There is no question the college deeply values the dedication and contributions of our Local 2110 employees—employees we work side by side with every day. We know firsthand that these members of our community are incredibly committed to Barnard, and we recognize the critical roles they play in making the college run. Since June, we have been meeting with the union’s leadership and talking through all aspects of their next contract, in an effort to reach an agreement that is fair to all parties—including the other employees of the college—and that acknowledges the current economic climate and our plans for the future.
The college and UAW Local 2110’s representatives want to achieve the same goal: an equitable, sustainable contract. It is critically important that both sides work toward this goal expeditiously, but not in a manner that is rushed or incomplete. The management and labor bargaining teams have spent many hours developing a new contract, and this process is ongoing. Negotiating a collective bargaining agreement takes time, effort, and understanding; it is not unusual for the back-and-forth to continue for several months after the expiration of the initial contract. In fact, this is typically what has occurred with 2110 and our neighboring institutions in Morningside Heights, such as Teachers College and Columbia University. At Barnard, negotiations for the most recent contract, which covered the period from June 1, 2009 to June 30, 2012, were not completed until March 2010.
We know that all parties want what is best for Barnard and its students. While we are acutely aware that certain adjustments to total compensation may be difficult, trade-offs are an inevitable part of this process. These sacrifices are not only being asked of our union employees. All other groups at the college, including the faculty and administration, have experienced similar belt-tightening measures in the past few years. These changes are unfortunate, and certainly they are not easy, but they reflect the reality of today’s economy, not only for Barnard, but for all institutions and organizations across the country.
We are committed to continuing our dialogue with Local 2110, and we are hopeful that we can arrive at a collective bargaining agreement that is consistent, fair, and sustainable. We also greatly appreciate the interest of the broader community in this negotiation process, and welcome constructive suggestions that will help us reach our goals.
Gregory Brown is the chief operating officer of Barnard College. Gail Beltrone is the vice president for campus services of Barnard College.
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