icAfter two days of voting, part-time lecturers and full-time contingent faculty members at Ithaca College (IC) voted to authorize the IC Contingent Faculty Union/Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 200United Bargaining Committee to call for any action up to a strike. The authorization vote comes after 18 months of bargaining between the union and the IC administration.

Tom Schneller, bargaining committee member and Part-Time Lecturer in the School of Music, said: "We are energized and excited by the outcome of the vote, which demonstrates that contingent professors at IC are fed up with the status quo and willing to stand up and fight for job security and fair pay. We are fed up with being exploited as cheap disposable labor, to be hired and fired at will. We reject the Walmart model of higher education that is espoused by the administration. It is immoral and unsustainable that our top administrators are raking in massive salaries while many of the professors who provide the education our students struggle to afford are living in poverty. Our proposals are reasonable and achievable: for part-time faculty to attain pay parity at IC would make up 0.3% of IC's current budget. Doing the right thing at minimal cost to the college should not be a difficult decision. It is time for the IC administration to stop stonewalling and do what's in the best interest of faculty and students at Ithaca College, rather than their own financial priorities."

The strike vote comes after months of escalation in the contingent faculty's struggle for a fair first contract. The college administration has refused to budge on union proposals that would provide part-time lecturers pay parity with their full-time faculty colleagues and job security for full-time lecturers, the two main issues for the union membership. Last October, over 300 students, faculty, and community members rallied outside an IC Board of Trustees fundraising gala and the bargaining committee released a photo essay over social media that explained the day-to-day life of part-time lecturers at Ithaca College.

Students, faculty, and other community members also launched a petition drive, sending letters to Senior Vice President Nancy Pringle and members of the Board of Trustees, calling on them to reach a fair first contract. Since the start of the drive, over 450 of letters have been sent.

"As students we are standing up for what is fair for ourselves and faculty. Our teacher's teaching conditions are our learning conditions. We are prepared to take action to make Ithaca College be a leader in our community for equity and justice,'' said Alex Koshgarian a Freshman at Ithaca College and a senator for student government.

Over the past two weeks, faculty from several departments across Ithaca College released letters of support, promising to not hire replacements and committing to not fill their classes if the IC Contingent Faculty Union/SEIU Local 200United does go out on strike.

Tenured faculty member Patricia Rodriguez said: "The unionized contingent faculty at IC demonstrate to us all the courage to stand up for change and voice in a system that has them at the bottom of the pay scale, for no other reason than that is what the system is like. But they show us that it does not need to be this way, that there can be power in showing solidarity, in workers of all different ranks standing side by side, such that the ranks begin to matter less and less one day hopefully."

After this vote, the union negotiating committee will return to the bargaining table for two more federally mediated bargaining sessions.

The union of part-time lecturers was formed in May 2015 after an overwhelming 3-to-1 vote to unionize and has been at the bargaining table for 18 months. Full-time contingent faculty members later voted in May 2016 to join their part-time lecturer colleagues at the bargaining table.