Nassau Community College’s adjunct faculty — non-tenured, part-time staff who teach no more than two classes each semester — were on strike last week after the NCC Board of Trustees rejected their demands for a new contract and pay raises. The adjunct faculty’s union, the Adjunct Faculty Association, went on strike in the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 9, and called off the strike on Friday, Sept. 13.
A post on the AFA’s website stated that the strike was off “pending a super-conciliation meeting” between the union and NCC administration at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday this week, after press time, and it instructed AFA members to return to teaching classes.
The union called off the strike one day after Dr. Kenneth Saunders, NCC’s acting president, issued a letter to the striking AFA members stating “that if you do not return to your regularly scheduled classroom assignment effective Monday, Sept. 16, you may be discharged from your employment with the college.”
Saunders’s letter also stated that AFA members would be docked two days’ pay for every one day they were on strike.
The same day that he warned the striking adjuncts to return to work or face dismissal, Saunders announced NCC was looking to replace the union members with new hires. “We have begun solicitations for qualified substitutes for those adjuncts who are currently participating in the illegal strike,” Saunders wrote on Sept. 12. “If we are successful in this effort, there will be no impact of the illegal strike on a students' financial aid, on state aid and there will not be any need to consider refunding tuition.”
NCC had on Sept. 10 obtained from Margaret Reilly, a judge at the state Supreme Court in Mineola, a temporary restraining order and injunction enjoining the union from striking. (In New York, Supreme Court is a lower-level trial court, not an appellate court.) The injunction cited New York’s Taylor Law, which prohibits public employees in the state from striking.
The Taylor Law, passed in 1967, establishes a state Public Employees Relations Board that can, at the request of either a public employer or union, assign a conciliator to work toward a resolution of a labor dispute.