STLCC professor, part of union negotiating team, slammed to the ground, fired for trying to speak his mind

3
161
PROFESSOR ASSAULT: St. Louis Community College adjunct professor Steve Taylor, a 53-year-old mathematics teacher and grandfather, was body slammed to the floor Oct. 19 while trying to speak to the Board of Trustees of St. Louis Community College. Taylor suffered an abrasion to his face, shoulder injury and a cracked rib and was banned from campus the next day. Adjuncts in the community college system voted to join Service Employees International Union Local 1 in 2015 and are still negotiating for a first contract. – St. Louis Faculty Forward/SEIU Local 1 photo

By TIM ROWDEN
Editor

A St. Louis Community College adjunct professor was body slammed to the ground by a campus police officer at the college’s Board of Trustees meeting Oct. 19 for trying to speak his mind. The next day, the college fired him.

The instructor, Steve Taylor, had been a part of the adjunct faculty union’s negotiations with administration over pay raises and other issues. Adjuncts at the college have been trying to reach agreement on a first contract since they voted to join Faculty Forward with Service Employees International Union Local 1 in 2015.

Nancy Cross, vice president and Missouri Director of SEIU Local 1 said bargaining with the community college was set to resume last week.

RESTRICTING
FREE SPEECH

Taylor was one of several faculty members and students who attended the Board of Trustees meeting to urge administrators to negotiate a fair contract with the adjuncts. The meeting was uneventful as administrators spoke and audience members politely applauded their presentations, but when it was the faculty and students’ turn to speak the board’s state appointed Vice Chair Rodney Gee admonished students for applauding a Missouri NEA member and told them if they applauded again they would be removed.

That’s when Taylor spoke up, intending to make a point about the board “restricting free speech.”

“It disturbed me,” he said. “I stood up and said, ‘Excuse me, how is it that we can clap for the chancellor and administrators but not for anyone else?’”

GRABBED FROM BEHIND

Taylor was walking toward the front of the room where board members were seated. He said he intended to turn around and address the audience when he got there, but he never got the chance.

A campus police officer grabbed him from behind, without warning, and when Taylor instinctively leaned forward, body slammed him to the concrete floor. Taylor said he didn’t know who had grabbed him or what was happening until he hit the floor. He suffered an abrasion above his right eye, injured his shoulder and a cracked rib.

Taylor was dragged from the room and issued two citations by St. Louis police for peace disturbance and resisting arrest. He was later taken to a hospital for his injuries.

St. Louis police said the community college officer grabbed Taylor after he “aggressively forced his way toward board members,” according to an arrest report.

The college released a statement claiming Taylor “charged the table where board members were seated.”

In photos, board members, some slouched in their chairs, don’t appear the least bit alarmed. The only ones who look shocked and frightened are students and faculty members in the audience.

After Taylor was taken away, and a student who objected and was told to leave, board members resumed their meeting as though nothing had occurred.

“I in no way went there to protest,” Taylor said. “I went there to dialogue.”

NO LONGER ALLOWED ON CAMPUS

The next day Taylor an adjunct professor of mathematics who received the 2015 STLCC-Wildwood’s Faculty to Faculty Award – an annual honor presented to adjunct instructors who demonstrate excellence in teaching and support of student success – received a letter from the college telling him that he was no longer allowed on campus.

Taylor has a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics and a master’s degree in mathematics. He teaches – or taught – intermediate algebra, college algebra, pre-calculus and calculus at St. Louis Community College’s Wildwood campus, Harris Stowe State University in St. Louis and Jefferson College in Hillsboro. The eight classes he taught earned him about $30,000 a year.

He said adjuncts, who receive no benefits, or even office space on campus, and are hired on semester-to-semester contracts, have been asking for seniority protection and a modest raise.

“Right now, you can teach for years and be replaced at the whim of an administrator by someone off the street,” he said.

ADJUNCT INSTRUCTOR Steve Taylor, seen here during a press conference at the offices of SEIU Local 1, suffered a facial abrasion, injury to his shoulder and a cracked rib when he was body slammed by a St. Louis Community College campus police officer after trying to speak out for adjunct faculty last week at the college’s Board of Trustees meeting. – Labor Tribune photo

‘THE IDEA THAT HE WAS A THREAT IS ABSURD’

Taylor joined fellow adjuncts, students, State Representative Karla May (D-St. Louis) and the Rev. Martin Rafanan, for a press conference the next day at the offices of SEIU Local 1.

“The idea that he was a threat is absurd,” said Michael Marino, 25, an education major who led a recent student camp-in protest for adjuncts on the college’s Meramec campus in Kirkwood. 

“We camped out in the quad to protest the unfair treatment of our faculty,” Marino said. “I could not think of a more outstanding or visceral example than what happened last night. It was astounding but, at the same time, it wasn’t surprising.”

COLLEGE SHOULD BE WILLING TO HAVE THE CONVERSATION

Representative May, a member of Communication Workers of America Local 6300 and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, expressed anger and frustration over the incident.

“These are places that are supposed to educate our children,” May said. “You have to ask yourself, ‘What impact does this have?’

“Why is it that our community colleges are unwilling to engage in a contract situation for people who provide a service to our community?” she asked. “Our community colleges should be willing to have this conversation. They should be willing to hear the concerns of the adjunct faculty who are providing the service that the students are paying for.”

‘WE STAND WITH YOU’

“St. Louis Community College is our college,” Rev. Rafanan, a member of the Missouri Jobs with Justice Workers’ Rights Board said. “It belongs to all of us.”

Turning to Taylor, he added, “I feel like I need to apologize to you for what this institution has done in our name. It is not right. We cannot stand for it. We stand with you. We are going to be in solidarity with you the whole way.”

3 COMMENTS

  1. Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

  2. THIS is a TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE!!!??? This professor did NOTHING WRONG!!! Our Country since the likes of trump has been in office has become like a police state where NO ONE is ALLOWED TO SPEAK if you are in DISAGREEMENT with the powers that be!? What happened to our Freedom of Speech??? Is that a Right we have no more?! What is happening to our Country??? I’m FEARFUL of what is happening in our Country today ???

  3. I had just discovered a completely brilliant research paper on de Broglie’s paradox. I noticed the author as SM Taylor and Steven M. Taylor. I had to keep searching through other people with the same name but not the correct person. Finally I identified it as this person, only to discover this terrible tragedy. I truly appreciate Steven M. Taylor’s research, as it is an amazingly rare work of genius.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here