Econ 101: Profs strike at LIU over pay

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Instructors at Long Island University’s Downtown campus walked off the job on Wednesday, scrubbing the first day of classes and claiming that the private institution isn’t paying them “a living wage.”

In a real-world economics lesson, about 50 LIU professors marched outside the DeKalb Avenue campus to protest a new five-year contract offer that would freeze salaries for three years — and then grant raises of two percent in the final two years of the contract, but only if the $30,000 annual tuition increases during the same period.

The teachers’ current contract expired on Aug. 31. Staffers mocked the proposed deal, saying that the school’s starting salaries of $56,000 for instructors and $63,000 for professors are already substandard.

“The faculty is the soul of this institution,” said Ralph Engelman, a journalism professor. “It’s a real blow to the whole school; it makes it harder to attract and keep quality staffers.”

Students who arrived at the campus on Wednesday were surprised to find their teachers on the picket lines, not behind the lectern.

In some cases, administrators led classes on the extremely local current events topic.

“This is crazy,” sophomore Katie Rivera said after sitting through a discussion of the labor conflict led by a non-union administrator.

Other students came upon empty classrooms and celebrated an extra day of summer — or logged on to Twitter to air their jocular grievances.

“If [the strike] lasts 10 days, the semester is cancelled!!” posted @iTs_Audii_Doe — though school officials were quick to note there are no plans to pull the plug on the semester.

Brian Harmon, a spokesman for the school, said that the 11,000-student campus is simply trying to be “fiscally responsible” during difficult financial times, adding the university’s overall enrollment has dropped by seven percent in the past year.

The dilemma, he said, boils down to “whether the university’s scarce resources should go to faculty” or “scholarships and other student needs.”

But professors say it’s not that simple: They want university honchos to examine a “bloated administra­tion” budget and send the message that teachers matter.

Professors cited one telling statistic: Five years ago, 25 percent of the school’s total budget went to faculty salaries. Now, it’s down to 14 percent — and there are now more administrators.

And Engelman said that the school’s emphasis on capital projects — like a wellness center, new graduate dorms and a fancy stadium — are a sign that teachers are not a top priority.

The new contract comes a few months after faculty agreed to pay more for their health care to save the school some money — a move that teachers thought would open the door for raises.

“I’m angry and dishearten­ed,” said Edward Donahue, a chemistry professor.

Teachers are seeking a compromise between the five-percent annual raises they typically received and the zilch they’re set to get now.

Even so, compromise could be in sight: Harmon said the school plans to have more negotiations with the professors. “We hope to resolve this as soon as possible,” he said.

Until negotiations begin, profs said that they won’t show up for class.

Updated 5:26 pm, July 9, 2018: Oy vey. This story originally the Tweet to @iSTAYHUNK_GOE. But further review revealed that @iTs_Audii_Doe made the first Tweet. We regret the error.
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Reasonable discourse

Doreen from Hicksville says:
Their c w post campus is also on strike!
Sept. 8, 2011, 12:12 am
Shawakatima from Brooklyn says:
"Brian Harmon, a spokesman for the school, said that the 11,000-student campus is simply trying to be “fiscally responsible” during difficult financial times, adding the university’s overall enrollment has dropped by seven percent in the past year." Enrollment is down because the school does a crappy job at retaining current students and luring new ones. You accomplish that by providing an outstanding and seamless educational experience. The President and all his cronies can kick rocks!
Sept. 8, 2011, 8:44 am
Len from Park Slope says:
The problem at LIU is that too much of the student tuition goes to a bloated bureaucracy. They have about 27 vice presidents pushing paper. The Brooklyn Provost has her whole family on the payroll. Nepotism rules. The President pulls in almost a million dollars in salary and is notable for not raising any money for LIU. Normally that is the most important thing a president does for his school. Only about 15% of students' tuition goes for the faculty that actually teaches them. Shame on LIU.
Sept. 8, 2011, 11:55 am
Anne from Riverhead says:
As a graduate of LIU and Southampton College, I cannot find any support or sympathy for the administration in this. They are the ones who renege on deals and say one thing, while planning on the other.

LIU’s administration made a big production of fund raising and took in millions from alumni and donors to renovate and update LIU’s Southampton College’s campus through showcasing a ten year plan to make the campus one of the best in the nation, then one year INTO the plan, decided to flat out close and sell off the campus. There was no notice to students or alumni about this until it was already decided to close the campus.

There was no offer to return those donations or provide any sort of compensation for all of the money they took in good faith to rehabilitate that campus. It was a pure instance of “look over here while we take your money and run”. Who knows what they spent it on, since it certainly wasn’t used for the purposes that it was donated for.

And they have the nerve to call every year looking for alumni donations for ‘my campus’. My campus that no longer exists. I wish I could cancel my student loans like the way they can cancel their obligations to students and their staff.
Sept. 8, 2011, 1:44 pm
Jennifer from Clinton Hill says:
From what I understand, enrollment at the Brooklyn campus of LIU is actually up around 5% this year... but enrollment at the big C.W. Post campus out in Brookville, Long Island, is down a lot. So basically Brooklyn is subsidizing Brookville! The same thing has been happening for years as LIU Brooklyn made money and LIU Southampton was bleeding cash -- until the administration eventually sold it, as Anne from Riverhead mentioned in the earlier post.
Sept. 8, 2011, 7:53 pm
LIU Faculty from New York, NY says:
I have always been a staunch supporter of unions including mine, especially in the face of the current climate of union busting. But even though I will not cross the picket line I don’t know how I feel about our current strike. I see both sides of the argument. Yes we as faculty deserve a better contract, better healthcare option and given that we are living in NY the lump sum equation doesn’t equitably factor into it the cost of living and inflation in the next few years. But universities are suffering across the board. Enrollments are down, students can’t afford the high fees charged by private institutions like ours and scholarship, state and federal are scarce. Would I then take a pay freeze the first year for the greater good of using that money for scholarships for students? I can be convinced. Is the pay increase suggested by the administration a fair one? I agree it isn’t but even my friends in the corporate sector are not getting increases. Desperate time call for desperate measures and that is what the administration is doing in threatening to revoke our current healthcare so that faculty can buckle down. But unlike Lehman Brothers Long Island University is not going under and still have jobs. So why can’t we work through negotiations as k-12 teachers do so our students aren’t interrupted? Corporate sectors have employee raises tied to the company’s overall performance. Maybe tying tuition enrollments to faculty raises after our guaranteed 2% might not be such a bad idea. I am of the lucky few who have tenure and a job plus a medical health care guarantee in this economy and ultimately have the luxury of a flexible job, working with the best young minds in the country and get paid for what I love to do. For that I think I should be willing to make some compromises too. In solidarity
Sept. 9, 2011, 10:14 am
k from bronx says:
This is really depressing situation..who says that only teachers of LIU are in trouble..the students too are in trouble..Such a mediocre school..Look at the Pharmacy department,not enough funds..professors grants for research.This is a damn Good for nothing school.They dont care for quality of Education..Look at what people do in Departments,how many departments have people who work sincerely..they come enjoy,eat,sit for an houror two,joke around and leave..Please,close down such schools,so that students dont get trapped in such mediocre schools..
Sept. 9, 2011, 2:01 pm

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