What's Really Happening - 2003/01/27

 

 

What's Really Happening

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of January 27, 2003

NEARLY 100 FACULTY ATTEND TRUSTEES MEETING

On the coldest evening of the new year, nearly 100 faculty (including a handful of non-CSEA members) stood in sub-zero wind chill outside Franklin Hall, candles flickering on their faces. They had just marched in a quiet procession from Nestor Hall to attend the January 23 Board of Trustees meeting. CSEA President Steve Abbott announced the words of support from faculty whose classroom or family commitments kept them from attending, and then spoke briefly, noting that the gathering was "not a protest, not a demonstration, but an act of witness" to faculty's dedication to Columbus State's welfare.

The group crowded into the Board Room, overflowing into the foyer and hallway outside and mixing with several students and representatives of the Physical Plant and Public Safety unions. The Board completed most of its agenda and then went into executive session to discuss a fact finder's recommendations to settle negotiations between the Board and Public Safety officers. Reconvening after about 45 minutes, the Board accepted the recommendations (which had been rejected the previous day by police officers). Although some members had to leave during the wait, most were still present for the public participation portion of the agenda.

Prof. Marilyn Howard then addressed the Board. She spoke of receiving an Associate's degree in Law Enforcement when the college was still Columbus Technical Institute, and of continuing her education before returning to Columbus State as a faculty member in Social and Behavioral Sciences. She noted the frustration of faculty with a salary system that keeps them constantly at the bottom of their pay ranges, and of the erosion of commitment to the "team" spirit of the college that the system causes.

An older student followed, explaining multiple roles-coach, counselor, mentor-that faculty have performed for her outside the classroom during completion of one degree and continued work on another. Then Prof. Denise Riley, chair of the Instructional Support Council, addressed the Board on the lack of process and direction of the "shared governance" structure. She was followed by Prof. Karen Muir, chair of the Instructional Council, who agreed with Riley's assessment.

Prof. Judy Roobian-Mohr voiced concerns about the administration's management practices. The economics teacher conduct a mini-lesson (complete with handouts) to point out how many college practices ignore the principles of good institutional and personal management. Then Prof.

David Litt, lead instructor in Sports and Fitness Management, expressed concern about the declining ratio of full-time faculty to part-time faculty and how the Board's failure to address the issue seriously is affecting the quality of education students receive. The 2000 NCA accreditation report recommended that the College improve this ratio, but in the face of enrollment increases averaging around 10% a year, full-time faculty is expanding at about 3% a year while the number of adjunct faculty and the managerial duties of full-time faculty both continue to increase.

Prof. James Stewart picked up on a statement by Marilyn Howard about the technical tail of the college wagging the educational dog. He noted how frequently the administration makes technical decisions that affect classroom instruction without ever involving faculty in processes. His words were echoed by Prof. Karl Reippel, lead instructor in Computer Science, who pointed out how refusal to employ faculty's professional expertise is a waste of human resources that undermines effective education and institutional effectiveness. Prof. Bill Warner of Automotive Maintenance spoke plainly and directly, asking the Board to find a way to lower the level of anxiety on campus.

CSEA President Steve Abbott then spoke briefly, restating some of what he had said to CSEA members earlier outdoors. He expressed the widespread concern that the Board may not be aware of what's happening or may be getting inaccurate information, whether about union strength or salary costs. He said that the Columbus State and its reputation are in danger if the Board is making decisions without having reliable data. He invited the Board to learn more about what faculty do and urged them to consider carefully their actions during this tense period at Columbus State.

Asked to address the crowd, outgoing Board President Pete Grimes said that the Board had everyone's best interests in mind. It appeared that many of those present were not reassured.

January 23 was a pivotal event in Columbus State history. With members of both staff unions present, faculty from across the College gave the Board an unfiltered view inside the College and offered them the opportunity to address a situation that could grow into a crisis.

WHY A SALARY SCHEDULE IS IMPORTANT

Pretty simple: it was a primary reason faculty voted for union representation. Since the College raises the bottom of each pay range by the same percentage that it raises annual salary, faculty remain forever at the bottom of their pay ranges. Only faculty placed in rank in before 1990 will ever have the opportunity to reach the top of their pay ranges. Once these faculty retire, no faculty member will ever reach the top of a pay range under the current system.

Yes, there were other goals: improvement in benefits, an actual faculty role in governance, and job security through a legally binding contract that provided a grievance procedure and disciplinary protections and required both the College and faculty to abide by the Policies and Procedures. And we ended up taking nearly a dozen unresolved issues to the independent fact finder, who issued recommendations on those issues. Following faculty's presence at the Board meeting, HR Director Tim Wagner was quoted in the OSU Lantern saying that faculty "need to realize that they can't get everything on the first round of negotiations." Let's see how much "everything" we would get at this point.

The fact finder's report recommended no improvement in benefits and a minimal union role in governance (making appointments to college-level committees). We also stand to get a grievance procedure. And, yes, a contract would require the College to follow its written policies and procedures as well as its historic practices. Somehow, though, it seems unfair to consider getting the College to agree to follow its own written procedures as "getting everything." So to date you have improvements in none of the other issues taken to fact finding. You're not getting 2 of the major goals you sought. But the College IS now willing to agree to actually follow its own rules (a major gain, but one that shouldn't have required a legal contract).

What's left? A salary schedule.

Finally, a salary schedule will benefit newer faculty-those with their teaching careers just beginning-the most. Since a salary schedule will allow faculty to move up within their pay ranges, the resulting higher salary at retirement will produce significant improvements in retirement income. It's never too early to plan.

The College feels it has given up a lot by agreeing to be legally required to following its own policies and procedures. It now says, "Well, you can't expect everything." What DO you expect?

NEGOTIATIONS TO CONTINUE

The Board's negotiating team contacted CSEA at the end of the day Wednesday January 22 to meet with CSEA negotiators Friday afternoon. The short notice and conflicting faculty classroom schedules prevented a meeting then, but we expect one this week. Although CSEA representatives agreed 2 weeks ago that a mediator might be needed if upcoming negotiations fail to resolve outstanding issues, there has been no specific agreement to seek mediation at this time.

GOVERNANCE

Last Tuesday, the Instructional Support Council passed a motion that the results of all roll-call votes be recorded in the minutes by constituency group. Faculty will now be able to see how their faculty representatives voted, staff will be able to see how their staff representatives voted, and administrators will be able to see how the administrators on the Council voted. Unfortunately, this most-democratic of motions passed only over the objections of the administrators present. Although faculty voted unanimously to support this motion, the five administrators present voted unanimously against it. A similar motion at Thursday's Instructional Council meeting passed unanimously, with only the (non-voting ex-officio) Dean of the Career and Technical Division expressing his view that the motion should be defeated.

SPECIAL NEW UPDATE SECTION: THE FACT CHECKER

Taking a phrase from President Ronald Reagan ("There you go again!"), we'll help you keep the facts straight with this new section.

HR Director Tim Wagner, heard on WOSU radio, claimed CSCC instructors start at "a little less than $38,000" and those with over 20 years of service could earn $74,000. THERE YOU GO AGAIN. Actually, instructors are currently hired in at $35,872, and the top of the professor range is $70,547. There are only 10 professors who earn salaries at the top of the range. These individuals were hired before 1975 and were placed in rank when the current ranking system was put in place before 1990. Since then, faculty who are promoted to Professor rank will stay at the bottom of the professor range with salaries in the $55,000 to $62,000 range; they will never be able to reach the top of the range, regardless of the number of years a faculty member is employed at CSCC. You decide if an error of $2,000 in salary and the assertion that faculty could earn $74,000 is a mistake or an attempt to mislead.

Administrators told their managers last week that CSEA is "stalling" because it didn't bring the Board new proposals following rejection of the fact finder's report. THERE YOU GO AGAIN. Faculty accepted the fact finder's report, and the Board's rejection of the report put its team in the position of suggesting alternatives to the numerous issues that comprised the fact finding hearing. The Board's negotiators waited 3 weeks to present 2 proposals, one on salary and one on personal leave. Have things become more complex since the fact finder's report was rejected? Yes. Is CSEA stalling? Hardly.


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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