FFECC Member message - Fact finding session letter


Fact finding session letter


The FFECC leadership team met to begin the process of Impact Bargaining with the College on March 24 and met again on April 7 related to the downsizing and possible elimination of the South campus. Fact finding was the purpose of much of the Labor-Management meeting, with our NYSUT Labor Relation Specialist and your team reviewing the plan, or lack thereof.


Three distinct areas require our careful attention: deactivation of programs, consolidation of 3 campus offerings from South campus, and additional programs that should maintain a presence as South campus. We are currently reviewing materials and contractual considerations for a formal response to this downsizing effort. Additional conversations will include the impact on our non-teaching areas at South and beyond, as well. The FFECC Leadership team and NYSUT will respond to the impact on members and a process for each of the three major areas of concern. Meetings with the college will be forthcoming and we will update you as information becomes clarified.


The work we have been doing on several fronts trying to minimize these draconian cuts. We are working with other labor organizations to address our concerns. I have been working with the NYSUT President, and the Director of Legislation, lobbying members of the WNY State delegation and its leadership and the Governor’s office to gain additional funding for a continued Southtowns presence.


The county leaders seem to believe that there has been a change in the demographics of the Southtowns, particularly lower graduation rates. According to Southtowns school superintendents, reporting to NYSUT, graduation rates have been static in the last few years, and some districts have increased, such as Eden. We believe the College could have gained a larger share of the high school population had it marketed its programs more effectively. Poor marketing, changes resulting from the pandemic and plans for the new stadium seem to have been the contributing factors to this decision, more so than enrollment issues, in my opinion, despite what is being publicly said.


We have developed a proposal, spearheaded by NY State Senators Ryan & Kennedy, who will push forward to ensure the college maintains a presence of our higher enrolled programs in the Southtowns; if approved this would include a one-time capital funding earmark of $25 million. NYSUT President Andy Pallotta, Alithia Rodrigues-Rolon, NYSUT Director of Legislation, and I have been tirelessly working directly with the senators and their staffs, and the Governor's office to secure these dollars.


Sunday after the RA, I was contacted by Assemblyman Pat Burke, asking specifics on this proposal as a member of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. This is evidence the proposal is being taken seriously, and our representatives care about the college’s success. These dollars, if approved, will save FFECC jobs!!!

While the College itself should have taken the initiative on finding creative solutions, we have been able to convince the College President and the County Executive to support our initiative for this potential funding, but this would not be possible without the leadership of our state union, and state and local political action activities prior to this crisis.


FFECC and NYSUT are consistently at work to support our members and ensure our livelihoods and contractual protections, even when a crisis is not evident to the public. We rely on Vote Cope and Local PAC contributions to help us maintain and continue this work. Please consider donating to either Vote Cope or Local PAC fund with at least $5 per check (Contact Sara Riggie at ffeccoffice@gmail.com or see our website).

This is not just a South campus issue; this is a college-wide Crisis. What affects one member, affects all members. We must be positive, and work together; we cannot retreat into our offices and classrooms, hoping that as individuals we are not going to be affected by this crisis. An administration that strikes at some programs is capable of striking at any program.


We are Western New York. Why not both, a stadium and a college presence? Education should be funded as a real priority! Forward thinkers in our community should be considering how to partner these elements to benefit WNY.


So, let's be positive and see what happens!! The budget details are coming out slowly; I will update you the proposed funding and the colleges state support. More to come!!!


Sincerely,

Andrew Sako

President, Faculty Federation of Erie Community College

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