icFollowing two bargaining sessions with the Ithaca College administration this week, the MachanoffIthaca College Contingent Faculty Union/Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 200United, announced that members will walk out on a two-day strike on March 28th and 29th, if a tentative agreement was not reached beforehand. Last month, part-time lecturers and non-tenure-track term faculty members of the IC Contingent Faculty voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if a fair first contract was not reached, with 88% voting to authorize the strike.

The announcement comes the day after the International Women's Strike, a nationwide day of action led and organized by women. At colleges and universities across Upstate New York and nationwide, a majority of contingent faculty members are women while their tenured and tenure-track colleagues are men.

"Contingent faculty issues disproportionately impact women and underrepresented communities. Statistically more women end up with contingent, non-tenure track teaching positions compared to their male counterparts. We hope that the administration recognizes that by attempting to maintain the current structure, which generally promotes a lack of job stability, they create enormous obstacles for women, especially for women of underrepresented groups, single mothers, and women with children. By holding firm to the status quo, they are complicit in further perpetuating the inequities that these vulnerable communities already face. We stand ready to fight for what is ultimately an issue of justice. We are prepared to strike on March 28th and 29th if the administration continues to rationalize their stance while putting members of our campus and local community at risk" said Sarah Grunberg, a member of the contingent faculty bargaining committee.

Joining with members of the IC Contingent Faculty Union Negotiating Committee, the Cornell University Labor Law Clinic, announced that they had filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which will investigate and rule on the charges. The charges argue that the college administration has retaliated against several members of the full-time contingent faculty members who also serve on the bargaining committee by not renewing their contracts for next year.

The charges filed fall under section 8a of the National Labor Relations Act and state that "on or about February 2016 and thereafter, the above-named employer has interfered with, restrained or coerced Rachel Gunderson, David Kornreich, and Shoshanna Cole in the exercise of their Section 7 rights by taking discriminatory adverse action against them."

Said Rachel Gunderson, one of the bargaining team members listed in the charge, "After receiving two degrees from Ithaca College, six years of working full time with successful evaluations, and regularly turning away literally hundreds of students each semester due to filled up ICC classes, I come to find sections are now getting cut and my classes given away for the upcoming Fall with no chance of continuing in 2017-2018. This is happening right after forming a union along with several other contingent colleagues, many of whom did not receive an interview for better positions after 6+ years of service. My Chair has requested my rehire to the Dean several times with no luck since the union was formed and classes have been offered to me for Fall 2017 and then taken away more than once. Fewer course offerings for general education often hurt student's ability to get into classes they need and to graduate on time."

Students, faculty, and other community supporters flanked members of the negotiating committee, urging the college administration to avert a strike by meeting the union's demands for fair pay and improved job security for contingent faculty.

Said Pete Meyers, Director of the Tompkins Count Workers Center, "I am urging the Ithaca administration to reach an agreement which avoids a strike and provides adequate stability and pay for contingent faculty. I believe that the current investigation by the National Labor Relations Board sheds further light on the need for everyone at Ithaca College to have just working conditions and the ability to speak up without retaliation."

Ithaca College senior Taylor Ford added "As students we are fully behind our contingent faculty. A lot of students are talking about the upcoming strike and are ready to walk out of our classrooms."

There is one more bargaining session with an appointed federal mediator scheduled on March 15th between the IC Contingent Faculty Union and the college administration. Union negotiating committee members say they hope to reach a fair deal and avoid a strike.