Cayuga Community College adjunct professors wishing to unionize met a roadblock Wednesday when the college filed an appeal of a decision allowing the instructors to organize.
In an April 8 ruling, state Public Employment Relations Board Judge Nancy Burritt confirmed adjuncts could form their own bargaining unit, separate from the existing full-time faculty union.
Roughly 200 part-time faculty have signed cards expressing their interest in forming a union. Last fall, according to the New York State United Teachers union, approximately 850 students, faculty and community members signed petitions in support of the effort.
CCC interim president Dr. Gregory DeCinque, has said the college and its board of trustees does not object to an adjunct union. The college would, however, prefer part-time faculty fold into the current faculty bargaining unit, the Faculty Association of Cayuga Community College.
"We have never opposed their unionization. We could have, but we didn't," DeCinque said.
Rather, CCC has pursued recourse determining the legality of an adjunct union on campus by seeking the Public Employment Relations Board judgment. Despite the ruling in favor of adjuncts, the college acted on its right Wednesday to appeal the decision.
"We believe we have a strong case," DeCinque said.
In anticipation of the appeal, NYSUT paid for a full-page advertisement in the May 6 The Citizen imploring the college to not "waste money" on legal fees "to line lawyers' pockets through endless appeals."
"I think we're spending public funds in an appropriate way to mitigate long-term costs to students and the public," DeCinque said Wednesday. "We already have four contracts we negotiate."
The college has a history of complex contract negotiations that stretch its resources and "go on for years," he said. "We have a responsibility to the public."
Yet, adjunct unions exist at several SUNY community colleges — Mohawk Valley, Finger Lakes, Niagara and Schenectady — without money spent to fight the forming of those unions, said Trudy Rudnick, a NYSUT organizer.
"Why is the college doing this," Rudnick said. "Every other adjunct union formed has done so without any legal recourse.
"I really don't understand it."
For the last seven years, English professor Chris Motto has been an adjunct on CCC's Auburn campus as well as at SUNY-Oswego, where she's a member of that school's part-time union. Having local union representation, she said, would provide adjuncts with a sense of job security and afford them respect.
"It's important that that's recognized," Motto said.