Long Island University Faculty Members Begin Strike Over Wages, Healthcare Benefits

Students told to go to classes as scheduled; Administrative offices will remain open.

Over 600 faculty members are on strike today, citing a decade-long wage freeze and proposed yearly increases in employee contributions to healthcare plans. 

On Monday night, negotiations between LIU administration and 253 fulltime and 400 part-time faculty members came to a standstill after faculty found the administration's latest offer unacceptable.

According to professor of sociology Syed Ali, who joined his colleagues on the picket line Wednesday, the administration offered faculty members a five-year contract with a wage freeze for the first three years and a 2 percent annual increase for the final two years.

Ali also said that faculty members are seeing none of the money the school has received from recent tuition increases.   

“The ball is in their court right now and they’re not playing nice,” Ali said.

According to Ali, the strikers haven’t received any offer from the administration yet—and as of this morning when the strike began, a notification was sent out by the administration informing faculty members that their health plans had been cancelled.

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, administration officials at LIU could not confirm that notice had been sent to union members about a possible cancellation in healthcare benefits. 

“We weren’t asking for the moon. We just wanted something livable,” said Faculty Union president Edward Donahue. “If they decide to play hardball, everything negotiated up to this point will be gone.”

According to university spokesman Brian Harmon, the first day of classes began as scheduled Wednesday. Administrative offices will remain open.

Harmon characterized the proposed healthcare contribution increase for faculty members as "modest." He also said union members had been offered a series of lump-sum payments and wage increases following a one-year salary freeze. 

"The central tension in this strike is whether the university's scare resources should go to faculty in salaries and benefits or be directed to scholarships and other student needs," Harmon said. "The faculty union seeks a guaranteed set of increased irrespective of those realities."

The strike will continue every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until some sort of compromise can be reached, Donahue said. 

The LIU strike comes on the heels of an announcement Tuesday that over broken-down negotiations with Brooklyn Hospital, just a few blocks away.

Paul Leonard September 08, 2011 at 02:07 PM
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