The leadership of the Faculty Association can only assume many of you were just as shocked by the results on the elections last week as we were. We also realize that some members did not want a Clinton victory. For those members we say we all need to work together to protect the collective bargaining rights of the FA and its members.

We are not going to Wednesday morning quarterback. We are not going to assume all is lost. However, as a result of Tuesday’s results, AFT and NYSUT, as well as the FA, are genuinely frightened at the fact that union and collective bargaining rights may cease to exist. This is not hyperbole—it’s reality and it all lies within the next Supreme Court nominee. Here’s where we are and what could happen:

  • January 11, 2016: The Friedrichs v. California Teacher’s Association (CTA) case was heard by the full nine-judge Court prior to Scalia’s passing. Friedrichs, who has a 30-year career as a kindergarten teacher in California, was picked by conservative groups to be the “face” of this case. The argument they put forward is that unions were using dues for political purposes. It is against the law to do this and CTA never did this. Like us, they have a separate PAC like our VOTE-COPE. The argument was based around the notion that union dues were to collectively bargain which essentially is a political activity. Remember, collective bargaining allows unions to meet with their employer to negotiate wages, health insurance, seniority, workload, workplace safety, retirement, and many other issues that matter to workers.
  • February 13, 2016: Justice Scalia unexpectedly passes away, and the court was made up of eight justices.
  • March 16, 2016: President Obama nominates Merrick Garland to fill the position to the SCOTUS.
  • Summer 2016: The Senate, in control of the Republicans, refused to hold hearings until the conclusion of the 2016 presidential election.
  • June 28, 2016: SCOTUS delivers a 4-4 decision on Friedrichs v. CTA which means the case reverts back to the Lower Court, allowing CTA and other unions to continue to collect union dues.
  • November 9, 2016: Donald J. Trump becomes President Elect. He has the ability to nominate a Supreme Court Justice, which has to be approved by the Senate—currently in the hands of the Republicans.

What’s next: There are approximately 14 anti-union cases making their way through the lower courts. If a conservative justice is appointed, it could spell disaster for all unions across this country.

What we are going to do about this? As a result the FA is beginning its member mobilization campaign.

We all know how important unions are and the benefits we have earned. We all know that our freedoms—social justice, civil rights and academic freedom—are results of collective bargaining. In the coming months your Executive Council rep will be discussing with you issues we need to focus on. The FA officers will also be out and about to engage in one-on-one discussions about the challenges we face.

We all need to understand the magnitude of a conservative Supreme Court.

We all need to start now to effect the local elections in 2017 and the national elections in 2018.

We all need to give to VOTE/COPE.

In the spring the FA leadership will hold meetings on all three campuses (including a few in the evenings and weekends) to discuss the issues we face as a union and the potential strategies for overcoming these obstacles.

We realize that this election has caused many faculty to feel uncertain, confused, sad and, yes, angry.  We need to take our concerns and turn them into positive energy that can and will force us back to what we do best—change lives!

Our community deserves it!
Our students deserve it!
Our union needs it!

This recent election has given us a clear signal. Too many voters did not participate. Too many people had too many excuses. Too many people now realize the magnitude of  “staying home.” We cannot “coast” any longer.  We can no longer have a few do all the work. We need to mobilize, educate and engage. We ALL have to be “all in.” As we always say, “Activism works!”

Now is the time to start our long-term planning and an “all in” mobilization campaign!

In solidarity,

The FA Officers:

Kevin Peterman, President
Sean Tvelia, Executive Vice President
Marie Hanna, Secretary
Pete DiGregorio, Treasurer
Dante Morelli, Grievance Officer
Cynthia Eaton, Adjunct Coordinator