Long Island University students at the Brooklyn and Brookdale, Long Island campuses got their professors back at the stroke of midnight on Wednesday as the campus administration agreed to end its twelve-day lock-out of LIU faculty.
Faculty will return to class and teach under the conditions of their old contract, which expired on August 31. Both sides have until the end of May to reach a new agreement.
The Long Island Faculty Federation, the union that represents the locked out profs, had been girding for a fall—if not a winter—of discontent as both sides were far apart as late as Tuesday night. The ending of the unprecedented lockout, like the lockout itself, was unexpected.
"After 12 days of intransigence, the LIU administration discovered that denying students the education they deserve is not a successful strategy," said Jessica Rosenberg, president of the faculty union. "The LIU faculty is relieved this is over and is looking forward to immediately returning to the classroom."
The LIU brain trust had been selling the lock-out as a preemptive strike against a faculty walkout, and had referred to past strikes as precedents. In the aftermath of the decision to end the lockout, they gave the faculty union props for not striking and returning to class. Gale Haynes, LIU's chief operating officer and university counsel said in a statement, "The union's commitment not to strike during this academic year provides enough runway to reach a reasonable and fair agreement while providing our students the ability to continue their studies interrupted. That has always been our intention. Mediation is a positive step to that end." In the process, the university has agreed to a deal which is very similar to the one they rejected before they locked out their faculty.
Both sides will begin to kick the same can down the road. The major sticking point—money—still remains. A significant pay disparity remains between the suburban Brookdale campus in Long Island and the Brooklyn Campus, hard by Junior's cheesecake emporium at DeKalb and Flatbush. The Brookdale campus, known as C.W. Post College, has 550 students to Brooklyn's 8,000. The administration has said it can't accommodate the speed with which the Brooklyn professors are demanding pay parity.
While the lockout is over, the tension that it has engendered isn't going anywhere and could have another seven months to fester. A complaint the locked-out professors lodged with to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will go forward, and could result in sanctions and monetary penalties against the university. The NLRB complaint charges that the school refused to bargain in good faith and that changes were made to the terms and conditions of faculty employment.
The faculty union's 135 to 10 no-confidence vote against University president Kimberly Cline and vice president for academic affairs Jeffrey Kane will also remain. Some higher ed observers feared that a prolonged lock-out could have posed a threat to LIU's accreditation.