What's Really Happening - 2005/05/23

 

 

What's Really Happening

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of May 23, 2005

URGENT INFORMATION RE: OUR CONTRACT & FACULTY'S HEALTH CARE OPTIONS

In bypassing CSEA as faculty's representative in matters of wages (including benefits), hours and working conditions, the administration has generated considerable concern and confusion. The recent series of forums regarding possible changes in health care coverage took place outside of contract negotiations, where such information is required to be discussed. It is therefore important that all faculty understand the following:

  • Your union representatives are engaged in negotiating your health care coverage. In other words, nothing is final regarding what changes might occur in either coverage or cost of health insurance.
  • The options presented in a series of recent forums are not necessarily the only options. We are still negotiating.
  • Your options for coverage may change when we have reached agreement on health care coverage as part of our contract talks.
  • Although our current Collective Bargaining Agreement is in only effect through June 30, as long as faculty are willing to continue working under that Agreement after June 30, , the College is legally bound to continue our health care coverage at current levels until CSEA members ratify a new contract.

Non-bargaining unit employees can not negotiate their wages and other forms of compensation; however, as organized faculty members, we can-and we are continuing to do so. The recent proposed changes in insurance, and the options outlined in recent forums presented by Human Resources, do not dictate what faculty will accept in the way of health care coverage. In addition, there are serious potential pitfalls in some of the College's health care offerings. For example, the maximum deductible for the higher-risk options (ALT 1 and HSA) could range for family coverage from $8,000 to $16,000 for out-of-network service, compared the existing plan's maximum cost of $1,000.

The final details of faculty health care coverage will not be clear for a while, and that may make you anxious. That's understandable, but it's not necessary. So, what should you be doing? It's clear we all need to maintain medical coverage until CSEA has ratified a new contract. The CSEA Executive Committee advises the following:

(1) Since the College does have the right to change insurance carriers, faculty should sign up for Alternate Plan #2, which is the closest to our current Medical Mutual coverage of the United Health Care options that the administration has outlined. This will ensure coverage as you have had it for the past year.

(2) Keep your old Medical Mutual Schedule of Benefits. During the interim period before our new contract is ratified, you may need it to make sure that you are not being subjected to higher co-pays or reduced coverage for any medical bills.

(3) Keep in mind that any changes in payroll deductions for insurance coverage will not go into effect until the first pay of Autumn Quarter (October 15) unless you are currently having your 3-quarter pay (and your insurance costs) spread over 12 months.

We are confident that we can reach agreement on a new contract. In the meantime, we urge you to sign up for Alternate Plan #2 to continue your coverage at its current level until we all ratify a new agreement.

NEGOTIATIONS UPDATE

During negotiations Thursday and Friday (May 19-20), your CSEA representatives and administration representatives reached tentative agreement on several more issues. This progress will help to limit the number of issues that need to be mediated and, should mediation prove unsuccessful, taken to a fact finder. Negotiators also exchanged and briefly reviewed economic proposals. Our proposals included a salary schedule, improved overload pay, and improved levels and extent of insurance coverage.

A salary schedule remains among the membership's most pressing issues. An effective salary schedule allows faculty to advance above the bottom of pay levels for their respective ranks and, more importantly, assures that faculty members-most notably junior faculty-will dramatically improve their retirement income over the span of a teaching career at CSCC.

Our health care article proposed a tiered level of cost for health care. CSEA proposed differing levels of shared health care cost based on income. The proposal recognizes that, with inflation just under 3% and the College proposing dramatic increases in employees' share of insurance costs while offering a miserly 2.5% salary increase, many employees will actually be WORSE off by the end of 2005 under the administration's plans.

One difficulty in negotiating our first contract has re-appeared in current bargaining: lack of serious response from administration negotiators to complex proposals. This has been evident most obviously in the administration's response to CSEA's proposal on workload.

Your bargaining team first took the old language defining workload, which appears in the current contract as Appendix A, and converted it into contract format. Then, in response to concerns of the membership, CSEA negotiators spent untold hours compiling faculty's survey responses and developing contract proposals for negotiations. They also proposed some changes in current language as well as new subsections covering scheduling of classes, protections against being required to teach both late-evening classes and early-morning classes, variations in use of office hours, and use of Mission & Learning Support hours.

Despite CSEA reps' extensive explanation of the proposal and how adopting at least some of it might improve productivity by offering more flexibility to faculty without costing the College money, administration negotiators eventually offered a counter proposal of "current language." In other words, they refused to do their homework and were unwilling to discuss specific parts of the proposal and seriously negotiate different aspects of it. We can understand that the administration would not agree with all of our proposed changes, but rejecting the proposal in its entirety suggests an unwillingness to seriously discuss faculty's suggestions for improvement.

NEGOTIATIONS UPDATE #2: PROMOTION AND TENURE

All faculty have an interest in the outcome of a proposal that would create historic changes in promotion and tenure processes. We hope that the administration will agree to refinements in this important process as a result of negotiations. In the meantime, here's some background and some insight into what's happening in bargaining.

The Excellence in Teaching Committee, chaired by Arts & Sciences Division Dean Dr. David Hockenbery, developed its recommendations (after 4+ years of work) on changes to 3 different Policies/Procedures and distributed its proposal to faculty. Some of these recommendations included:

1. moving tenure earlier one year, and tying first promotion to it;

2. doing away with "points" for promotion and using them solely for initial placement, although the committee did not establish a method to do this (see below);

3. revision of promotion categories;

4. moving deadlines forward, allowing various committees more time for review;

5. allowing for absentee balloting for selection of the College Promotion and Tenure Committee.

CSEA and the College agreed to hold forums to receive feedback on these recommendations; three forums were held, and meaningful feedback was solicited and received. As a result, at the bargaining table CSEA presented a proposal to the college which included changes that were made based on that feedback. The ONLY changes that came as a result of the forums included:

1. two "grandfather" clauses allowing current faculty to continue to use the old system/categories until their next promotion/tenure;

2. clarifying that material more than four years old can be used in portfolios, provided it was not used for a category in a prior portfolio, but that more recent activities may carry more weight with committees;

3. clarifying how the current guarantee of at least a 5% raise upon promotion would work under a new system; and

4. adopting the Career and Technical Division's model for how the Division Committees would work, rather than the Arts & Sciences Division model that was being recommended by the committee.

An additional change was made that established HOW points would be used to determine initial placement was included in the proposal (since the committee did not establish a process for this), along with the possibility that faculty could be initially placed at higher than the Instructor rank, but only with the approval of the President of the College and the Association.

At the College Bargaining Team's request, CSEA also made changes in wording to clarify how absentee balloting would work (largely to accommodate faculty who teach clinicals off campus), and what constitutes a "year of service." These were the ONLY changes made to the final recommendations of the committee.

The result was a 15-page proposal that merged into a single contract article the recommendations on the 3 Policies/Procedures related to promotion and tenure.

Near the end of negotiations Friday, the College's representatives indicated they wanted to go to mediation earlier than what was agreed to (June 3). CSEA negotiators pointed out that we haven't even discussed this article yet, hadn't discussed ANY of the financial proposals (exchanged only Thursday afternoon), and still had other open articles requiring additional discussion as well. College negotiators responded that the Promotion and Tenure article had "too many changes" and that it did not reflect what was recommended by Dr. Hockenbery's committee. CSEA pointed out that the changes are a direct result of the meaningful feedback received from several faculty forums that the College itself had co-sponsored in order to address faculty concerns.

CO-OPERATION VS. CONFRONTATION

It appears that the administration, for all its talk about a "new and more cooperative relationship," still sees CSEA as an enemy rather than a partner within the College. Administrators, who for years have dictated processes rather than developed them cooperatively, are not accustomed to having to actually make changes to their plans as a result of the "forums" they sponsor to obtain feedback on new proposals. When the outcomes of the forums don't match the administration's plans, they react by claiming that there are "too many changes." Sadly, especially given the challenges that the College faces, this remains true in too many administration dealings with ALL employees.

The difference now is that faculty (as well as unionized Physical Plant and Public Safety employees) can work out differences through mutually respectful bargaining. CSEA is now an important part of the College's decision-making process. CSEA's involvement will be valuable-essential-as the College develops new initiatives, changes existing practices, and plans smooth transitions as part of historic moves such as the Delaware campus. Faculty have ideas, commitment, and energy to dedicate to College initiatives and goals, but CSEA will make a good ally only if the College does not continue to treat it as an adversary.

TUESDAY RALLY TO SUPPORT FUNDING FOR EDUCATION

OEA will hold a rally Tuesday/TOMORROW , 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 on the southwest lawn (State & High Streets) of the Statehouse from 5-6 PM.

We appreciate your response so far, and we would like to see at least a dozen more faculty willing to add your presence to that of other teachers from around the state. CSEA is organizing car pools to take you from campus to the rally and back. Please email Steve Abbott or call him at x5096 if you are able to give just 90 minutes-including travel time-to supporting education throughout Ohio.

DID YOU KNOW.?

As an educator, you can get free admission to COSI. Just show your OEA/CSEA membership card or faculty ID.

Also, the Wexner Center for the Arts at OSU is now offering an educators' discount on its annual memberships. Educators pay only $40 (which covers 2 adults in a household) instead of the normal $55 annual membership, which entitles members to advance purchase advantages and discounts on Wexner Center music, dance, and theater presentations, invitations to special arts events, and a range of other benefits. You can contact the Wexner Center at 292-1777.


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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