P-Fac threatens complaint

By Lisa Schulz

Columbia’s part-time faculty union, P-Fac, is threatening to file an unfair labor practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board on grounds that the college has refused to provide bargaining dates to resume negotiations for a labor contract with the administration.

The administration offered an extended contract proposal Dec. 19, 2011. P-Fac has not formally responded to the proposal but has been highly critical of it.

Both parties have not met for contract negotiations since Oct. 28, 2011, following a disagreement regarding negotiation protocol and the departure of the

federal mediator.

Javier Ramirez of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, who served as mediator was fired by the administration, according to Diana Vallera, P-Fac president and adjunct faculty member in the Photography Department.

However, Interim Associate Provost Len Strazewski contends Ramirez voluntarily took a recess because the two sides were too far apart.

Contacted for a response, Ramirez said, “when hired by either side, it’s hard to

be fired.”

Vallera said the union gave Ramirez negotiation dates, and he in turn gave them to the college. The administration has not provided P-Fac with “alternative dates to meet or mutually acceptable dates,” she said.

“My understanding is that it[’s] their legal obligation to provide such dates and as today, the college still refuses to provide dates and we believe they are in violation of labor law, which unfortunately leaves us no choice but to file another ULP,” Vallera wrote in an email.

According to Strazewski, Ramirez told him in an email to contact him when the issues between P-Fac and the college are narrowed down. Strazewski said he doesn’t think both parties are at that stage yet, and the college is awaiting either a response to the contract or a counterproposal from P-Fac.

“I’m a little disturbed people are saying that we aren’t bargaining,” he said. “We are bargaining with the contract proposal. We can still bargain without doing it face-to-face. You can bargain with documents.”

Bargaining for a new contract has been ongoing for more than two years.