Students Support LIU Professors in Contract Dispute: "End the Lockout, Negotiate & Let Us Learn"

Web ExclusiveSeptember 09, 2016

This was supposed to be the first week of classes at Long Island University, but the administration barred all 400 members of the faculty union from its Brooklyn campus.

“Right now, students are being taught by replacement workers,” Larry Banks, an LIU professor and chair of its Media Arts Department, told Democracy Now! on Friday.

"This is unacceptable that on my first day of class our teachers are locked out, after paying so much money to go to college,” added Carlos Calzadilla an incoming freshman who moved from Florida to attend the school. “End the lockout, negotiate, and let us learn."

Watch the video from today’s action with LIU professors and students to learn more.

Special thanks to Democracy Now! producer Charina Nadura for this report.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

PROTESTER: What do we want?

PROTESTERS: Our professors!

PROTESTER: When do we want them?


PROTESTER: What do we want?

PROTESTERS: Our professors!

PROTESTER: When do we want them?


REBECCA STATES: I’m Becky States. I’m a professor of physical therapy. Right now I am not working. I am not getting paid. I am not getting benefits of any sort, including health benefits. I am ready to work, but the university says, "No, you cannot enter the campus. You are locked out," because we have a dispute about our union contract. So we’re a unionized faculty, and our contract expired August 31st. We said we’re happy to keep working, but they said, "No, you can’t keep working, because you don’t accept our terms and conditions."

KIYONDA HESTER: Hi. My name is Kiyonda Hester. I’m here at LIU, a Brooklyn university. I’m a social work grad student. Tuesday was the start of classes. We got a letter from Kimberly Cline, our president, which stated that there was a lockout, but everything should be fine, and they will have adequate teaching from the staff that they provided for us. That was not the case. We had professors not show up. We also had professors come in and literally look at us and say, "I’m not qualified. Sorry. Hope this ends next week," and took attendance, and people left. It’s been really topsy-turvy. She basically lied to us. And as students, we organized to come together to get our professors back.

PROTESTERS: Resign, Dr. Cline! Resign, Dr. Cline! Resign, Dr. Cline!

HILDI HENDRICKSON: My name’s Hildi Hendrickson. I have a Ph.D. in anthropology. I’ve been teaching here since 1994. And I don’t know how somebody like Cline can heartlessly shut off healthcare on a bunch of real human beings. You know? She knows who we are. She knows our faces. She should know a whole lot more about us than she does.

LARRY BANKS: My name is Larry Banks. I’m the chair of the Media Arts Department. I’ve been here at Long Island University for 15 years. And I’m outside the gate because the administration has locked us out. This is the first time this has happened in the country. And I feel horrible. There has never, ever been the administration saying, "Teachers can’t teach. We won’t allow it." That’s never happened. Never happened before in the history of education in this country.

REBECCA STATES: So, we have about 8,000 students on campus, and all of them are taught by our faculty. There are about 250 full-time faculty and a couple hundred adjunct faculty. All of us are locked out. Right now, students are being, quote-unquote, "taught" by replacement workers who were hired over—some of them hired over the summer, not by the departments and the faculty, who normally hire adjuncts, but by human resources. And they weren’t told what was going on.

CARLOS CALZADILLA: My name is Carlos Calzadilla. I’m a freshman poli-sci major. I came from Florida on Wednesday, actually. I arrived at 2:00, 2:00 a.m., and then I jumped into the protest at 8:00. This is unacceptable that on my first day of class, you know, our teachers are locked out. After paying so much money to go to college, as it is in the United States, we have to demand the administration end a lockout that’s never happened in American history? It’s just unacceptable. My message to President Cline is, please, end the lockout, negotiate, and let us—let us learn.

HILDI HENDRICKSON: I feel sick to my stomach. We are being treated like a bunch of undifferentiated workers, replaceable cogs in a machine.

LARRY BANKS: Right now, we’re fighting to get back in the classroom, so that we can teach our students, and we can continue negotiations on a fair and equitable contract for the faculty.

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