University teacher lockout ends; contract talks continue

AP News
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Posted: Sep 15, 2016 5:13 PM
University teacher lockout ends; contract talks continue

NEW YORK (AP) — About 400 university faculty members who were locked out for 12 days over a bitterly contested contract went back to teaching on Thursday.

The lockout action by Long Island University in Brooklyn that suddenly left professors without health insurance or access to email also deprived about 8,000 students of their teachers. The professors were replaced by substitutes, many of whom students said were unqualified to teach particular subjects.

The Long Island University Faculty Federation union reached an agreement late Wednesday with the private university to extend the contract to May 31, 2017, allowing bargaining to continue. On Thursday, students and teachers scrambled to get back to normal.

Faculty members agreed to refrain from striking during negotiations and accepted a proposal to engage a mediator.

The university's chief operating officer, Gale Haynes, said the union's commitment not to strike during this academic year "provides us enough runway to reach a reasonable and fair agreement, while providing our students the ability to continue their studies uninterrupted."

Full professors and adjuncts were locked out of the university's Brooklyn campus a few days before classes were to start on Sept. 7. The faculty contract expired Aug. 31.

The university had said professors rejected a proposed contract that would have cut salaries and hours for new adjunct professors, who represent about half the teaching staff, while offering existing faculty average raises of more than 13 percent over five years.

Classes started last week with the replacement teachers. Some ended quickly after attendance was taken or a syllabus was handed out, students said. And science laboratories were canceled because those in charge must have safety licenses.

The faculty federation, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, has filed a charge of unfair labor practice against the university with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging bad-faith bargaining.

The university also has a Long Island campus, which was unaffected by the labor troubles.

Another sticking point in negotiations was that tenured professors at the Brooklyn campus are paid less than those at its Long Island campus, LIU Post.

LIU spokeswoman Jennifer Solomon said the differences in salaries between the Brooklyn and Long Island faculty are a result of salary structures requested by the union in previous contracts.