What's Really Happening - 2005/06/29



What's Really Happening

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of June 29, 2005


CSEA has filed a complaint with the State Employment Relations Board (SERB) alleging that the College committed an unfair labor practice by attempting to dictate new terms for health care coverage without negotiating with the union.

The College began notifying all employees in April that, based on discussions held by the College Health Care Committee, the College would change insurance carriers and have new terms for health insurance. The College Health Care Committee, whose activities are covered under Article 11 of the Agreement, includes representatives from CSEA, the 2 staff unions (Physical Plant and Public Safety), non-unionized staff and the administration. It conducts research and discussions but does not negotiate specific insurance plans or the costs of those plans.

Since health care and similar benefits are mandatory subjects of bargaining, CSEA believes that the College attempted to unduly influence faculty while CSEA representatives were in the process of negotiating health care coverage. The College's attempt to dictate health care options outside of negotiations is known as "direct dealing," which is forbidden under collective bargaining law.

CSEA does not accept the Board's position that employees should pay all of the increased costs of health care while the College keeps its own expenses the same as last year's. Although it is reasonable for employees to pay part of these increased costs, the administration's attempt to shift costs to employees (and increase their health care contributions by over 75%) is unacceptable.

We must note that, with the administration offering a mere 2.5% pay increase to staff and other non-union employees and inflation running close to 3%, many employees-primarily the lowest-paid staff-will finish out 2005 making LESS money than they made in January. And some may have to reduce or go without insurance coverage. In a year when the President received a raise of more than 8% and receives an additional income boost by having all of her retirement contributions picked up by the College, this action by the Board makes a statement that speaks for itself.


In bargaining sessions during the last week and finals week of Spring Quarter, negotiators from CSEA and the College reached tentative agreement on several more contract articles with the help of a mediator.

Sections of the current contract covering reductions in force (lay-offs), the College Health Care Committee, union recognition, in-term bargaining, and leave donation were accepted in either their present form or with minor changes. CSEA representatives also tentatively agreed to the Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP) as well as language concerning electronic privacy and another regarding the work of committees hiring new faculty. A separate tentative agreement covers guidelines for hiring faculty members as department chairs.

Important issues remain. We believe that, with compromise on each side, we can reach agreement on the work of program coordinators and lead instructors, grade grievances, and an improved promotion and tenure process. However, the College continues to resist CSEA's proposal regarding placing new faculty above the bottom of the pay scale and exploring options for retroactively placing current Instructors higher into the pay scale based on the number of points they had on the date of hire. In addition, Article 7 (Association Business) is still unresolved. Since the representation vote in 2001, CSEA leaders have worked literally thousands of hours to administer the contract, conduct research for negotiations, draft contract articles, address the day-to-day questions and concerns of individual faculty members, and performed all other union activities on behalf of faculty in addition to their regular job duties. There will not be a contract without some form of reassigned time for union officers and Association representatives.

And there is other work to be done. Although there have been productive discussions on a few elements of CSEA's proposals to improve workload guidelines, many aspects of this article have not been fully discussed. The same is true about CSEA's proposals on salary (including a salary schedule) and benefits.


Both negotiating teams return to mediation this Thursday and Friday, June 30-July 1. As indicated above, there are serious issues that have not been resolved. We remain hopeful that, with a good faith effort from the College, negotiators can come to a fair agreement.

If no agreement can be reached this week, a hearing conducted by an outside fact finder will take place next Thursday and Friday, July 7-8. The fact finder's report must be accepted by both parties. (In our first contract talks, the College rejected the fact finder's report after faculty accepted it. Negotiations and increasing tensions about a possible work stoppage continued for another 4 months before an agreement was reached.)


It has become clear that the College intends to use the early retirement of some faculty and the retirement of several department chairs as an opportunity to reorganize some programs/departments. It is less clear whether the administration will use faculty retirements to reduce the number of full-time faculty. In the past, faculty positions have sometimes sat unfilled for more than a year.

We believe that, especially given the deplorable ratio of full-time to adjunct faculty, this practice is in effect a reduction in force (that is, a lay-off of faculty). This practice allows the Board of Trustees to construct a budget that appears to be spending a certain amount on faculty compensation, but the money allocated for these unfilled positions becomes extra cash that is then rolled into cash reserves at the end of a fiscal year. It has become clear that the College will use the Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP) and the cost savings it will produce to re-organize several programs or departments. CSEA wants to ensure that the Board at least maintains the current number of full-time faculty and, preferably, renews its commitment to improving the disgraceful imbalance that prompted our accrediting organization to note its concern about the ratio in its site visit report in 2000.

This issue is about more than contract negotiations. It is about maintaining and improving the quality of education for which Columbus State has earned an enviable reputation. In the past few years, that reputation has been jeopardized by a combination of administrative secrecy, an unwillingness to admit and address serious errors, and an increasingly ostrich-like approach to oversight by the Board of Trustees.

Five years ago the North Central Association for Accreditation of Colleges and Universities (NCA) made a site visit to CSCC as part of our re-accrediting process. In its written report, the site visit team noted the serious imbalance in the ratio of full-time to part-time faculty. Following that visit and report, the Board committed the College to hiring 48 new full-time faculty over a period of 3 years to address this serious structural flaw. For Autumn 2000, 16 new faculty were hired. However, with student enrollment still increasing at a double-digit rate, the Board abandoned its commitment the following year, hiring only 8 new full-time faculty. The situation has not improved. Today the ratio of full-time to part-time faculty is even worse than it was 5 years ago. In fact, given the number of students enrolled in the College, Columbus State's ratio of full-time to part-time faculty is the worst in the entire nation among community colleges. This is intolerable and unworthy of the College's reputation and the Mission Statement that guides its operation. Our students, our community, and our talented employees deserve better.

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

This record has been viewed 665 times.


Be the first to leave a comment.

Leave your comment
CAPTCHA Validation