Updated October 16, 2018 at 11:42 a.m.
In light of a grievance filed by the Barnard Contingent Faculty Union against Barnard last month, union representative Sonam Singh sought support from students at the Student Government Association’s weekly meeting on Monday.
The union filed a grievance in September on the grounds of anti-union discrimination over the removal of a stipend to union members in First-Year Seminar classes. Despite the fact that the stipend was not explicitly included in the contract, the union argued that it had been paid through practice up until last year.
According to Provost and Dean of the Faculty Linda Bell, the stipend is included in this year’s base pay for three-credit courses, which, at $8,000, is higher than it had been prior to the contract. Non-union faculty teaching First-Year Seminar courses still receive the stipend, which in 2017 was $2,000.
As the union enters arbitration with the college to reach a settlement, Singh, who is a bargaining unit chair and an adjunct lecturer in the English department, addressed the financial burden of legal fees and the need for school-wide support. According to Singh, the arbitration will most likely consist of eight hours of hearings for three days. Both the administration and the union will share the cost of an arbitrator and a corporate lawyer, amounting to anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per hour.
Academic Affairs Representative Solace Mensah-Narh, BC ’21, asked how students and SGA members could show their support for the union. In response, Student-Worker Solidarity member Emily Moncada, BC ’20, requested that SGA encourage students to circulate a petition that calls upon Barnard President Sian Beilock to restore the First-Year Stipend to faculty and their family members regardless of rank, and to serve as allies to non-tenured Barnard workers by listening to their grievances.
Representative for Arts and Culture Phanesia Pharel, BC ’21, asked how BCF-UAW and SWS plans to engage the Barnard student body in their efforts, adding that she believed the average Barnard student would be in favor of the union.
Moncada responded that SWS would like to partner with SGA to create a video campaign to reach students and garner their support through social media.
“SWS has been working on an animation style video to explain this issue,” Moncada said. “SGA has a bigger reach than the [SWS page].”
Singh encouraged students to see this particular grievance as part of a more broad, schoolwide fight.
“From my perspective, there are two movements that are happening in education,” Singh said. “One is the fight for inclusion and equity … and the other one is recentering universities away from corporate management and into the armies of exploited academic workers.”