icIthaca College (IC) contingent faculty have been bargaining with Ithaca College administrators for 17 months. Although some gains have been made through negotiations, The IC Contingent Faculty Union/SEIU Local 200United says they are not enough to address the primary concerns of the membership: fair pay and job stability. The contingent faculty union has decided to hold an on-campus vote on February 13th and 14th, which would authorize them to take action up to and including a strike.

Said contingent faculty and bargaining committee member Brody Burroughs, "We are deeply disappointed that that our administration has dragged out this process for so long under the guises of negotiating, when it is clear that they are not willing to consider our fundamental issues of pay inequality and teaching instability. We owe it to our contingent colleagues to allow them to decide for themselves by voting to fight for more or accept the status quo. That's the democratic process."

The contingent faculty union has seen overwhelming support from the Ithaca College community in the form of student and tenured faculty support. Over the past two weeks, departments have been coming forward in support with letters saying that they will not fill classes should a strike occur.

Tenured faculty member Chip Gagnon in the Politics Department said, "We are supporting our contingent colleagues because it's the right thing to do. They are as qualified as any of us, do the same important work as we do, and should be compensated at equivalent levels. By paying them unfairly low wages, the college is contributing to the erosion of our profession and higher education in general. This is about Ithaca College valuing and respecting the educational expertise of all of its faculty, tenured and untenured, full time and part-time, permanent and contingent."

Contingent faculty say that they are further outraged because while top administrators have given themselves lavish raises, they have continued to pay contingent faculty wages that allow many to qualify for public subsides.

Another bargaining committee and faculty member Megan Graham stated, "We can't believe that while they give themselves huge raises they are further dividing us into poverty. President Rochon's salary was $592,914 in 2014 and his total salary has increased by over $150,000 since 2010. Ignoring the problem will not fix it, if they don't address campus inequality, it will only increase. The backwards practice is what we expect out of Walmart and corporate America, but not higher education."

The contingent faculty union believes the college's current practice undermines the basic values of having a student centered college. Stated contingent faculty and bargaining committee member John Burger, "Our students are going into levels of debt that may burden them for the rest of their lives, while many of the faculty, including this one, earn the dubious distinction of qualifying for heat assistance. Our working conditions will soon be theirs and I believe we are in this fight together."

There are two more scheduled negotiation dates with the administration on February 21st and 24th. Contingent faculty members hope that the administration will come to the table with a real offer so that a strike can be avoided.