Updated Dec. 6, 11:39 a.m.
The Barnard contingent faculty union’s vote to commence a strike authorization is set to close Tuesday night, according to union leadership.
The union, which is currently negotiating a first contract with Barnard, began voting on Nov. 15 for strike authorization rights, which would allow it to declare a strike at any point during the negotiations without prior notice to the college. For the vote to pass, a two-thirds majority of the unit—which represents 180 members of Barnard’s adjunct and non-tenure-track faculty—who voted would need to be in favor of the strike authorization.
If a strike is declared, members of the union on strike are eligible to receive $200 a week in compensation from Local 2110; however, if a member crosses the picket line, they cease to be eligible for compensation.
The union is planning on publicly releasing the results of the vote by the end of the week, according to adjunct dance lecturer and member of the union’s bargaining committee Siobhan Burke, BC ’07.
The college and union have been locked in negotiations over the union’s first contract since February, and have met 20 times since then. While progress has been made on the noneconomic portions of the contract, the economic portions—which include wages, benefits, and job security—have been the main points of contention. The two parties are scheduled to meet three more times before the end of the semester, and both sides have said they are hopeful that the situation can be resolved before winter break.
Adjunct English lecturer and member of the union’s bargaining committee Sonam Singh said in an interview with Spectator on Monday that the union decided to hold the vote after it felt confident it would pass.
With only one day left for faculty members to vote, Singh said that a majority of the union has already cast its votes.
“I think we’re very pleased with the turnout so far,” Singh said. “We’re very grateful that students have shown so much support for it.”
But in an interview with Spectator last week, Provost and Dean of the Faculty Linda Bell stated that she was “disappointed” that the union had moved to commence the vote, given that they have yet to respond formally to the college’s counteroffer, which was presented in August.
“I wish that they hadn't taken that action, but it doesn't impact in any way our really strong desire to go to the bargaining table, get the deal done, sign a very fair first contract that helps to achieve as many of the unit's goals as possible but still preserves and protects the academic programs for our students,” Bell said.
Still, union bargaining team member and adjunct architecture lecturer Todd Rouhe, GSAPP ’97, said that the union hopes the strike authorization vote will push negotiations along without the need to progress to a strike.
"[A strike] impacts everyone—the students, the faculty, the contingent and the on-ladder faculty," he said. "We really hope we don't have to have a strike. It seems like a contradictory statement, but we're hoping that by taking a strike authorization vote, that we can avoid a strike, because it will move us towards a resolution."
The two parties are scheduled to meet again this Friday.