P-Fac voters stay the course

By Samuel Charles

Members of Columbia’s adjunct faculty union, P-Fac, showed their satisfaction with current contract negotiations by electing members of the negotiations team to the union’s Steering Committee, further demonstrating the rift between opposing factions within the union itself.Both contract negotiations—one regarding the Photography Department’s controversial course-credit reduction, as well as a 1 percent pay raise—have been debated extensively between both P-Fac and the college, as well as within the union itself.

The Steering Committee, is responsible for nominating people to negotiate with the college on behalf of union members.

P-Fac’s current chief negotiator, Diana Vallera of the Photography Department, was named president.

The others elected to office are Vice President Janina Ciezadlo, of the History, Humanities and Social Sciences Department; Secretary John Stevenson of the HHSS Department; and Treasurer Dale Chapman, of the Film Department.

The four new steering committee members ran for election together under the “Standing Together” slate.

Joe Laiacona, adjunct faculty member in the Interactive Arts and Media Department, formed an opposing slate called “No Unification Since 1997” with six other P-Fac members. He, along with the rest of the slate, disagreed with the goals and ideas of the “Standing Together” slate and worked as their oppsition to get elected into the Steering Committee.

Laiacona was P-Fac’s vice president last year. He was voted out of his position after receiving 70 votes, the fifth highest number.

“The vote totals overwhelmingly showed what the rank and file wanted, and that’s what they got,” Laicona said. “I’m not going to be a sore loser because I don’t think there was much of a controversy as to what we all want to accomplish: what’s best for the students and what’s best for the part-timers.”worked as their opposition to get elected into the Steering Committee.

Laiacona was P-Fac’s vice president last year. He was voted out of his position after receiving 70 votes, the fifth highest number.

“The vote totals overwhelmingly showed what the rank and file wanted, and that’s what they got,” Laiacona said. “I’m not going to be a sore loser because I don’t think there was much of a controversy as to what we all want to accomplish: what’s best for the students and what’s best for the part-timers.”

The majority of voting union members, however, supported and agreed with the “Standing Together” slate.

“[Members of the] ‘Standing Together’ slate really shared the same goals,” Vallera said. “Some of our aims are to improve the climate for teaching at Columbia and to challenge Columbia to value experienced faculty. We want a unified front.”

Candidates did not run for one specific position. Instead, their roles were determined by the number of votes received. Whoever had the most votes was named president, and the three next highest vote recipients became the vice president, secretary and treasurer. In “Standing Together,” though, the four elected to represent P-Fac chose their positions independently.

To round out the top four positions, Vallera acquired 224 votes, Chapman garnered 222, 206 votes were cast for Ciezadlo and Stevenson received 198.

“Our campaign illustrated what we want the Steering Committee to be: modern, energized and competent,” Chapman said.

In addition to the four officers, there are three other members of the Steering Committee who will be working to help members of the part-time union. They are voted for at the Department Representatives’ Assembly.

For every 10 adjunct faculty members in a department, that department will have one P-Fac representative.

At the assembly on Nov. 19, the membership, negotiations and publicity chairs were voted in unanimously by different department representatives.

According to P-Fac, the membership chair, Christina Gonzalez-Gillett, handles membership records and sends new Bargaining Unit members—part-time faculty members covered by the contract—information about the union. The negotiations chair, Marylou Carroll, is responsible for keeping track of contract negotiations between P-Fac and the college.

Publicity chair Nancy Traver is the editor of “P-fac News,” the union’s newsletter, and also handles internal and external publicity and media

communications.

The Steering Committee is hoping to see more involvement from union members next year.

“For a long time, the Steering Committee has just been a closed shop and run[s] things as they see fit,” Chapman said. “We want [department representatives] trained, more communication with all the members and the entire membership active and engaged all the time.”

Vallera said the new leadership is not interested in addressing the previous Steering Committee’s difficulties with the college.

“We’re really excited, we want to move forward,” Vallera said. “We’re just excited to get everyone involved in different avenues.”

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