The Nassau Community College Full Time Faculty union gathered last month to voice its need for “fair contracts.”
The union was there in full view of the Nassau Community College trustees, who had gathered for their monthly board meeting at the Nassau Community College Tower. They walked straight into the crowd of college faculty and students on the 11th floor, ready to share their support for a new contract that they say would better favor educators.
Higher wages are especially important now with inflation so high, according to union secretary Suzanne Kaebnick. Also soaring are housing and transportation costs, which years of wage freezes or slight increases cannot even begin to cover.
Faculty wages, Kaebnick said, simply have not kept up with the cost of living in Nassau County.
Union president Faren Siminoff said full-time faculty has made sacrifices for the better part of a decade now.
“It’s time the college acknowledges this, and it starts by giving us a fair contract,” Siminoff said. “Some speakers (at the meeting) emphasized the plight of ‘junior’ faculty, those hired after 2014. Their first-year salaries are below $60,000.”
Add in mandatory contributions into pensions and health insurance premiums, would cost an additional $10,000 for family coverage in the New York State Health Insurance Program Empire Plan — and even more if the faculty member is enrolled in the Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plan.
Low starting salaries lead to difficulty attracting qualified applicants, the union said.
NCC attorney John Gross told the Herald that employee contributions to health insurance premiums are a common structure at colleges, businesses and municipalities throughout the nation.
“The college and the faculty union agreed some time ago that if health insurance premiums increase during negotiations, the cost is passed along to those enjoying coverage,” Gross said.
Gross maintains that a provision in the union’s previous contract allows increases in health insurance costs to be passed on to educators if they go up while no contract is in place.
That leaves it up to the union members to shoulder those additional costs through payroll deductions.
Gross maintains that a provision in the union’s previous contract allows increases in health insurance costs to be passed on to educators if they go up while no contract is in place. That leaves it up to the union members to shoulder those additional costs through payroll deductions.