What's Really Happening - 2005/10/17

 

 

What's Really Happening

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of October 17, 2005

SALARY INFORMATION

The pay vouchers issued Friday provide definitive evidence that the Board Last/Best/Final offer has been implemented. However, the legal status of full-time faculty's working conditions and terms of employment remains unclear. The Board's unprecedented action of imposing contract terms without an agreement leaves open the question of whether there is a contract or not. No other Ohio college administration or school board has unilaterally declared impasse while alternative proposals were on the table.

Our OEA attorney continues work on these issues, and we hope to have more specific information soon.

To put the Board's action in perspective, consider that the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics news release reported that the Consumer Price Index rose 4.7% for the 12 month period September 2004 to September 20 05. Even without considering loss of income due to increased health care costs, full-time faculty have suffered a real loss in wages of 1.7%. (Given their 2.5% raise, staff have suffered even more.)

DEDUCTIONS FOR HEALTH CARE?

A hearing date of Nov. 29 has been set for CSEA's unfair labor practice charge about the Board's imposition of a health care plan while negotiations were in progress. SERB has found probable cause to believe that the Board committed an unfair labor practice when it tried to avoid negotiating by taking health care off the table.

On a related note, at the recommendation of CSEA, many faculty selected Alternative Plan 2 when the administration forced employees to select an option from among its new options last spring. Those who did so may have noted that the October 15 pay voucher reflected only a 16% increase in premiums (maintaining the 80/20 share of costs from the last contract).

HOW SALARY FAIRNESS WAS UNDERMINED

Several faculty have called or emailed to inquire how to correct a situation that the Board and administration have created with the implemented terms. During bargaining, your Negotiating Team reached agreement with the Board negotiators on an article that would begin to take into account the large amounts of education and experience that many new faculty-in both divisions-were bringing to their new jobs. This article will allow faculty, beginning with faculty hired for Autumn Quarter 2005 with 15 or more points to receive starting salaries 4% above the base. With negotiations short-circuited by the Board's action, faculty hired last year will actually be paid LESS than some hired this year. How could this Happen?

Our goal since forming the Association has been to create a step system that would allow faculty to actually progress upward in pay as they spend time in rank and, hopefully, advance to higher ranks. Past practice--and now we've returned to it under the present conditions--is that the Board raises pay each year but at the same time increases the base. In other words, the pay ladder drops one step as you step up, and the higher parts of the pay range extends a comparable percentage above you. In this situation, a "range " becomes meaningless since you stay at the same point in the range: the bottom.

We began to address this in our initial contract with agreement to the 2% raise + a 2% step each year. However, the Board--tallying the number of union members (60% of all FT faculty)--decided that it would risk a confrontation or strike in order to force a return to the old practice. Of the other 40% of faculty who stood by as the Board acted, most decided that advancing upward in their pay "ranges", as well as maintaining a reasonable share of health care costs, was not that important; a much smaller group, already near the top of their pay ranges and comfortable with their security, decided that junior faculty didn't need the benefits that senior faculty had secured for themselves. For the next three years, most faculty will stay proportionately in the same place relative to other faculty.

In our first contract negotiations, we proposed that faculty would be placed retroactively based on their points. Even then, we recognized that the costs of this proposal were not economically acceptable. We discussed at length what the cut-off might be to begin making some improvements: Five years? Three? We realized that, no mater how far back we went, someone would "just barely" miss the cut-off. We finally said that we'd go for the current year, and through some hard bargaining were able to reach tentative agreement on it. We had hoped to get a salary schedule (a raise plus a step up in pay each year) as part of ongoing negotiations, or at least to retain the steps, but the Board's negotiators declared that they wouldn't discuss salary any more and have implemented their terms over our objections. So, we lost the opportunity to address the situation that has caught several faculty hired in the last few years. Had we been able to continue negotiations rather than have them unilaterally cut off by the Board, we would have bargained an agreement that avoided this obvious unfairness.

We'd hoped for better. With ongoing commitment and increased membership, we will do better.

WORK TO THE RULE

Since the beginning of Work to the Rule conditions, many faculty have resigned from college and department committees, and we have received information that several faculty representatives will not be attending further meetings of the Governance Councils. Some have withdrawn from extra-curricular activities. Faculty in several programs and departments have met, or will meet this week, to build support for each other.

Faculty's primary responsibility is to teach. To do this effectively entails much preparation, grading of papers, and improving individual practice within each faculty member's discipline. These activities are the primary components of our weekly allocation of 14 hours of mission and learning support. Under present conditions-imposed terms of work rather than a negotiated contract-it will be difficult to find the extra time (for committee work, extra-curricular activities, etc.) that we have brought to our jobs in the past.

We offer our appreciation for those faculty who rejected their lead instructor and program coordinator roles, and we voice our continued disappointment with those who chose not to support their colleagues by continuing to perform these extra services in their departments.

IN-SERVICE DAY PRESENTATION

CSEA representatives and representatives of the Physical Plant will present an In-Service Day session titled "Collective Bargaining: Building Community from Differing Interests." The 10 a.m. session will address questions of how employees can work together to re-build the sense of cooperation and commitment within the College that has been eroded over the past several years. We hope you'll join us.

Physical Plant employees expect to begin negotiations for their second agreement within the next month.

MEMBER MEETING THURSDAY

A CSEA member meeting will take place on this Thursday, October 20 at 3 PM in Franklin Hall 110. The meeting should last no more than an hour.

The meeting will begin Phase 2 of actions to address the Board's new imposed terms. Meeting agenda will include elections for Vice President and Parliamentarian, as well as for CSEA representatives to the OEA Representative Assembly. All will serve 2-year terms. Nominations will be accepted from the floor, and you may self-nominate by emailing Amy Brubaker by Thursday morning.

Members will also consider and approve the 2005-2006 budget. There will also be time for questions and discussion of ongoing actions and expanded organizing.


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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