What's Really Happening - 2005/07/13

 

 

What's Really Happening

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of July 13, 2005

WHAT HAPPENED IN MEDIATION AND FACT FINDING?

We apologize for the delay in reporting on the final days of negotiations, which included several days of mediation and a day-long (fact finding) hearing in which a professional mediator/arbitrator attempted to resolve outstanding issues in our contract talks. On July 25, the fact finder will issue a report in which, based on the testimony presented by CSEA and the College July 8, he will propose resolutions to the issues that reached impasse during negotiations.

The Board of Trustees and the CSEA membership then will have 7 days to approve or reject the report. If both sides agree with the report, the contract will be drawn up and submitted for ratification. If either party rejects the report, we will be faced with returning to negotiations or taking other action.

Over several days of mediation, we were able to resolve several issues, and CSEA withdrew several other new proposals in order to facilitate a settlement.

WHAT'S TENTATIVELY SETTLED?

Promotion & Tenure. We reached tentative agreement on new promotion and tenure procedures that will allow instructors to apply for promotion and tenure at the same time, in the fourth year of service. (This article is largely the result of several years of a work by a joint committee of faculty and administrators, chaired by Arts & Sciences Dean Dr. David Hockenbery.) CSEA negotiated several improvements in the document based on feedback received from faculty in forums held earlier this year.

This agreement would also begin to allow new hires to be placed above the lowest level in the current salary structure, based on the number of points they have at time of hire. Our proposal, however, is designed to prevent new hires from placing above faculty currently in rank.

Program Coordinators/Lead Instructors. We have tentatively agreed to a new article, based on sections of the existing Appendix to the contract, that clarifies the roles of program coordinators and lead instructors.

Grade Grievances. The parties also tentatively agreed that any change in procedures for grade grievances will occur only with the agreement of the Association.

Association Business. A tentative agreement on parts of Article 7/ Association Business would grant authority to the Association President to appoint a faculty representative to all College-level committees. (Currently the CSEA President may serve as a representative or appoint a representative to each of the Governance Councils.) This provides an opportunity for the Association to work closely with the administration in addressing issues that affect the entire campus. In the past, the College has chosen the faculty who serve on many committees; since most of these committees consider issues that affect all faculty, the Association is the logical source for providing representatives to such committees.

We could not reach agreement on a new proposal by CSEA that would develop a bank of reassigned time for use by the Association to administer the contract and deal with faculty concerns. This issue went to the fact finder.

Some issues considered by the fact finder were relatively uncomplicated. CSEA seeks to increase the number of days of accumulated sick leave that the College purchases at retirement from 40 to 50, and we tentatively agreed that personal time could be taken in increments of 1 hour rather than a minimum of two. (While negotiating the first contract, College representatives insisted that taking personal time in increments as low as 1 hour would create an administrative record-keeping nightmare; shortly after CSEA signed its contract, the College began to let all employees except faculty take personal leave in 1-hour increments. The sky did not fall.)

Workload: On July 8, prior to the fact finding hearing, CSEA and the College tentatively agreed to a number of clarifications of faculty workload and responsibilities. (1) Office hours can be cancelled to attend meetings that are initiated or sanctioned by the College. (2) Faculty can "flex" office hours-occasionally reschedule them-with the agreement of the department chair. Such requests can not be unreasonable denied. (3) Appropriate leave must be used if missed office hours are not rescheduled. (4) Faculty must maintain office hours during finals week, but they can vary from the hours posted for the rest of the quarter. These hours must be posted by the end of the final week of class. (5) With the approval of the department chair, faculty can serve up to 2 of their office hours in service to students, such as in a tutoring lab.

CSEA's bargaining team negotiated a significant shift in language governing how faculty use Mission and Learning Support time. Many faculty cited "mission and learning creep" as a growing problem. Since the Mission and Learning hours are generalized to allow teaching professional the flexibility to adjust their work practice to meet student and classroom needs, the College has come to believe that the concept (and measure) of "14 hours" is endlessly elastic. New Initiative? "That's part of your Mission and Learning time." More assignments and responsibilities? "That's part of your Mission and Learning time."

With only 14 hours available, faculty use the majority of this time to prepare for class and evaluate and grade student work. And there's committee work. At the program level. At the department level. At the division level. At the College level. And Governance Councils and their subcommittee meetings. And don't forget advising, or certification reports, or articulations, or department meetings, or division meetings, or Advisory Committee meetings. And work with student organizations. And the too-infrequent professional exchange with a colleague.

As a step toward professional treatment, CSEA tentatively agreed that faculty will define the scope of their work during this 14 hours. They will develop Mission and Learning Support plans that will contribute to supporting the College's mission and meeting department needs. Changes in the plan must be mutually agreed to by a faculty member and the department chair. Also, full-time faculty will have first choice of courses offered Summer Quarter, and any course that begins any quarter with 7 students will be considered a full course for purposes of payment for the number of contact hours. This specifically addresses the needs of students in several technical programs.

Of note among the tentative agreements on workload issues is a provision that the chairperson will take seniority into consideration in teaching assignments. Many departments already schedule classes by seniority, either through signing up in rotation or having experience taken into consideration as part of a department chair's normal practice. This tentative agreement officially recognizes experience as a basis for some considerations in workload matters. Another important change in scheduling will allow a faculty member to "reverse bank." That is, if a faculty member schedules only 14 or 15 hours in a given quarter, s/he can make up those hours in a subsequent quarter of the academic year. This is common at a number of other colleges.

Finally, a committee of 3 CSEA faculty and 3 administrators will revise the language of the 2001 Workload Model, now an Appendix to the contract, into contract language by July 2007.

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES THE FACT FINDER WILL DECIDE?

Academic Calendar Year (Article 3). CSEA wants to continue current contract language and past practice that allows faculty to use the 2 days prior to Autumn Quarter as they deem appropriate to prepare for the quarter. The College seeks to require faculty to be on campus for unspecified meetings and other activities, apparently because the College believes that if supervisors can't see faculty, then faculty must not be working. Since nearly 90% of all faculty teach full-time Summer Quarter and over 80% teach at least 1 course, CSEA believes that faculty professionals are the best judges of what needs to be done to prepare for another quarter.

Workload (Article 4). Only a few workload issues went to the fact finder. Several earlier proposals were withdrawn as agreement was reached on other issues. CSEA sought to limit to 2 the number of department meetings faculty would be required to attend in a given quarter. Negotiators also proposed a 12-hour rule, which would not require faculty to teach a late evening class and an early morning class on successive days without their agreement. Finally, CSEA sought to ensure that full-time faculty would have first right of refusal over adjunct faculty for teaching assignments.

Although CSEA was willing to accept some exemptions for programs that require ongoing departmental updates, the administration sought so many exemptions from the 12-hour request that supervisors could ignore it at will for nearly any purpose. Similarly, administration negotiators-unwilling to accept that CSEA's proposal would allow any schedule if the faculty member agreed or if the faculty member was the only available professional to teach certain courses-insisted on a 10-hour rule that would force a faculty member who taught until 10 p.m. to return at 8 a.m. the following morning.

Finally, CSEA sought to ensure that full-time faculty would have first right of refusal over adjunct faculty for teaching assignments. Administration representatives argued that department chairs should be able to assign courses to adjunct faculty at the expense of full-time faculty. CSEA supports adjunct faculty and recognizes their substantial skills and contributions to the College, but full-time faculty are required to teach a minimum number of classroom hours. They also have obligations related to committees, advising, and office hours. We don't believe it's unreasonable that full-time faculty should have first choice of what classes to teach.

Association Business (Article 7). CSEA leaders have worked for years on their own to support faculty. They brought issues to the administration's attention. When the administration ignored faculty concerns, CSEA leaders organized faculty and negotiated a contract that assured legal rights and a salary structure that will profoundly improve long-term income at the College and the retirement income of junior faculty in particular. They bargained for a process that would require the administration to follow its own Policy and Procedures Manual. They take phone calls, answer emails, and sit down with their colleagues to listen to their concerns and their questions about the contract. CSEA leadership communicates regularly with faculty. When the administration creates confusion by requiring faculty to choose new health care options in the middle of contract negotiations, CSEA officers, Negotiating Team members, and Association Representatives have had to clarify what's going on.

They have worked hard to represent faculty interests. And they've done it largely on their own time, in addition to all their other work at the College.

Initially, CSEA sought to annually have each full-time faculty member donate a day of sick leave that would be used in the form of reassigned time by Association officers and Representatives. As negotiations continued and administration negotiators modified their proposals to include the concept of reassigned time, CSEA proposed that each bargaining unit member donate 4 hours of personal time each year to a bank of reassigned hours that the Association president would assign to officers and Association representatives so they can serve faculty.

The College argued in fact finding that the small number of grievances filed in the 2+ years of the contract (signed in 2003 retroactive to July 1, 2002) indicated that CSEA officers and Association Representatives didn't do much work. CSEA knows otherwise. The College lacks insight into the number of grievances that weren't filed because CSEA found other ways to address the issues. As with the shortsighted approach to workload, these administrators assume that work isn't being done unless they can see it directly. But even non-CSEA faculty members know that their questions have been addressed promptly and accurately; they know that even those faculty who are freeloading on their dues-paying colleagues have had their interests represented and protected by CSEA.

The College would have those donated hours be subject to the College's control. Under the administration's proposal, CSEA leaders and representatives would have to seek approval in advance from both a department chair and Human Resources in order to address faculty concerns. They would have to file paperwork to justify each hour spent on union issues. In other words, the administration wants to run the faculty Association.

It's condescending. It's insulting. It's unacceptable. We reject it.

Sick Leave (Article 13). CSEA proposed increasing from 40 to 50 the number of accrued sick leave days that the College purchases from a faculty member at retirement. In the hearing, both sides expressed some willingness to accept 45.

Personal Leave (Article 14). This issue remained open only to the extent that the fact finder's decision on the Association Business article might affect it.

Seniority (Article 24). Our proposal would add to the current Article 24 a simple process for defining how seniority would be applied as well as an agreement that the Association and the College would jointly resolve any disagreements over applications of seniority. The College opposes any formal recognition of the concept of seniority.

Faculty Salary (Article 25). CSEA proposed a formal salary schedule that would assure that faculty could improve financially as they spent additional years in rank and earned promotions. Our proposal would establish a 2% increase in the base pay for the first 2 years of the contract and a 3% increase in the third year. At the same time, the salary schedule would provide for set increases for each year that a faculty member spent in rank. Over a 3-year term, the raises would actually cost less than what the College's historic raises of 5.5% would have cost over the same period. Salary schedules at other Ohio community colleges with collective bargaining contracts have considerably larger steps.

The administration's position is simple: the placement in rank and the adjustments in income achieved in the first contract have solved all problems, and it's time to revert to salary ranges, and, oh yes, 2.5 % raises for the first year and 3% raises during the second and third years of the contract. In a year in which the College's CEO received more than an 8% raise (over 4% of it hidden in a $750-a-month increase in housing allowance), the Board says to CSCC employees, "YOU have to sacrifice." And if you faculty want the full raise, you must construct a portfolio that proves you are worthy of your pay. Yes, in addition to your annual self-appraisal, the administration has suggested that faculty must assemble a portfolio each year to demonstrate that they are worthy of a raise.

CSEA presented 44 pages of financial documents showing that the College's cash reserves and investments have grown considerably since 1999, and CSEA negotiator and Accounting Professor Bill Mundy testified about how the Board frequently "allocates" funds that are not spent and thus accrue as cash reserves. (In a shameful and transparent ploy during negotiations on the first contract, the Board "allocated" millions of dollars for various "projects" to make the College's financial statements reflect less money available for the salary structure that CSEA was proposing in bargaining.)

Benefits/Article 28. We're all aware that health care costs are out of control, and that many private businesses are dumping the increased cost of health care on their employees. Other community colleges in the state pay an average of 93% of employees' health care premiums. Columbus State historically has paid 80%. This year, however, as the price of gasoline and utilities bounces into the stratosphere and employees receive minimal raises, the Board says it doesn't want to pay an extra dime for employee health care.

We'd all like prices to remain the same, but that's an unrealistic view of the world. It's understandable that employees might see some increases in the cost of their share of health care coverage, but it's unjust for anyone to assume that employees should pay a greater proportion of their health care when that proportion is already considerably below the average in the public sector.

CSEA's benefits proposal would have the College pick up 90% of the health care premium rather than 80%, bringing it more into line with other public sector employment. Our proposal includes a provision for a new open enrollment period for all bargaining unit members after contract ratification. This will give faculty the opportunity to realign their coverage based on the Agreement.

We do not oppose the options that the College is offering to encourage wellness and allow employees to assume more risk in their health care if they choose. We reject the concept that employees should shoulder the entire burden of cost increases. The College must continue to pay a reasonable proportion of this important benefit.

CSEA's Unfair Labor Practice complaint against the College made this issue more complicated in bargaining. Collective bargaining law requires that changes in benefits must be negotiated, yet the College attempted to impose on faculty the same changes in health care coverage it forced onto non-union employees. The College Health Care Committee defined in Article 11 of the Agreement is not a replacement for negotiations.

CSEA's benefits proposal also sought an increase in the life insurance benefit provided by the College from an amount equal to one year's salary to three years' salary (comparable to the President's coverage).

Distinguished Teaching Award. Annually, the College recognizes up to 4 faculty as Distinguished Teachers, an honor that for 20 years has carried with it a $1,000 cash award. To maintain some semblance of the honor the award is intended to convey, CSEA sought to have that amount increased to $2,000. Although administration negotiators acknowledged the legitimacy of the proposal, they eventually made their acceptance of it dependent on faculty accepting the higher health care costs of their own benefits proposal.

In its link for the Distinguished Teaching Award, the Columbus State web site notes, "One of the hallmarks of a climate for excellence in two-year colleges is the recognition and reward of excellence in teaching." In real dollars, the Distinguished Teaching Award is worth about 1/3 of the value it had when it was established. The cost of the proposal is $12,000 over 3 years. To hold this idea hostage by seeking concessions of hundreds of dollars in additional health care costs by every faculty member mocks the idea of the honor the award carries. On one hand, the administration preaches respect for teaching excellence; on the other, it cynically makes that respect conditional to accepting more out-of-pocket expenses in health care. We remain stunned by the administration's attitude.

Full-Time Faculty Ratio. When representatives of the College's accrediting body visited Columbus State in 2000, their report noted a serious imbalance in the proportion of full-time to adjunct faculty. (National and Ohio Board of Regents standards call for a 60/40 ratio of full-time to part-time faculty instruction.) In response, the Board committed the College to hiring 16 new faculty in Autumn Quarter 2000 and the same number in each of the following 2 years. In 2001 and since, however, the Board has ignored this commitment. The imbalance in 2005 is even greater than it was when our accrediting body remarked on it.

The proportion of courses taught by full-time faculty is around 30%. This new article would renew the College's commitment to excellence in education. CSEA's proposal would have the College "make every effort to increase the percentage of courses taught by full-time faculty," increasing the proportion of courses taught by full-time faculty to 45 % over the 3 years of the contract. The College's position is that it has the management right to increasingly rely on part-time instructors, essentially adding additional work to full-time faculty who work closely with, answers questions for, perform classroom observations of, and mentor in any number of ways these large numbers of adjunct faculty, all assumed to be part of our Mission and Learning Support time.

We are aware that the General Assembly has been regularly failing to adequately fund higher education in the state. Still, one of the primary strengths of the College has been its faculty. The personal stability derived from having regular course loads and paid benefits, as well as the institutional stability resulting from the presence of full-time faculty, ultimately provides greater service to students. We hope the Board will join us in a commitment to funding the faculty positions necessary to meet the needs resulting from the College's growth and increased commitment to its service area.

SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

Some people joke that a fact finder's job is to make both parties unhappy, or at least more unhappy with him than they are with each other. Regardless, the fact finder will issue his report on Monday, July 25. By law, the Association and the College each have 7 days to either accept or reject the fact finder's report. Failure to vote is considered a vote to accept the report. Your Association leaders will make their recommendations to the membership as to whether to approve or reject the fact finder's proposed settlement.

We will summarize the fact finder's report and forward it to all full-time faculty by Tuesday, July 26. The meeting to discuss the report will be Thursday, July 28, at 2 PM. The location of this meeting, as well as voting locations for July 29 and August 1, is forthcoming.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR NOW!

.for Thursday, July 28, at 2 PM. That's the time for a critical CSEA member meeting to review and vote on the fact finder's report that will propose a settlement to our months-long contract negotiations. Even if you can't attend the meeting-which we hope you can-there will be additional voting times on Friday, July 29 and Monday, August 1.

The meeting and voting locations are forthcoming. But MARK YOUR CALENDAR NOW for July 28 at 2 PM.

QUESTIONS ABOUT EARLY RETIREMENT BUY-OUT

We have anecdotal reports that the Human Resources office is telling faculty interested in the Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP) that their applications can not be processed until the contract is ratified. CSEA agreed to the ERIP in bargaining talks.

Under state law, early retirement incentives must be offered equally to all employees. We are working to determine how this apparent delay will affect the planning and scheduling of faculty retirements under the program.

CONGRATULATIONS ON RECEIPT OF TENURE

CSEA extends congratulations to the following faculty, all of whom were officially granted tenure at the May 26 meeting of the Board of Trustees:

Christopher Bell, Emergency Medical Services

Lee Blyth, Marketing

Rob Duffey, Dental/Prison Programs

Amy Hart, Hospitality Management

Dr. Tracy Little, Social & Behavioral Sciences

John Lundquist, Interactive Multimedia Technology

Dr. Terrence Olive, Veterinary Technology

Jonathan Packer, Emergency Medical Services

Dr. Keith Pepperell, Humanities

Dr. Susan Rogers, Social & Behavioral Sciences

Jane Winters, Nursing

Dr. Adele Wright, Mechanical Engineering Technology


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


Popularity:
This record has been viewed 486 times.

Comments:

Be the first to leave a comment.

Leave your comment
CAPTCHA Validation
CAPTCHA
Code: