What's Really Happening - 2002/07/07

 

 

What's Really Happening

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of July 7, 2002

We continue to meet 2 days a week for contract talks. Although we have made progress in several important areas, we must emphasize that the critical issues of workload, arbitration, and salary schedule have not yet been addressed by the College.

MIXED SIGNALS

At the bargaining table, the College says it want to move ahead and reach settlement; then it privately tells its managers that CSEA is dragging its feet. We have offered to meet more frequently, but the College says it can't devote that much time to negotiations. College representatives say they want a cordial working relationship with us, but privately they try to count the number of union members and tell managers they hope to break the union.

Chairs in several departments appear to have become pit bulls for the administration. Chairs in both divisions are trying to require faculty to be on campus at least one hour a day, regardless of whether they have classes on campus or not. Apparently the Provost has approved this action, which we will challenge as an unfair labor practice if it is enforced, since no previous requirement has been part of the allocation of faculty time. If your department chair attempts to enforce this new requirement, please notify one of us immediately.

Autumn Quarter is expected to bring a substantial increase in enrollment (OSU's freshman tuition will increase by 30%), and it's clear that even the opening of Academic C will not alleviate the space issues on campus. Faculty will be asked to accommodate, adjust, and assist to make everything run smoothly. It will be easier for us to do this if the College has shown a serious commitment to addressing our primary concerns in negotiations and working to reach an agreement this summer.

TENTATIVE AGREEMENTS

We are close to tentative agreements on several more issues, including personal leave, rehiring of retired faculty, and in-term bargaining (to allow us to negotiate agreed-upon issues during the contract term). We have yet to conclude agreements on the following major issues:

SALARY

We have proposed a salary schedule that will provide for regular increases within each academic rank over the term of the contract. The College has countered with its traditional salary scale, with a proposed 3% increase retroactive to January 1 and an additional 2% increases retroactive to July 1. You have all made clear the importance of a salary schedule, so we do not consider this a serious offer, particularly in light of the staff/administrator reclassifications and hourly adjustments that produced raises that will total over 10%.

For the past several years, the College has budgeted assuming that enrollment would not increase, even in light of continuing double-digit annual increases in student population. Further, state budget cuts have been offset by tuition adjustments. By leaving budgeted faculty positions unfilled (sometimes for as long as 2 years), the College has saved additional money, and the President recently told the Board of Trustees that the College expects revenues to increase more than 6% in the coming year. Our proposals seek only a small portion of CSCC's substantial cash reserves (over $50 million) to remedy years of below-average faculty pay despite CSCC being the largest, fastest-growing, and most financially sound community college in the state.

You may have heard whispers about the College's position on salaries. The College has informed its managers of its "bottom line" on salaries but has not formally presented us with this information. It appears the College wants to filter information to faculty through back-door channels to increase uncertainty and anxiety (and this has already happened in several departments, particularly in the health professions). If you have specific questions, please contact us directly.

In the past, buy-outs have generally occurred only when senior administration officials are eager to retire or move to other lucrative employment. We have proposed regularly scheduled buy-outs that will allow senior faculty to retire early and for the college to replace these employees with new, less expensive junior faculty. Although there would be significant initial costs to the College, our estimates (which have not been challenged by the College) show that the College would begin to save considerable money after about four years. By capping the number of eligible faculty, our proposal would allow both faculty and the College do engage in more effective long-term planning as well as produce a net savings to Columbus State within a relatively short period.

WORKLOAD

A primary focus of our workload proposal has been the inadequate reassigned time for program coordinators and lead instructors. Most notably, faculty in career and technical programs routinely work 2 and 3 times their number of reassigned hours to complete what are, in fact, managerial duties. The College's reorganization in the mid-90's (over the objection of many faculty) resulted in reducing the number of department chairs, which in turn led to more reliance on coordinators and lead instructors. Most faculty are not unwilling to perform these duties; in fact, we want the intimate contact that allows us to nurture and improve our programs. But we MUST have more administrative support from the College and reassigned time that more accurately reflects the amount of weekly hours that go into performing the multiple functions and responsibilities these positions demand both on and off campus.

DISCIPLINARY PROCESSES

We realize that the College has certain rights in hiring, corrective/disciplinary action, and firing. We insist, however, that the College follow defined procedures to protect faculty from unfair managerial action or arbitrary termination. In the past (and even in several recent cases), the College has routinely ignored its own objective that discipline be "progressive and corrective." Instead, faculty have been terminated without benefit of existing procedures or threatened with possible discharge without any prior notice of misconduct. We believe that any disciplinary process must progress through a series of steps aimed at improving performance or behavior. And this issue leads to another:

POLICIES & PROCEDURES

One major concern is that the College wants the right to change procedures at will without negotiating these changes with the Association. We want only to be able to negotiate any changes to current procedures that affect us. To this end, we want the current policies and procedures included as part of our agreement, but the College wants the right to alter policies and procedures at will. We want to have the processes we'll work under written into the contract so they are legally enforceable. We are unwilling to endorse an agreement that allows the College to arbitrarily change rules that govern our work.

WHAT'S AHEAD

Make no mistake. We are committed to improving both our incomes and protections within well-defined procedures. For years the College ignored reasonable requests for change and improvements, counting on our commitment to our jobs, our professions, and our students to keep us in line. Administrators ignored our suggestions for change, even after a close vote in 2000 in which faculty decided against a union at that time, even after faculty leaders suggested ways to improve conditions so a union would be unnecessary. Instead, the College exploited our compassion and professionalism, and it now assumes-as its representatives tell each other-that we are too weak, too busy, or too self-centered to work together to improve the situations of all faculty.

The College has underestimated us in the past. To date, CSEA has kept a low profile, being careful to avoid actions that might push our efforts into the public eye and trying not to overwhelm you with information. Expect more frequent information and more public activity.


What's Really Happening is produced by the Communications Committee of the Columbus State Education Association. We welcome your comments, news, and insights.

Steve Abbott, President / x5096
Karl Rieppel, Vice President / x2500
Amy Brubaker, Secretary and Association Representative / x5068
Greg Goodhart, Treasurer / x5431
Darrell Minor, Parliamentarian / x5310
Bill Mundy, Association Representative / x5176
Dr. Jane McDowell, Association Representative / x2656 
Dave Busch, Association Representative / x5079
Dr. Charlie Gallucci, Association Representative / x5499
Leslie Smith, Association Representative / x5302
Dr. Wendy McCullen-Vermillion, Association Representative / x2693
Lisa Schneider, Association Representative / x5124


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