FFECC President's message - 3/17/22
March 17, 2022
Fellow FFECC members,
Last week the President announced that the college has dire financial issues which require cutting costs through restructuring, deactivating some low-enrolled programs and eliminating personnel in all bargaining units.
Your leadership team has met with the President and Provost on multiple occasions since this announcement, addressing these issues as well as the chaotic Fall scheduling process. We have pushed back on the proposed draconian cuts and potential campus closure, explaining that SUNY and State Ed has procedures for these potential actions. Additionally, our CBA has numerous member protections under the NYS Taylor Law. We have informed the college that they have violated the scheduling and course selection process, along with the timeline laid out in our CBA and clarified in an MOU. If the schedules are not released this week, we will proceed with an action.
I have begun the process of lobbying the Western New York Area Labor Federation, local unions, political leaders, and community allies to help address the financial concerns and student access issues in the Southtowns and all of Erie County. We must also find ways to renovate and repurpose facilities, improve services to students and update program offerings, as needed. To reinvent SUNY Erie will take planning and financial resources. Planning requires timeframes in conjunction with strategic marketing; only then will our partners fund the college appropriately. Slash and burn is not the solution, destined to only diminish the standing of our institution until SUNY Erie is reduced to nonexistence.
We all are aware of the reasons that have led to this current crisis: lack of adequate funding from our sponsors, state cuts at the time of highest enrollment, gross mismanagement, lack of modernization and infrastructure upgrades, no real plan for marketing, changing demographics, few real partnerships with local industry -- then COVID hit. All these issues, along with COVID, have contributed to our college’s downward spiral. We must find ways to increase enrollment, secure additional funding and improve services to our students.
The FFECC Collective Bargaining Agreement and the New York State Taylor Law require the college to impact bargain immediately regarding the potential closure, deactivations, or movement of programs at the South campus location.
The content of impact bargaining is limited and would include the issues below.
Reinforce the fact that there are procedures and guidelines for deactivation of programs, relocations and potential campus closures within SUNY, State Education Department and Middle States. Stressing also that the community and elected officials have some voice in this matter as well.
Discussing any relocation and/or merger of single academic units to other locations.
Determining course scheduling and teach out duration during the deactivation periods for courses
Promoting a potential satellite campus in the Southtowns and staffing arrangements for remaining programs if a closure becomes a reality.
Developing possible multi-campus program mergers and relocation including how faculty, course offerings, seniority & bumping procedures and all other related contractual concerns will be handled.
Negotiating a retirement incentive
Presenting creative alternatives to retrenchment as well as recall rights.
The NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist and I, along with the FFECC leadership team will be meeting on March 24th to begin the impact bargaining process to formally resolve these issues. The goal of the meeting is to limit the impact of the college’s decisions on the membership through a solution-based approach, counteracting the current destructive “solution” posited by our new President. The leadership team and I will keep you informed as more information becomes available. We will also be scheduling meetings to keep you informed within the next few days. Members will be notified shortly of upcoming meetings.
President, Faculty Federation of Erie Community College