ITHACA, N.Y. — Contingent faculty at Ithaca College are prepared to strike and have set dates later this month to do so. It could be the first strike in Ithaca College history.

The contingent faculty unions announced they will strike March 28 and 29 if a contract agreement is not reached before then. The announcement comes after two bargaining sessions this week. Part-time contingent faculty have been fighting for equal pay to full-time faculty and full-time contingent faculty have been bargaining for more job security through longer-term contracts.

Rachel Kaufman, lecturer in the department of writing, said they gave the administration one more chance with an emergency bargaining session at 9 a.m. Thursday.

“We gave the administration one more chance and I can’t tell you how many one more chances we feel like we’ve given them, but after the last several sessions we’ve seen their position not move at all, not move any more than like a drink at Argos, and that’s not what we’re going for. We’re going for lifting faculty off of Medicaid, lifting faculty’s children off of school lunch programs, we’re going for actual change that would only cost 0.29 percent of the budget to affect, but would create fair pay for faculty at this campus and lift faculty out of dire straits,” Kaufman said.

Sarah Grunberg, lecturer in the department of sociology, reads a statement regarding contingent faculty being prepared to strike. Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice
Sarah Grunberg, lecturer in the department of sociology, reads a statement regarding contingent faculty being prepared to strike. Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice

Sarah Grunberg, instructor in the department of sociology, said contingent faculty asked for an emergency meeting Thursday because during their mediated session they had come to understand the college could be willing to agree on a significant increase in compensation for part-time faculty.

“We were hopeful this would lead to ratification of a contract for part-timers that would be supportive of our members’ needs,” Grunberg said. “We quickly realized this morning that this was not the case.”

Grunberg said they are also ready to strike for members of the bargaining committee who did not get their contracts renewed for next year.

The National Labor Relations Board will be investigating Ithaca College after an unfair labor practice charge was filed by this week by the Cornell Labor Law Clinic and Service Employees International Union, Local 200 United. The federal board will investigate claims that the college retaliated against three members of the bargaining committee by not renewing their contracts.

Related: NLRB will investigate claims of unfair labor practice at Ithaca College

Dave Maley, senior associate director of media relations at Ithaca College, said bargaining committees met from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday and by the end of the session, he said the bargaining unit for the part-time faculty had not responded to the wage proposal the college made at the beginning of Wednesday’s bargaining session.

Maley said the college hopes to continue negotiations in a way that will reach settlements for both of the faculty bargaining units.

Maley said there has never been a strike at Ithaca College, at least not in the 30 years he has worked at the college.

There will be another bargaining session March 15.

Kaufman said contingent faculty would love the faculty to do something to avoid the strike.

“We’re very, very reasonable,” Kaufman said. “Over the last several sessions we have come down quite a lot in hopes of averting a strike, in hopes of averting a disruption to the community and the administration has stayed exactly where they were for the last three sessions. At any point, they have our phone numbers. We’d love to hear from them.”

Disclosure: Sarah Grunberg, an Ithaca College professor involved in the labor dispute, is on the Ithaca Voice’s board of directors. We do not believe this has influenced out coverage. Contact us with concerns at jamendarez@ithacavoice.com.

Featured image by Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.