What's Really Happening - 2005/08/03

 

 

What's Really Happening

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of August 3, 2005

CSEA MEMBERS REJECT FACT FINDER'S REPORT

In voting July 28 and 29, and August 1, CSEA members overwhelmingly rejected the recommendations of a fact finder that would have settled outstanding issues in the bargaining of CSEA's second contract. Nearly 90% of the voting members sent the Negotiating Team an unequivocal message to take back to the bargaining table.

Association members were unwilling to accept a net loss in pay that would have resulted from a 3.5% raise (inflation for the past year exceeded 3%) and substantial increases in health care costs. By eliminating step increases within rank, the fact finder's report also would have halted long-needed improvements in compensation that began in the first contract.

The Board of Trustees had unanimously rejected the report at its meeting July 28. Following the vote, Board President Dr. Susan Finn spoke for the Board, saying that it was "generally pleased with the report" but that the Board had particular problems with the recommendations on health care and salary. Dr. Finn stated that the College needed to have "one consistent [health care] plan for all employees," rejecting a recommendation that would maintain faculty's current share of health care premiums (which at an 80/20 sharing is already the highest percentage paid by any community college faculty in the state). She further stated that the Board believed that the 3.5% raises (just barely above the inflation rate) recommended by the fact finder for each year of the contract, "especially in the first year, are too high."

JUST HOW MUCH RAISE IS "TOO HIGH"?

Let's look at the past few years of CEO compensation at CSCC. The President got an 8.3% raise in her contract this past year. (4% of it--a raise of $9,600 annually--was disguised as an increase in the President's "housing allowance.") The Board has also funds an insurance annuity for her and pays the President's entire STRS retirement.

Her annual increases in total compensation for the years 1997 through 2004 have been: 7.1%, 9.9%, 7.5%, 7.2%, 8.4%, 7.4%, 4.6%, and 6.5%. The Board also gave the President a $75,000 longevity bonus in 2004.

Yet a salary schedule or a 3.5% for faculty is considered too much? Does the Board have no sense of shame? Or is the increasingly corporate structure of the College increasingly being reflected in the compensation of its CEO?

BEHIND THE FACT FINDER'S RECOMMENDATIONS

Some background: Administration negotiators insisted that the negotiations follow statutory time lines, and early in the twice-a-week meetings they suggested scheduling a fact finding hearing. This was necessary, they said, because we needed to get on a fact finder's calendar.

It was clear that the administration's representatives were unwilling to address what they knew were the most complex, critical, and difficult issues: salary and benefits. Since financial issues are commonly the last issues bargained, talks proceeded on non-financial issues and the parties reached tentative agreement on a variety issues.

Other issues were unnecessarily dragged out. For example, CSEA proposed that meetings of the College Health Care Committee not be held between quarters, when faculty are largely off campus on uncompensated time. The committee-made up of representatives from CSEA, the 2 staff unions (Physical Plant and Public Safety), non-unionized staff (Staff Advisory Council) and the administration-researches issues related to health insurance. This issue of basic courtesy and respect went through a half dozen counter-proposals over a period of FIVE WEEKS before the administration, with the intervention of a State Employment Relations Board mediator, finally agreed to CSEA's original proposal.

On May 19, by agreement, the negotiating teams exchanged proposals on financial issues, with CSEA proposing a salary schedule and changes in the health care premiums paid by the College. Through the end of May and into early June, and when mediation resumed in late June after the quarter break, the same SERB mediator worked with both parties. As the July 8-9 fact finding hearing approached, CSEA continually requested discussion of these issues. But each time either subject was raised by CSEA, administration representatives were not prepared to negotiate on the issue.

So when we arrived at fact finding, we hadn't negotiated at all on financial issues. Between the lines of the report of the fact finder, his irritation is obvious. Basically, the administration's negotiators played to a tie, stalled, ran out the clock, and hoped that the referee would sort out who won and who lost. And the referee essentially said, "I won't resolve a problem [as opposed to a 'challenge'] that you didn't even start to talk about, let alone seriously negotiate."

So now the question: Is the administration ready to seriously negotiate?

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Based on faculty comments at last Thursday's union meeting and other discussions with faculty, CSEA Negotiating Team members are working with the Executive Committee to prepare for a return to negotiations as well as for other possibilities. We will continue to keep you all informed about What's Really Happening.


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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