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If the faculty members of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) strike within the next month, the administration has threatened to fire them and hire new instructors, Derek Bradford, associate professor of Architecture and chairman of the faculty negotiating team, said yesterday.
Bradford added the administration also will penalize students who refuse to cross the picket lines to attend classes. He said the college will continue to fail students who miss three class meetings in a course.
"It's clearly a tactic to keep the students in class if we're fired," Bradford said. "The students have been publicly told to keep their heads down and do their work until all of this blows over," he added.
In a statement released yesterday, the RISD administration said, "While we feel there is little likelihood of a strike at this time, we recognize that the Faculty Association has formed a strike committee. Therefore, it is only prudent to make provisions for continuing instruction to students in the unfortunate event of a strike."
Bernard M. Singleton, assistant executive secretary of the National Education Association, the faculty union, said he "could see a strike perhaps within a month."
The faculty's primary complaint is not about money, Bradford said, but about job security--RISD offers no tenure. "All we have now is limited term contracts, after which a faculty member can be dismissed with no explanation whatsoever," he said.
Lee Hall, president of the college, refused to comment yesterday.
James Jackson, attorney for the administration, said yesterday, "Without commenting specifically on the RISD situation, it's basic in labor law that if an employee engages in a strike, it is within the rights of the employer to permanently replace that employee."
However, Singleton said that if the faculty files a suit against the administration for unfair labor practices at the time of the strike, the administration must rehire the instructors should the faculty win the suit.
Maja Bardot, a RISD librarian and vice-president of the Faculty Association, said the faculty would try to avert a strike if possible. "But it's almost as if the administration wants us to strike," she added.
Student support will be crucial if a strike occurs, Bradford said. "Students don't know their economic power--90 per cent of the college is funded by tuition."
Douglas M. Hertz, a Brown junior taking classes at RISD, said that most students he has talked to would support a strike.
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