The Word - 2011/05/19

 

 

The Word from CSEA

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of May 19, 2011

ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK...

...in the Ohio Legislature. As the Ohio Senate discusses the state budget bill, there are indications that some Republican senators want to reinstitute changes proposed by the Governor in his budget proposal but that were removed by the Ohio House in its version of the budget bill. One of those changes is the Governor's proposal to increase the employee portion of contributions to STRS from 10% to 12%, while simultaneously decreasing the employer portion of contributions from 14% to 12%. The Ohio House removed that piece of the Governor's budget proposal in the version it passed (HB 153), but it now appears that the Senate may put that proposal back in its version of the budget bill.

A 2% increase in the employee portion of contributions is effectively a 2% cut in pay, and would be especially challenging for those state employees with the lowest wages. Both STRS and OPERS have stated that this proposal actually harms the solvency of those pension funds, partially because employees who leave before they are vested would be withdrawing a greater portion of the fund balances. Also, only employer contributions may be used to fund retiree health care benefits, so this proposal would increase costs to retirees and put their benefits at greater risk.

STRS has already proposed changes to the pension plans that would improve the long-term solvency of the pension, but the Governor's proposal that the Senate is now considering putting back into the budget bill does nothing to address this, and actually does harm to the solvency of the pension plans. We encourage you to contact the Senator from your district, and encourage him/her to oppose shifting employer costs onto employees. A written letter to your Senator is most effective. You may also call OEA's Educator Connect Line at (888) 907-7309 to get connected to your Senator's office.

YES, YOU CAN HAVE DESSERT: TURNIPS!

For the first time in the history of Columbus State Community College, employees are being told that they will not be receiving raises this year. In spite of the fact that enrollment has grown by 36% in the past 3 years - and in spite of the fact that the college had profits of approximately $11 million in FY 2009, $22 million in FY 2010, and $7 million in FY 2011 - and in spite of the fact that the college has over $88 million in allocated funds and another $36 million in unallocated funds - Dr. Harrison announced in an email May 12 that there would be no proposal to the Board of Trustees for a pay raise for any employee.

Staff , who have increased productivity to address substantial increases in enrollment and the increased workload that accompanies it, are currently completing their evaluations under the PERFORMS management system. Regardless of their performance, they are hearing, "Great job! Now get back to work!”—rather like being told, "You get dessert, and it’s turnips!"

It’s true that the college will lose several million dollars in one-time federal dollars - funding which we all knew was one-time money and which was budgeted for accordingly. But the proposed state budget also includes an additional $4.7 million this coming year, and another $1.6 million on top of that for FY 2013, as the state's share of instruction. There are also reasonable concerns about the leveling of enrollment. Still, regardless of the uncertainty of future finances, it’s beyond belief that the college can’t make a one-year commitment to acknowledging the impressive work of all employees in a stressful period that has included work related to the switch to semesters, space and scheduling, preventive and ongoing maintenance of facilities, and multiple other issues. To not reward this, even in some token way, is to undermine and erode morale campus wide. A 1% pay increase would cost the college less than $2 million—a pittance from cash reserves of over $124 million.

It would seem that the current situation of the college is the definition of a “rainy day.” It would also seem that the situation is what rainy day funds are for: to maintain operations and productivity in the face of financial stresses.

CSEA TO COVER MEMBERS’ ASSESSMENT TO OPPOSE SB5

The OEA Spring Representative Assembly, comprised of delegates from locals around the state, voted to assess all OEA members a $54 fee to raise funds to support the referendum to repeal SB5. The bill would outlaw collective bargaining for college faculty, eliminate binding arbitration for police and firefighters, and limit the ability of all Ohio public employees to meaningfully negotiate their salaries and health care.

In a member meeting this past Monday, CSEA members approved an Executive Committee proposal to have the Association waive local dues ($54/year) to offset the one-time assessment from OEA. CSEA members recognize that rainy days happen, and when they do, an organization needs to step up to take care of its own.

SPRING FLING PROVIDES SUPPORT FOR SB5 REPEAL EFFORT

CSEA's table at Wednesday's Spring Fling was able to register voters and gather many signatures on petitions to put the referendum to repeal SB5 on the November ballot. Thanks to Judy Anderson, Beth Barnett, Gil Feiertag, Greg Goodhart, Rebecca Safa, and Darrell Minor for representing the Association at the event.

CSEA members have petitions available to be signed during unassigned classroom and office hours. We urge you to sign a petition to get this important referendum to the voters. Contact Steve Abbott, Judy Anderson, Beth Barnett, Jamie DeMonte, Ingrid Emch, Greg Goodhart, Nancy Kephart, Eric Neubauer, Darrell Minor, or Dona Reasor.

GOVERNANCE COUNCILS BORDER ON IRRELEVANCE

Once again this year, the number of open seats on the Governance Councils and the lack of candidates to fill the positions continue to provide evidence of how little faith employees have in the current governance model. Again this year, there was really no need to hold an election for faculty positions, since everyone who signed up as a candidate is assured victory.

The numbers tell the story: Among full-time faculty, there are 20 open seats on the two councils and only 12 faculty running for those seats. Among adjunct faculty, there are 8 open seats on the two councils and only 1 adjunct running for those seats. Those faculty who ran for positions are almost exclusively junior faculty, who undoubtedly can use Service to the College for purposes of attaining tenure and future promotions (and in at least some cases, who were "encouraged" by their chairperson and/or dean to participate). Not a single Full Professor ran for election.

The Governance Councils continue to operate under rules that permit only the administration to dictate what issues can be raised by employees and that make teaching a class the ONLY unacceptable reason stated for missing a meeting. What's wrong with this picture of “shared governance”?

The CSEA Negotiating Team has presented a proposal regarding faculty governance to the College, and we are hopeful that the administration will be receptive to addressing the real concerns of faculty on this matter.

BACK TO HARDBALL AT THE BARGAINING TABLE?

Although the CSEA Bargaining Team has made progress in many areas during the past 6 weeks of negotiations, the issues of workload, salary, and health insurance remain unresolved. So the Team has been both surprised and disappointed recently at what appears to be a reversion by the administration to the negotiating tactics of CSEA's often-bitter negotiations in 2002 and 2005.

Last Thursday, on the day before both sides were to submit their proposals related to salary and benefits, Dr. Harrison released a statement that he did not intend to propose any raises for employees at today's Board meeting. This effectively sent a message that the college did not intend to negotiate salaries with faculty—bad timing at best and bad faith bargaining at worst. Then, on Monday, the college publicly announced its proposal of a “Voluntary Cash Separation Incentive” available to faculty as well as other employees. Since this issue was a subject of bargaining, it appears to be a violation of the Ground Rules agreed to by both the college and CSEA as well as an attempt to negotiate via the news media.

Negotiations in 2008 were respectful and civil, and they produced a contract that created a set of effective processes for resolving problems and a notable improvement in morale. It appears that the recent demonizing of public employees has given the administration a willingness to employ heavy-handed confrontation as a negotiating tool.


The Word is produced by the Communications Committee of the Columbus State Education Association. We welcome your comments, news, and insights.

Darrell Minor, President/ x5310
Kevin James, Vice-President / x5008
Judy Anderson, Secretary / x5453
Phil MacLean, Treasurer / x5308
Ingrid Emch, Parliamentarian-elect / x5824

Gil Feiertag, Senior Association Representative, Career & Technical / x5861
Health, Dental and Veterinary Technology
Allied Health

Steve Abbott, Senior Association Representative, Arts & Sciences / x5096
Business

T.J. Duda / x5309
Construction Science
Automotive
Engineering Technology

Gilberto Serrano / x3863
Mathematics

Beth Barnett / x2593
Hospitality, Massage Therapy and Sports & Exercise Studies

Bill Cook / x5364
Communications

Mort Javadi / x5635
Physical Sciences

Jackie Miller / x2601
Nursing & Related Services

Mark Mitchell / x3612
Justice & Safety

Keith Sanders/ x5288
Humanities

Mike Schumacher / 5482
Social Sciences
Psychology

Cindy Evans / x2435
Human Services

Dr. Antoinette Perkins / x5754
Marketing & Graphic Communication
Computer Information Technology

Eric Neubauer / x5698
English

Amy Brubaker / x5068
Developmental Education
Modern Languages

Dr. Sue Longenbaker / x2430
Biological Sciences


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