost 6 lines and another department lost 6 lines — should get the lines. This was just an example; there are departments that lost double digits being pitted against each other.
When I raised the questions about criteria #6 regarding adjuncts and what number the administration feels is the cutoff for courses being taught by adjuncts —I was told there is no number. Why ask the question then?
We discussed last time the benefit to the students with full-time faculty in place. Adjuncts play an important role on campus and many adjuncts are waiting after years of service to apply for a F/T position. Within this particular group of retirees, we are losing two Distinguished Faculty and 17 Chancellor Award recipients just to name a few accomplishments. Let’s give the students the best we have to offer by bringing in talented new F/T faculty to replace these dedicated faculty members who are moving on.
So I ask you — the board –what will you do to maintain the reputation of this institution on behalf of our community and our students?
My name is Dawn Smith. I work in the Center for Students with Disabilities and I’d like to speak to you tonight about the Senate’s Developmental Education resolution on multiple-measures for exemption from taking the placement test.
- I’m upset at Dr. Dolan’s veto of the Dev Ed resolution.
- The BOT asked the Dev Ed committee to submit a resolution that contained multiple measures for exemption from taking the placement test. (this does not place a student in remediation, but just exempts them from taking the Placement test.)
- The committee had many emergency meetings to meet the time-line imposed by the BOT including many subcommittee meetings.
- I was on the math subcommittee. In our subcommittee, data was presented, analyzed, discussed and then used to create recommendations to go to the full Dev Ed committee.
- Each sub-committee made their recommendations to the full committee. After more meetings, much discussion and some changes, including input from faculty, administrator and student members the resolution was voted on. 15 voted for, 2 against.
- It was clear this was to be voted on and sent to the senate as ONE resolution, not three.
- It was then voted on and passed by the full senate.
- It then went to the interim president who VETOED it. However, before it was even vetoed there was an alternate resolution on the agenda for tonight’s meeting.
- The Dev Ed committee’s resolution was more comprehensive and more data driven – it allowed a student to be exempt from one or both portions of the math placement exam.
- And again, we are talking about exemptions, not placing a student into a remedial class. We are allowing the college to gather more information about the student’s skills to help insure the student’s success and retention.
- Also, remember, if a student does place in a remedial class, they can retest if they are within 15 points of passing. They can also take a brush-up class through lifelong learning or take a free on-line brush-up called Advancer.
- I respectfully request that the BOT reverse the Veto and allow the NCC shared governance process to continue.
It is with mixed emotions that I announce my retirement from the full-time faculty of NCC which, of course, encompasses my retirement as NCCFT President. My last day will be December 31, 2015.
This decision did not come about easily. I love the College, I love teaching, and I definitely love union work!
Although I am leaving the full-time faculty, I am not leaving NCC. I will be returning as an adjunct professor in the Administrative Business Technology Department . In addition, I also plan to continue my volunteer work at the NEST and remain active on campus.
Of course, I will be here until the last day advocating for all our members.
If we stand united, we stand strong!
M. Debra DeSanto
If you are registered to vote, please do so on November 3.
Your voice, your vote counts. We need to let all legislators know - WE VOTE! Make a difference! Please, Vote November 3! If you live in Nassau County, please consider voting for the Legislative District representative endorsed by the NCCFT as these are the elected officials who have shown support for NCC. In Solidarity
The NCCFT PAC Committee
Nassau County Legislative District
District 1: Kevan Abrahams District 11: Delia DeRiggi-Whitton
District 2: Siela A. Bynoe District 12: James Kennedy
District 3: Carrie Solages District 13: Norma Gonsalves
District 4: Denise Ford District 14: Laura Schaefer
District 5: Laura Curran District 15: Dennis Dunne, Sr.
District 6: No Endorsement District 16: Judy Jacobs
District 7: Howard J. Kopel District 17: Rose Marie Walker
District 8: Vincent T. Muscarella District 18: Donald N. MacKenzie
District 9: Richard J. Nicolello District 19: Steve Rhoads
District 10: Ellen Birnbaum
As always, September was an action filled month filing grievances for member rights, advocating for member benefits, and answering a daily flood of questions including those pertaining to retirement. Hopefully you have read the NCCFT post about our meeting with Dr. Dolan and our commitment to the need to replace full-time faculty.
Election Buddy is now in place so look for the upcoming announcement regarding the Promotion and Tenure Committee election. This will be the first time the NCCFT is running an electronic election, and we are excited. Petitions for the P&T Committee are available and due back to the NCCFT by noon on October 13. You will be alerted when the ballots and statements are being sent out. Be sure to check your Junk Email if you don’t find it in your Inbox.
Ongoing conversations with Chief Roddini, Dr. Dolan and other Administrators regarding safety issues continue to be a priority. This is an item that should be also addressed at the BOT meeting so we urge concerned members to sign up to speak as we all work together to establish a safety protocol for the campus community that addresses our concerns.
The NCCFT leadership serves on the Presidential Search Committee as well as on the Academic VP search. Meetings for both searches took place this past week. Comments will be shared at the upcoming General Union Meeting.
The NCCFT Executive Committee recently met with several leaders from the student body. The informal meeting was informative and engaging as both sides shared similar concerns impacting both students and faculty at NCC.
We enjoyed meeting with new faculty at the NCCFT New Member luncheon. It is always exciting to see new faculty join the NCCFT, and we welcome them to join our committees.
The NCCFT will continue our support for the NEST through our ongoing effort to collect food, not only at the NCCFT luncheons but also at the upcoming NCCFT General Union Meeting. NCCFT President Debbie DeSanto completed training as a NEST volunteer during the summer. The food pantry is providing a much needed service for the campus community.
Please join us at the next BOT meeting on Tuesday, October 13.
As we stand united, we stand strong.
The NCCFT Executive Committee
NCCFT will be continuing our support of the Nest by once again collecting food and/or money at the NCCFT General Union meeting on October 20, 2015 (CCB- MPR), 11:30 – 1:00.
NEST (Nassau: Empowerment and Support for Tomorrow)
a food pantry at NCC
NCC has many students and employees who are in precarious circumstances.
The NEST is committed to fostering health and well-being by providing nourishment and other vital supports to all members of our campus community. We aim to alleviate the presence of hunger and food insecurity in the lives of our students, employees, and their families. In our effort to fight against hunger, we gather and store basic necessities and distribute them with a compassionate hand. We respect the vulnerability and dignity of each person we serve. The NEST, a free-choice food pantry, is an open and inclusive facility that honors the rights and needs of all those who come to our door.
South Hall, Rm 118
Nassau Community College
The NEST is a 503©3 non-profit organization supported by: Our NCC campus community (individuals, clubs, academic departments, student organizations, independent organizations), LICares food bank, Island Harvest food bank, corporate donors, private donors, various fundraising efforts and special events, civic organizations, and religious groups. (Every penny donated to The NEST goes directly to the purchase of food, the operation of pantry programs, and individuals and families in need.)
Please spread the word to your students about the NEST.
NCCFT Executive Committee