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November 2018


Three's a crowd: The scoop on FA contract negotiations
Cynthia Eaton


  kevin peterman
Kevin Peterman shares an overview of the contract bargaining process during one of the Ammerman Campus negotiations forums. (photo by Dante Morelli)

Jane McAlevey cuts right to the chase about effective bargaining in No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age.

In the book, she articulates why the union absolutely cannot be positioned as a separate entity, a "third party," between the employees and their employer. This happens when the employees see the union as separate and apart from them, as consisting of solely the elected leadership of the union—with leaders doing the work and making decisions for members rather than members doing the work and making decisions for themselves.

Avoiding the "third party" problem is especially critical during contract negotiations, McAlevey argues, and the solution is transparency:

Three questions can determine whether or not the union is a third party in the renegotiation of a collective bargaining agreement: Does the process involve every worker? Are negotiations fully transparent? Can any worker attend?

Fortunately, because the FA knows that three's a crowd, the answer is yes, yes and yes.

Member involvement

Every FA member is and needs to be involved in this contract negotiation process.

Alex Nohai-Seaman  
Executive Council representative Alex Nohai-Seaman listens intently during one of the Ammerman Campus negotiations forums. (photo by Dante Morelli)

The FA has been hosting negotations forums on all three campuses this semester—the Eastern Campus meetings are lined up for November—and everyone has been encouraged to attend and share their ideas for the next contract. We need the creative brainstorming, ideas and solutions of our members!

We've also offered repeatedly to come to any department meeting on any campus to explain the process and solicit feedback. Just contact the FA office ( or 631-451-4151) if you'd like to arrange this. Any member at any time can also send contract feedback, ideas, suggestions or questions directly to the FA via

Every single member will also be receiving a negotiations survey in their email inbox very soon, and we need every single member to complete and submit that survey. Your voice absolutely matters, and we need to know which items in the contract you deem to be of the highest priority. Nobody knows what your workplace looks like day in and day out better than you, so speak up and share your perspective.

Process overview

  Dante Morelli
Dante Morelli speaks with members during one of the Grant Campus negotiations forums. (photo by Kevin Peterman)

The FA believes that an informed membership is a happy membership. An overview of the process is below, and members will be kept apprised of how things are progressing via email and via The WORD.

To this end, it is important that you make sure you have a personal email address on file with the FA instead of your SCCC email address. You can give your personal email address to Anita ( or 631-451-4151).


  • September to December 2018: Negotiations forums and negotiations survey
  • November 2018: Negotiating committee formed with approval of Executive Council
  • January 2019: Based on membership feedback, committee creates and finalizes a "wish list"
  • Spring 2019: Negotiations begin with college and county
  • TBD: Executive Council votes on contract
  • TBD: Contract goes out to membership for a vote
  • TBD: SCCC Board of Trustees votes on contract
  • TBD: County gives final approval on contract

We have no choice but to list the final few items in the timeline with the date "to be determined" (TBD) because the progress of negotiations is determined by the actions of the college and the county. The FA would like to keep negotiations progressing as quickly and efficiently as possible, but we can predict neither what the college and the county will have to offer nor how often they'll be willing or able to meet with our negotiations team.

Committee Membership

All members are eligible to serve on the negotiations committee and any member selected will attend the meetings. This is the committee structure based on our Constitution and Bylaws:

  • Chief negotiator: Damon Levenstien, NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist
  • President: Kevin Peterman
  • Vice President: Dante Morelli
  • Representatives from all three campuses, with at least one member from each of the following areas:
  1. Professional Assistants / Specialists
  2. Adjuncts
  3. English
  4. Library
  5. Speech / Theatre / Broadcast Communications / Communications
  6. Computer Science / Accounting / Business Administration / Business Law / Legal Studies / Office Technology
  7. Math
  8. Foreign Language / ESL / Sign Language / Music / Visual Arts / Philosophy / Reading / Humanities
  9. Nursing / Health Careers / Nutrition / Chemical Dependency / Early Childhood / Physical Education / College Seminar
  10. Biology / Chemistry / Earth and Space Science / Fire Science / Culinary Arts / Physics / Automotive Technology / Engineering Technology
  11. Economics / History / Political Science / Criminal Justice / Psychology / Geography / Anthropology / Sociology
  12. Counseling

Once the team is approved by the Executive Council and work commences, stay tuned to The WORD and to your email for updates on the negotiations process.

It is critical that all of our members stay united and stay union strong throughout this process!