Meet the Bargaining Committee

Richard Dorritie, Rory Meyers College of Nursing

Clinical Assistant Professor

I have been a CFU member since I first learned of the union & long before we won the election. I have been an active member of the organizing and communications committees. I was at the table with other members for the past year as we bargained and WON the shape and size of our unit – bigger and stronger than the NLRB would have made us. I was an at the table ensuring we won the right to have nursing represented! I am a fighter and a listener, and I will ensure we all move upward as a union together. I have walked our lines, both in support of other unions and our own. I have handed out flyers, organized members, networked and fought for our union. I have a long history of being active in unions, including as a member of 1199 and NYSNA. As a nurse and member of the most trusted profession, I guarantee I will represent everyone and be ready to throw down the gauntlet if/when it is needed to ensure our victory, but possess the poise to handle any situation with calm, calculated reason, just like an emergency nurse should. Below are a few links to media coverage of how I have engaged in solidarity with of our movement. 

NYU labor groups stage May Day protest  

Stream episode Contract Faculty United- UAW Decision | Sachin Sundar by WNYU Radio podcast | Listen online for free on SoundCloud

Elisabeth Fay, Expository Writing Program (Arts & Science)

Clinical Associate Professor

I joined CFU’s organizing committee in spring semester of 2017, and I’ve never stepped away. Over the past seven years, I’ve knocked on office doors in every school and spoken with hundreds of contract faculty across dozens of programs and departments. If you’re reading this, odds are good that I’ve sent you at least one email or text message about our union. In my conversations with colleagues, I’ve heard stories of bullying and harassment; of onerous visa schedules and bureaucratic labyrinths; of overstretched parents and caregivers to aging parents; of underpay and (increasingly, overwhelmingly) of overwork. I know how different our jobs can look across the labs, classrooms, studios, and offices where we work, and I’ve learned just how important our work is to NYU. We are half the full-time faculty, we do the lion’s share of teaching and service, and our institutional knowledge makes us absolutely crucial to this university’s day-to-day operations.  

When the NYU administration first responded to our majority petition, their lawyers wanted to exclude hundreds of contract faculty from our union on the dubious grounds that many common service positions should be considered “managerial.” Because we’re the first large union of our kind, the NYU lawyers had very few precedents to consider; they kept pushing rationales that didn’t map neatly onto our workplace. I advocated for a strong and decisive response, and worked to turn out dozens of contract faculty currently holding these positions to teach the lawyers how misguided the proposed exclusions were. Our strategy was effective, and we won a large, inclusive bargaining unit. If elected, I will continue to insist on frameworks that actually make sense for our jobs, and stand firm against further attempts to divide us. 

Organizing our union has shown me that none of us can achieve our aims in isolation. NYU CLAWS, the coalition of campus labor unions and student activist groups that I helped found, has been an essential resource in CFU’s voluntary recognition campaign, and I want to continue using the networks I’ve developed to connect our BC with NYU faculty, staff, and students. By working in coalition with others, we can build on previous successes and ensure we’re making strategic decisions. I’m excited to take our next steps together, and I’m hopeful about the university we’re building. Protecting our jobs with a strong union contract is the best way I know to protect academic freedom and the integrity of an NYU education.

Robin Harvey, Teaching & Learning (Steinhardt)

Clinical Associate Professor

I am a Clinical Associate Professor in the Steinhardt Department of Teaching and Learning. I am excited to be a member of our union and to have the opportunity to represent clinical faculty on the bargaining committee. Clinical faculty are integral to the life of NYU. We do so much of the work of the university, yet many of us do not receive commensurate salary, benefits or respect.

During the recent campaign to unionize, I spoke with many of you about your concerns. Many spoke about the challenges of balancing family and work, especially childcare and the high cost of health insurance. This is a struggle I know well from my early days at NYU as a single mom with small children. (They are grown now, so I also know the limitations of the tuition remission program!) Others spoke of more general challenges: 12-month contracts with few breaks from teaching, salary compression, demands for research and arts production with no time allotted for that work, concerns about health care and other retirement benefits, and more. If elected to the bargaining committee, I commit to learning even more about your concerns so that we can negotiate a contract that offers significant improvements to our conditions.

We have an opportunity to reach a strong contract that will lift all of our circumstances. I feel this responsibility to our community deeply. I am ready, eager and committed to do the work with our elected bargaining committee to negotiate a fair, transparent contract that betters conditions for all clinical faculty.

Peter Li, General Engineering (Tandon)

Industry Assistant Professor

I am an Industry Assistant Professor in the General Engineering program at NYU Tandon. I started at then-Polytechnic University as an Adjunct Lecturer in 2007. As a member of the Organizing Committee since Spring 2017, I helped rally folx in Brooklyn around key points in our effort to unionize.

While I have not bargained a union contract before, I do have a fair bit of experience working with the Adjunct contract. Since I do the Adjunct scheduling in our program, I am oftentimes involved in discussions around many of the articles in the Adjuncts’ Collective Bargaining Agreement with NYU. If elected, I am hopeful that this experience will inform the decisions we make at the table.

Jacob Remes, Gallatin School of Individualized Study

Clinical Associate Professor

My work to build our union—which I joined in summer 2019—is the thing I am proudest of in my life. In the past five years, I’ve done a lot with CFU. Most notably, I have been communications chair, which means I write many of the emails you get from the Organizing Committee and am frequently the press spokesperson. I also helped coordinate the strategy of the ten-month negotiation process with the administration’s lawyers that won our groundbreaking election agreement. I am deeply honored that mine is one of the signatures on that agreement.

I have been in and around the academic labor movement for 25 years, ever since I discovered it as an undergraduate. Before I came to NYU, my SUNY colleagues elected me as a statewide delegate to United University Professions, the AFT local that represents academics and professional employees across all 32 SUNY campuses and hospitals; I’ve also worked on SEIU, UNITE HERE, and UFCW campaigns. Academically, I work at the intersection of disaster studies and labor history, and I have been executive secretary and a board member of the Labor and Working-Class History Association. Outside the university, I’m active in Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and on the board of the Sharon (Conn.) Historical Society.

The grad workers who first taught me about academic unionism when I was in college had a slogan: “get it in writing.” I would be excited and proud to represent my coworkers on the Bargaining Committee to get it in writing. One of my favorite things about the work I’ve done with our union has been talking to and learning from my colleagues across the university. I love my job and want to protect what’s good about it and to improve what could be better—and to do the same for all contract faculty across NYU.

Benedetta Piantella, Technology, Culture, and Society (Tandon)

Industry Associate Professor

I joined the Contract Faculty United (CFU) union card drive in the fall of 2019, driven by a strong commitment to make NYU a fairer, better university for ourselves and for our students. As a dedicated organizer and creative practitioner, I have been deeply involved in our unionization efforts, including designing posters and graphics for our representation election, which successfully unified our voices in February. In the last year, I was part of the group negotiating with the administration’s legal team over our election agreement, and I took part in crafting the strategy and writing of our proposals, which equipped me with invaluable firsthand experience that I am eager to bring to the Bargaining Committee.

Over the past thirteen years, I have cultivated a multifaceted relationship with NYU, teaching both in the Tisch School of the Arts and the Tandon School of Engineering. My journey from Adjunct to Industry Associate Professor has given me a comprehensive understanding of the diverse operational frameworks within our university. I know how to navigate this confusing institutional landscape and understand the ways in which different schools and types of faculty work are different. But I’ve also seen how we share more than we differ. This experience, combined with my personal academic history as a graduate student of Tisch, allows me to empathize with and advocate for the varied needs of our contract faculty, as well as our student body. My enduring commitment to fostering an inclusive and supportive educational environment reflects my dedication to the NYU community as a whole. 

As a professor teaching studio-based courses and a parent of two young children (born during my time at NYU), I embody the diverse roles many of our colleagues balance daily. My perspective is shaped by these experiences, which resonate deeply with the challenges and aspirations of both practice-based professors as well as parent educators at NYU. I am passionate about ensuring that our contract reflects and supports the needs of faculty who juggle multiple demanding roles, advocating for conditions that enhance our professional engagements and personal well-being.

Chris Chan Roberson, Undergraduate Film and Television (Tisch)

Associate Arts Professor

I am an Associate Arts Professor in Undergraduate Film and Television.  I am running for the Bargaining Committee because I want to use my 20 years of experience of working with different departments at NYU to help unify and strengthen efforts at Tisch.

I was a Freshman at NYU in 1994, graduated in 1998, then returned to teach one year later in 1999.  I was an adjunct for several years until I became a full time teacher in 2004.  When Mary Schmidt Campbell was the Dean of Tisch, she appointed me the Executive Director of the Talent Identification Process.  This was where I worked with all departments of Tisch to help recruit students the way sports schools recruited athletes.  I also worked with each department of Tisch to help create the Future Artist Programs, free high school programs offered by most of the departments on Saturdays in the Spring semester.

I’ve spent years of my life working with different departments of Tisch creating interconnectivity and communication and I believe my years of experience would be extremely helpful in bargaining for a better contract for everyone.

Jamie Root, French Literature, Thought and Culture (Arts & Science)

Clinical Associate Professor of French

My name is Jamie Root and I am a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of French Literature, Thought and Culture. I have worked at NYU for nearly 7 years and have been involved in the CFU since 2019. 

My interest in our union was sparked by the glaring pay disparity among the Continuing-Contract Faculty in my department, specifically the high rate of salary compression for many of my long-term colleagues. When I took these issues to the administration, while they assured me they were aware, no concrete plans were put forth to address the issue. As I stepped into the role of campus organizer, I quickly learned that this is by no means unique to FAS. This issue, as well as our overall compensation and salary increases, is something that must be addressed as we experience the ever climbing cost of living in NYC and rates of inflation, which are making it more and more impossible for CCF to live comfortably in the city, especially those being paid the current base salary and those currently be dealing with factors such as healthcare costs, visa sponsorship fees, childcare costs, etc. 

For the past several years I have served as a voice for my colleagues in French and other language professors in FAS, but going forward I would like the opportunity to help serve as one of the voices for our entire bargaining unit. Although our departments and schools may have their differences, we as CCF all looking for the same thing: a contract that will protect and improve the our current situation as we continue to dedicate our time and energy to our students and to the university. 

I recognize the huge commitment that being a bargaining committee member requires and am ready and willing to take on that responsibility to help ensure that we as CCF obtain a fair and advantageous contract. 

Fanny Shum, Mathematics (Courant)

Clinical Assistant Professor

I believe that every individual deserves to receive equitable representation and a platform to voice their concerns in all negotiations. As a candidate for the CFU-UAW Bargaining Committee, my commitment lies in actively engaging with my fellow members and grasping the wide range of perspectives from across the university. As a Clinical Assistant Professor of Mathematics in Courant, I provide more insight into the STEM segment of our contract faculty unit. However, given the considerable diversity within CFU-UAW, I understand the importance of investing the necessary time and effort to comprehend the nuances of each perspective, developing an understanding of collective needs and aspirations. I promise to bring who I am and my expertise to that collective task.

Heidi White, Liberal Studies

Clinical Professor

My name is Heidi White, and I’m a Clinical Professor in Liberal Studies. I’m running for the bargaining committee because I think I could be useful in this role—having spent the last 10 years on the Contract-Faculty Senators Council, dealing with administration policies. I believe I’ve acquired a certain measure of experience in trying to win more concessions for us.

In all these efforts, I’ve seen our senate council score some wins, but we’ve also had some losses.

As chair of the Personnel Policies & Contract Issues Committee, I’ve reviewed nearly all the reappointment and promotion policies at NYU’s various schools, and I’ve submitted recommendations for improvement to the provost. Sometimes, these recommendations were accepted, but on other occasions, they were rejected out of hand—with virtually no explanation. To compare policies among the different schools and to make their many inconsistencies public, I put together the “25 Principles and Reappointment & Promotion Policies Matrix.” This work, I believe, has given me a stronger sense of what’s really needed when bargaining for better contracts, stronger grievance procedures, and greater job security.

I’ve also seen how our ability to get better working conditions has often been seriously hampered by our lack of legal standing to bargain with NYU as equals. But now that is changing.

I’m also especially concerned about the current lack of transparency, and absence of due process, when it comes to disciplinary complaints against C-Faculty. And I’ve seen this problem play out in particular cases in my role as chair of our council’s Grievance Committee.

In that role, I’ve helped a number of faculty members who were struggling to file official grievances. Many of these faculty members were forced to grieve or appeal their termination, their non-reappointment, their shorter contracts, or other difficulties, such as retaliation. It has become clear to me that further reappointment and promotion protections are absolutely necessary at NYU. I’ve also seen a serious lack of transparency, and a lack of a fair process, in the procedures of the Office of Equal Opportunity, when faculty members have been accused of bias or discrimination. I would like to see these procedures fundamentally improved. (On this further subject, our committee submitted a Resolution regarding Proposed Safeguards for the Office of Equal Opportunity’s Current Method of Investigating Alleged Violations of the University’s Non-Discrimination Policy; however, no real changes have yet been made by the administration.)

I believe there are many things that need to be changed at NYU in the name of basic fairness, and I think I can contribute to that effort. I believe that the union organizers have done a fantastic job in uniting us, and I’d like to do my part too.