The rally was the most fun I’ve had on a Wednesday at OCC in a long time. And judging by the emails and comments from others, that sentiment is shared by many. It was refreshing to see so many faces at the rally. It’s a sign that we’re ready to move forward and continue to push for what seems so obvious: to be treated with fairness and dignity at our workplace.
We need to continue to assert ourselves. As many of the rally signs noted, we have quite a bit to be proud of. Because of our excellent teaching, OCC is first among New Jersey community colleges in student retention and in degree completion.
You would think these kinds of results would be celebrated and rewarded. Instead, we find ourselves denigrated as mere “content providers” and under notice that we can replaced by computers. Rewards? How about no retroactive pay for four years, and under 2% raises for three years? It’s the college’s way of saying “thanks for all your hard work.”
After over 50 meetings and the college’s resistance to the super conciliator’s call for a narrow list of proposals, at this point it seems that the ongoing debacle of negotiations will continue.
What can we do?
For starters, we’re remaining professional and trying to set up a new round of meetings with the administration. Dr. Larson has stated he would like to come to a negotiation meeting, so we’re looking forward to communicating to him your concerns.
But we can’t just “speak” there: we need to make our voices heard throughout the campus. At the All Schools meeting, our pointed questions (some of which went unanswered) show that we’re engaged and looking for solutions to the problems on campus. We need to continue with these questions.
Another form of communication involves using the channels open to us as employees at a public college. Feeling harassed or being made uncomfortable by an administrator? An email to HR (it’s their job to ensure a comfortable work environment) is in order (please cc: dbordelon). Believe an academic policy isn’t working? Email the administration (and again, cc: dbordelon). Interested in a post on this web site? Chime in with a comment. Let the administration “hear” your voice.
Faculty want OCC to be what The Chronicle of Higher Education calls a “great place to work.” Since it’s clear the administration is doing all it can to ensure that will not come to pass, we need to shoulder the burden and try to make our workplace, well, workable. Of course, as Rob Furstoss (using the Chronicle survey of OCC) explained so well at the rally, we have a long way to go. We’ll get there, as the happily retired Herb German noted at the rally, by overcoming our fears: the rally demonstrates that we’ve already started.
For those of you wondering about press coverage, see the Asbury Park Press: http://www.app.com/story/news/education/college-news/2014/10/03/ocean-county-college-professors-protest/16651297/. Comments from faculty would be most appreciated.
And for those of you keeping count, we’re now at 1462 days without a contract: and still teaching.
Thanks for your continuing professionalism.