What's Really Happening - 2005/09/23

 

 

What's Really Happening

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of September 23, 2005

FACULTY OVERWHELMINGLY REJECT "LAST/BEST/FINAL OFFER"-BOARD SAYS, "WHO CARES?"

With more than 80% of eligible CSEA members casting ballots, 97% voted to reject the Board's "last/best/final offer" during a 3-day voting period that ended Thursday.

The Board responded in a late-night email from the President, stating that the administration would implement its terms effective 10 a.m. this morning. CSEA has not received any documents that define the specific language of this implementation. Since the Board's unilateral action is of questionable legality and there is no "contract" (only imposed wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment), we are all in limbo until the administration clarifies its action.

The near-unanimous rejection of a forced settlement offered the Board an opportunity to return to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith. Instead, it has decided to implement its uncompromising terms. Aside from being a naked power play that suggests the campus will be ruled rather than governed, the Board's action poisons the administration-faculty relationship and, more significantly, is certain to inflict serious long-term damage on the College.

In a September 2 mediation session requested by Board negotiators, CSEA offered 2 new compromise proposals in an effort to reach an agreement. After consultation with the President, Board negotiators rejected any further discussion and told the mediator that they wanted to present CSEA with a "last/best/final offer." As a result of this, CSEA filed another unfair labor practice complaint with the State Employment Relations Board (SERB), this one charging the Board with bad faith bargaining. SERB has found probable cause to believe the Board committed an unfair labor practice when it implemented a new health care plan-a mandatory subject of bargaining under Ohio law-without negotiating the plan with CSEA.

It's important to note that this "last/best/final offer" was not the result of a breakdown in bargaining. As early as July-before the fact finder's report had been filed-sources told CSEA that the strategy of using a "last/best/final offer" to terminate negotiations on the Board's terms was discussed in an administrator's meeting and brought up again in subsequent meetings. Of course, we understood that such an "offer" might happen if negotiations broke down. But we did not expect the Board to cynically use a SERB mediator as an unwitting cover for bad faith. It is fundamentally dishonest to request a meeting for the exchange of "fresh ideas" and then call negotiations to a halt while flexible proposals were still on the table. Call it what it is: a breach of trust that calls into question the ethics of the entire leadership of the College.

BE READY FOR "EMERGENCY" BOARD MEETING

"What is the Board of Trustees-or is it the administration-afraid of?" That was the question flying among students, faculty, and staff Tuesday (9/20) after they received notification that the September 22 Board meeting had been canceled. It's a reasonable question. Only 6 hours earlier, CSEA had announced that students and faculty planned to march to the meeting and address the Board about the decline in student services, problems with registration and financial aid, and the ratio of students to full-time faculty.

Explanation for the cancellation kept changing. An administration spokesman first said that several Board members were unable to attend. When it was pointed out that 8 of 9 trustees had attended a Committee-of-the-Whole meeting the previous Thursday and expressed no conflicts with the scheduled meeting, another excuse emerged. The spokesman claimed that the cancellation was necessary because Governor Taft had not appointed replacements for 3 outgoing Board members. Then a reporter noted that Board members can serve 60 days beyond the expiration of their terms if a replacement has not been named.

For some reason, the administration does not want the Board to hear any dissenting views. This is a formula for institutional rot, and our commitment to the College's future demands that we speak out.

Expect that the Board will call an "emergency" meeting on short notice within the next 2 weeks. We will need the same commitment from students and faculty that prompted so many to agree to be present at the meeting that was canceled. We will notify you of your need to act quickly as soon as we receive information.

POSSIBLE STRIKE? RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE, LET YOUR VIEWS BE HEARD TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY

Many faculty have questions about what will happen if the Board implements its "Last/Best/Final Offer" over the objections of the college's teachers. Many others wonder about their rights and options (regardless of union membership) in a strike situation, and still others are concerned about what a strike would mean in practical, day-to-day terms.

The CSEA Crisis Committee has invited representatives of the Ohio Education Association to campus next Tuesday and Wednesday, September 28-29. They will be here from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day in the Mathematics Department conference room, 4th floor of Davidson Hall.

These trained personnel will be available to speak privately with any bargaining unit member (members and non-members alike) and answer questions about insurance, short-term loans, legal rights, and other issues related to a job action. As part of the OEA support services maintained by your Association dues, they will listen confidentially to your concerns and provide accurate information. Your participation will help OEA staff convey to the Executive Committee a more complete understanding of all faculty's viewpoints as we plan for future action.

The Board's rejection of further negotiation has created a crisis atmosphere. Many people are anxious. Sometimes it's easier to share your thoughts with a disinterested third party. Stop by the 4th floor of Davidson Hall next Tuesday or Wednesday, 9 a.m.- 6 p.m., have your questions answered, and tell OEA's support staff what you think.

Remember: it doesn't matter what your membership status is, or what your view of negotiations is, or whether you prefer reality TV over classic movies-what matters is that you take the time to say what you really think and get your questions answered. What you say will determine what we do. It's that important.

ELECTION OF OFFICERS AND REPRESENTATIVES OCTOBER 13 - MARK YOUR CALENDAR NOW

There will be a member meeting October 13 at 3 p.m. to hold elections for Vice President and Parliamentarian, as well as for 4 Association Representatives and a Senior Association Representative. All will serve 2-year terms. Members will also consider and approve the 2005-2006 budget.

Location is still unconfirmed, but please mark your calendar now and we'll follow up next week with the necessary information.

TEACHERS DESERVE BETTER

If you don't have your "Teachers Deserve Better" badge yet, make a quick call to one of the people listed below. You'll have a badge the same day, and we hope you'll wear yours daily. The helpful talking points on the back of each badge will provide reminders about the issues when you are inevitably asked, "What's really happening?"

Wear it whenever you're on campus (and off, if you like). It's your statement of strength in unity and support for your colleagues. If you're not wearing it to class, why pretend you deserve anything better than what's being forced upon you? If you won't wear a badge, why will you do for yourself?


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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