What's Really Happening - 2005/05/18

 

 

What's Really Happening

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of May 18, 2005

NEGOTIATIONS UPDATE-MOVING TOWARD MEDIATION

Your Negotiating Team and representatives of the administration tentatively agreed to several contract articles in talks last week and agreed to meet with a mediator on June 3, 6, and 7 to attempt to reconcile issues that remain unresolved. If these efforts at mediation can not resolve the issues, we will have to schedule a fact-finding hearing, in which an outside professional will consider evidence presented by both parties and, as with the initial contract, render recommendations on how to settle the outstanding issues. These recommendations must be accepted by both the Board and CSEA members. As of last Friday, major issues including definition of the academic year, workload, seniority, job protections in case of a reduction in force, and reassigned time for union officers remain on the table.

Why are these issues important?

The College wants to change the status of the two days before the beginning of Autumn Quarter. Traditionally, faculty have used these days as unstructured time to prepare for the opening of the most hectic quarter of the year; the College wants to require faculty to be on campus on these days and has suggested that the days could be better used for various types of meetings. Article 3 of our contract states that faculty "are to perform duties on these days as they have prior to [the current contract]." CSEA seeks to maintain faculty's professional flexibility to use these days as they see fit to prepare for the opening of the school year.

In terms of workload, CSEA's proposal has re-structured the "Full-Time Faculty Workload Model" developed prior to the representation vote in 2001. This document was incorporated into the initial Agreement as Appendix A. In addition to framing the document into contract form, your representatives have proposed guidelines for creating flexibility in use of office hours, options for scheduling of classes, and greater protections for faculty's use of Mission and Learning Support time. With the failure of the Board to improve the ratio of full-time to part-time faculty, and trying to do even more with even less, the administration-through pressure on department chairs-continues to expand the scope of faculty duties, assuring faculty that this additional work can be done as "part of your Mission and Learning Support time." For most of us, M&L Support involves preparation for class, development of new learning strategies and modules, grading, advising, committee meetings, governance work, and other non-classroom responsibilities. The administration is engaging in a form of "workload creep," regularly creating new expectations for the use of the "official" 14 hours per week that make up M&L Support. It is CSEA's position that, as professionals, faculty regularly exceed these 14 hours and that they should not be expected to constantly stretch this non-classroom/non-office time to unlimited lengths.

We believe that senior faculty who have worked their way up through the ranks have earned some preferences in scheduling and greater protections based on their longevity at CSCC. Although CSEA agrees in principle with the Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP) approved by the Board, we have some concerns that the College may not replace all faculty who take the buy-out option. To protect all faculty, we have proposed that the administration agree to no reduction in force during the term of the next contract.

Your union leaders believe that there should be reassigned time available to union officers to conduct union business and to work with administrators on issues that might lead to larger problems. For the past four years, your leaders have worked on their own time-both on and off campus-to help union members and perform the multiple duties necessary to run a bargaining unit of more than 250 professionals. When Faculty Senate existed, the president and secretary of Senate received reassigned time to perform their duties. The administration believes that reassigned time for union officers should come from all faculty giving up some personal time for this purpose. CSEA believes that, given the important legal responsibilities that officers have for running the union, their work is even more important than the work formerly done by Senate officers. We believe that the College should provide some reassigned time to ensure CSEA's smooth operation in its work with Human Resources, governance issues, department chairs, and week-to-week workplace issues.

Discussion of all of these issues continues this week.

FINANCIAL PROPOSALS

Your CSEA team and administration representatives will exchange financial proposals Thursday, May 19. These will include both salary and benefits issues. It appears that the Board intends to grant 2.5% raises to all non-unionized employees with a one-time $500 payment on top of that. Many employees-and not just faculty-have expressed concern that, with inflation running over 3%, a 2.5% salary increase and additional costs for health care will leave many employees with LESS money in their checks after these "raises." In other words, while approving an extra $750 a month for the President's housing allowance (that is, an additional raise of 4.3% on top of her 4% salary increase, plus free insurance, plus full payment of her retirement contribution), the Board expects employees to tighten their belts and suffer in silence. This displays a management style that Marie Antoinette might appreciate, whether you believe she actually said, "Let them eat cake" or not. Rewarding the CEO while stiffing the rest of the workforce suggests cluelessness rather than leadership. To paraphrase the question that accompanied the limbo contest at the Employee Celebration last Saturday, how low can morale go?

HEALTH CARE OPEN FORUMS

There seemed to be a LOT of confusion by both faculty and staff about the three different options that were presented at several of the administration's "Health Care Forums." The way in which options were presented by Tim Wagner, VP for Human Resources, contributed in part to this. Specifically, he kept referring to the new (catostrophic) plan the "Core Plan - Option 1" and then calling the current plan "Option 3." This made some people think that our current plan was "Option 1" but with a decrease in coverage. The form of the presentation was clearly trying to steer people toward the Health Savings Accounts (Option 2 in his presentation). Asked to clarify which option is the one currently being used by most employees, he said Option 3.

Health benefits are always an important issue, and with a change in carrier and the administration working to shift costs back onto employees, health care is even more important. We all need good information in order to make informed choices, as well as to assess whether each option is being fairly presented by administration representatives. CSEA is considering hosting forums in the next 10 days to help faculty better understand what the administration's proposed changes really mean. Stay tuned.

STATEHOUSE RALLY TO SUPPORT EDUCATION FUNDING

OEA will hold a rally next Tuesday, May 24, to urge members of the General Assembly to provide adequate funding for all of Ohio's school children. The rally will take place at the Statehouse from 5-6 PM.

CSEA is asking each of you to join other teachers from around the state at this important gathering to emphasize the importance of adequate funding for Ohio's schools. CSEA is organizing carpools to take you from campus to the rally and back.

We all know that it's important to speak out for education funding. It's also important to write letters to support education funding. But Woody Allen has noted that "90% of success is just showing up." Showing up-making your wishes known by simply being present-can make a big difference next Tuesday. Join us at the Statehouse. Please email Steve Abbott if you are able to give just 90 minutes-including travel time-to supporting education throughout Ohio.


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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