Union faculty vote unanimously
to ratify contract
Much has happened since our last issue of LFU News. Most importantly, the LFU and all of the parties involved in the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) complaints against the School reached a settlement agreement with the School. At the same time, Longy and the LFU tentatively agreed to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which was subsequently ratified by a unanimous vote of LFU members at a recent membership meeting.
How we got here
As we reported in the last issue of LFU News (February 1, 2011), negotiations became frequent and lengthy in January following Judge Patti Saris’s injunction ruling against the School. When we went to court on February 7 for the NLRB case against Longy, Administrative Law Judge Mark Levin strongly encouraged both the LFU and Longy to continue in lengthy negotiating sessions, and we did just that. The intense all-day negotiations continued on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of that week, lasting well into the evening on most nights. The negotiations were difficult and both sides made concessions, right up until the last moments.
The Thursday, February 10, negotiating session continued until about 3:30 a.m. (Friday) when we finally reached tentative agreement. At approximately 4:00 a.m. on Friday, February 11, the entire Longy Executive team including Karen Zorn, Kalen Ratzlaff, Howard Levy, Wayman Chin and Miriam Eckelhoefer, along with the School’s lawyers from Mintz Levin, met and shook hands with LFU Negotiating Committee members Clayton Hoener, Jonathan Cohler, AFT Field Representative Diane Frey, and AFT lawyer Haidee Morris while Karen Zorn and Clayton Hoener signed the tentatively agreed-upon CBA. (The now-ratified and effective CBA can be viewed online here.)
The settlement agreement(s)
Because the LFU represents bargaining unit faculty only, it was not possible to include faculty from outside the bargaining unit in the settlement. (The NLRB determined in its Decision and Direction of Election on December 9, 2009 that the bargaining unit includes “All faculty currently teaching, and who have a weekly average of at least three benefit units in one of the last two fiscal years, excluding all other employees, visiting faculty, administrators, confidential employees, office clerical employees, managers, guards, and supervisors as defined in the Act.”)
The settlement agreement deals with and resolves all of the issues raised in the NLRB complaints against Longy. (For details of the complaints see NLRB accuses Longy of new violations, LFU News, December 13, 2010, and General Counsel of NLRB issues complaint against Longy, LFU News, October 20, 2010.) Arriving at the settlement was particularly difficult because it had to meet requirements of the LFU, of the affected individuals, of the School, and of the NLRB itself. In fact, “the settlement” (sometimes referred to as “the global settlement”) really encompasses more than a dozen different individual settlement agreements along with the CBA and a “side-letter” from Bard College. The settlement agreements all include confidentiality clauses that prevent disclosure, by any of the parties involved, of the specific financial terms of any settlement payments.
- The LFU signed a settlement with the School agreeing to officially request withdrawal of all charges filed with the NLRB, based on the School's making acceptable settlements with the aggrieved individuals referred to in the complaints. This agreement also remedies all of the non-financially related charges against the School. The LFU did not receive any payments as a result of the settlement. LFU Executive Board members and LFU Negotiating Committee members have received no compensation for their work on behalf of the LFU.
- The School signed individual agreements with faculty collective bargaining unit members whose contracts were not renewed as part of the “realignment” announced by the administration on March 5, 2010.
- The School signed several other individual agreements with current faculty collective bargaining unit members who lost work in the Conservatory Division as part of the “realignment.”
- Bard College signed a “side-letter” agreeing to hire all members of the Collective Bargaining Unit (CBU) and to assume the CBA.
- The LFU and the School signed the CBA, which covers all faculty members in the CBU, whether or not they join the LFU. The CBA covers the period from February 1, 2011 to June 30, 2014. Individual position appointments for current CBU faculty members will last for five years. Criteria for reappointment after these initial five-year appointments will be the subject of continuing negotiations in the newly created Labor Management Committee (LMC).
During the week of February 28, 2011, the LFU held two Special Meetings open to all CBU members, in which updates on the settlement and CBA were presented and questions were answered. On Sunday, March 6, 2011, at a heavily attended LFU Membership Meeting, the members voted unanimously to ratify the CBA. The meeting began with a synopsis of the previous weeks’ activities followed by a comparison of the CBA with existing terms and conditions of employment, after which the negotiating team responded to members’ questions.
The meeting was quite a moving affair. After secret ballot votes were collected and counted in front of the assembled membership, the room erupted in a standing ovation, with more than a few tears of joy and relief in evidence. It was a historic moment for Longy, for us as a faculty, and for the future of the School.
What we have gained
While the CBA is not a panacea, it is certainly a big step for us in gaining back the voice, participation, dignity and respect that had been lost for so long. Among our many new rights established in the CBA is the provision that bargaining unit faculty can be fired or disciplined only for “just cause,” and we have a grievance procedure that can end in arbitration. For more information on the CBA and the newly won contractual rights and obligations of CBU members, see the contract summary here, the comparison with previous conditions here, and the complete detail of the contract here.
Thanks to our supporters
The LFU Executive Board members are grateful to the many people who have been involved in the NLRB process, in the negotiations, and, in general, in supporting the LFU through this difficult time. Our thanks go to everyone, both inside and outside the faculty, who donated time, energy, or money, and to all who sacrificed on our behalf.
Thanks from Mrs. Rosenblith
The day after the LFU sent flowers to Carol Rosenblith in memory of her late husband, Eric Rosenblith, she responded with a note to LFU president Clay Hoener, saying she was really touched by the gesture and asking that we extend her thanks to the membership of the LFU.
Eric was very supportive of the union when it was forming, attending meetings and contributing his learned perspective. His gravitas added to the credibility of our cause among Longy faculty. As a member since 1942 and more recently an honor-member of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 802 of New York City, Eric said, “I’ve always been a union man.” Given his belief in the importance of having a union at Longy, we are sure he would have been pleased with the recent ratification of our first-time collective bargaining agreement.
Eric Rosenblith passed away on December 16, 2010. He had taught as a member of the Longy faculty for many years and was a valued member of the Longy Faculty Union. A tribute written by his student Mark Arroyo was published in the January 9, 2011 issue of LFU News here.
All are invited to attend:
A Celebration of the Life of Eric Rosenblith
Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 5 p.m.
First Church in Boston - Unitarian Universalist
66 Marlborough Street
“Voices of the ‘Realigned’” Series
Now that the Union has reached a global settlement with the School and affected members of the Collective Bargaining Unit, we feel we should look to the future. As a result, we have decided to close the Voices of the ‘Realigned’ series about faculty and their students, which began in the June 10, 2010 issue of the LFU News.
We wish to extend heartfelt thanks to all who contributed their stories, for giving us their time and support during the editing process and after the stories were published. These articles played an important role in communicating the depth of the loss felt in the Longy community after the “realignment” was announced.
We look forward to offering other series in the future that feature contributions of Union members and their students.
- Friday, March 25, 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 noon, Executive Board Meeting, Eastern Bank in Harvard Square, Community Room
- Monday, April 4, 8:00 - 8:15 p.m., Executive Board Meeting, Wolfinsohn Room
- Monday, April 4, 8:15 - 9:30 p.m., Membership Meeting, Wolfinsohn Room