September 10, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said on Friday that Long Island University’s decision to lock out Brooklyn Campus instructors during the first week of class smacks of “Trumpism,” — while angry students jeered university President Kimberly Cline for depriving them of the education they expected when enrolling.
“I do not know a college president anywhere in the United States of America who would do what President Cline just did,” Weingarten told the faculty and students gathered outside Flatbush Avenue on Friday morning. “It is wrong. It is amoral. This is a bully that is like [Donald] Trump. It feels that ‘Trump-ism' has infected this campus.”
Long Island University administrators decided to lock out Brooklyn Campus instructors at 12:01 a.m. on September 3, instead of opting for a five week extension to the latest labor agreement with Long Island University Faculty Federation [LIUFF] instructors which expired on August 31. Scab instructors with dubious credentials began teaching classes this week.
“I just went up to a class and the professor that was supposed to be teaching is not even teaching us the right material and does not know what he’s talking about,” 26-year-old sophomore Virginia Rodriguez told LaborPress. “When I signed up for this class, I signed up for this [particular] professor. I went on RateMyProfessors.com — that’s the professor I wanted to take. And that’s not the professor I’m getting. I don’t know who this guy is, and he doesn’t even know the work. This is not right because the tuition here is very high. It makes me wan to drop out and go to another school.”
The members of four other unions on the Brooklyn Campus of LIU are also working without a contract.
Kimberly Jones, associate professor in the History Department, said that Brooklyn Campsus staffers are now working in an environment of “intimidation and bullying.”
“They’re working under duress,” the 25-year Brooklyn Campus professor said. “And since this [lockout] happened, they’re even more terrified that they can be replaced. There is an atmosphere of fear inside.”
Public Advocate Letitia James urged students inside the Brooklyn Campus to leave their classrooms and join their classmates outside on Flatbush Avenue.
“This is a teaching moment,” the public adocate said. “This is a moment of instruction in how to do things right and to respect the Union Movement. This is not Trump University. This is LIU. [President Cline] get back to the table, open up these doors and treat the faculty with respect. Otherwise, we will bring every union in this city to this campus and we will shut this campus down.”
Members of the Brooklyn Campus’ acclaimed modern dance troupe further denounced the hiring of scab instructors.
“We had a scab come in and tell us, ‘I’m not qualified to teach modern dance.’ Well, then why are you here?” dance student David Murray said.
Karen Magee, head of the New York State United Teachers, criticized Cline for both “losing her focus” and her “ability to lead.”
“This is unacceptable behavior,” Magee said. “What are your afraid of?"
LIU security refused to allow LaborPress access to the administrative offices. When later asked if the lockout would be ended, an LIU spokesperson said that the issue was “still in negotiation.”
“The fact that this administration took this unprecedented, contemptuous, hostile action, over Labor Day Weekend, has not escaped any of us,” LIUFF President Jessica Rosenberg said. “[But] We stand strong in opposition, we stand strong in solidarity — and we will take our campus back.”
Brooklyn Campus senior J’nae Simmons echoed Rosenberg’s call.
“The reason I chose LIU Brooklyn was its amazing faculty,” Simmons said. “Now that the faculty is locked out, I’m starting to question why I even chose LIU Brooklyn. I have an audition next week I don’t even feel ready for because I haven’t been in a ballet class yet. President Cline needs to stop this lockout and let our faculty back on campus because this is absurd.”