By John Ehrenberg
The lockout at LIU is over. The following message was posted by John Ehrenberg, chair of the Political Science department, to the mailing list of the New Political Science Section of the American Political Science Association. John has graciously given us permission to reprint his statement.
The students and faculty at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus have won a clear, unambiguous and historic victory against the forces threatening our livelihoods and our profession. In a brutal act that is without precedent, President Kimberly Cline locked out the faculty in the midst of negotiations for a new contract. She went all in with her nuclear option, and her reckless cruelty ignited a firestorm that buried her. The faculty refused to yield, the students were with us every step of the way, the press was friendly, local politicians supportive, fellow unionists in solidarity. We organized a ferocious counterattack that threatened the University’s accreditation, worked with sympathetic members of the City Council to deny millions of dollars in funding, had the Mayor on the verge of intervening directly and personally, contacted State Ed in Albany who wrote Cline a threatening letter. None of this, as important as it was, would have been possible without the alliance with the students, who boycotted, walked out, protested, petitioned, complained to the Department of Consumer Affairs, confronted, sat in. LIU’s Brooklyn Campus is an urban, working class institution filled with students of color, women, immigrant kids and first-generation college students. They work hard, juggle several balls at the same time, and rose to the occasion with historic acts of rebellion and defiance.
This is a very important victory. The lockout was the first one affecting college and university faculty in the history of the United States. Like it or not, we were in the front lines. This wonderful victory will make University Boards and Presidents think twice about trying this again.
There’s a lesson for all of us: Ronald Reagan is no longer President. This is the United States of Occupy, of Black Lives Matter, of Bernie Sanders, of the Standing Rock Sioux, and a hundred other democratic initiatives that are developing. No matter what happens in the election, the lesson is that courage, resistance, and principle can win in a struggle against a brutal, dishonest enemy.