Sunday, October 29, 2017

Bargaining update #13

The NFA-CSN and CSN Administration bargaining teams met for bargaining sessions, on October 10th and October 26th. Various item were discussed with varying levels of progress being made; this update focuses on two of high priority for faculty: Salary and Benefits. These were discussed in these sessions, and NFA is disappointed to report that little progress was made.

Salary: The parties have been negotiating the parameters of internally-funded equity studies. On October 10th, Administration re-introduced a Salary proposal, having rescinded their previous proposal. The main content of Administration's October 10th proposal was regarding an equity study. Their proposal was substantially similar to that which they had previously made. NFA's critique of this proposal is the same as that of the previous, similar proposal, and can be found here. The NFA-CSN team spent a solid hour of the session expressing our view of the shortcomings of the Administration proposal.

Subsequently, on October 26th, Administration revised their Salary proposal. The revised proposal was improved by the addition at least of a timeline. However, on many other points, including above all the lack of a guaranteed amount of money to be distributed by the equity study, NFA continues to find Administration's proposal lacking.

Moreover, other important aspects of NFA's Salary proposal were not addressed, namely, initial placement, and overload pay (Administration has said they will bring an Overload Pay proposal to the next bargaining session).

On a positive note, Administration did indicate that they were returning to their original plan of performing an equity study this academic year (that plan had been canceled due to then-Chancellor Nichols' memo, which NFA successfully opposed). While NFA of course believes that equity studies negotiated in a CBA are the better vehicle for making salary adjustments, this will at least give Administration the chance to demonstrate good intentions in the meantime.

NFA-CSN will bring a Salary counter to the next bargaining session on November 6th. We have found that faculty feel strongly about the need to improve compensation, and from the beginning of negotiations we have consistently expressed this priority to Administration. We are not going to stop now.

We believe that the negotiations can potentially move forward productively, and we have always attempted to be reasonable. If however, an impasse develops, we will evaluate our options, including how to best call our bargaining unit members into action.

Benefits: October 26th, Administration brought their first counter on Benefits. Administration agreed to four parts of NFA's original proposal: that benefits not modified in the CBA are to continue; that the parties will jointly lobby for improvements to health insurance; that information regarding employee benefits will be provided through CAPE sessions; and that online teaching is an appropriate medical accommodation for faculty considering medical leave.

While agreement on these issues is welcomed, important items were not addressed in Administration's counter:

  1. Sick Leave Bank-- NFA has proposed a Sick Leave Bank be created for faculty, just as there is one for classifieds. Administration said that “for now the answer is no” citing uncertainty about how this would be implemented in Workday and also claiming that if it were implemented for CSN, it would have to be implemented NSHE-wide. NFA believes that the logistics in any case should be workable (there were sick leave banks before there were computers, after all), and that protection in the case of catastrophic illness through pooling voluntary donations of earned sick days would be of value.

  1. Sick leave payout upon retirement-- this is a benefit enjoyed by numerous of CSN's comparator institutions. Administration has claimed that cost prohibits CSN from having such a benefit, however they have not provided a clear cost estimate. NFA does not believe that the costs are as great as Administration apparently thinks. We look forward to looking through the data.

  1. Parental leave-- NFA has proposed that bargaining unit members going out on FMLA leave upon the birth or adoption of a child, be afforded five weeks of paid time off, before having to use sick leave and/or unpaid leave. Studies have shown the importance of parental leave, and some of CSN's comparator institutions have it. It would help elevate CSN's family-friendly status, and attract new faculty. However, Administration did not include this in their Benefits response.

  1. Health care premium increase freeze-- NFA had proposed CSN set aside money to absorb the cost of health care premium increases for bargaining unit members. Administration was not interested in this, saying they preferred not to have uncertain costs based on potential premium increases.
  2. Social Security opt-in-- as a number of faculty have previously contributed to Social Security, and are faced with a penalty for not having contributed while working as a state employee in Nevada, NFA had asked for an opt-in option to be established whereby faculty could voluntarily direct a portion of their retirement contribution toward Social Security. Administration expressed that they thought political resistance would be too great, since all the other state employees would lack the option.

NFA will bring a counter to the next bargaining session.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Administration's “clarification” on salary studies

On October 17th CSN President Richards sent an email titled “Clarification of Various Salary Studies” with information regarding different salary studies pursued by CSN, NSHE, and the Legislature.

In describing CSN equity studies, Dr. Richards wrote “Compares (and adjusts) salaries of academic faculty within the institution based on experience and education. Does not compare with other institutions.” The basis provided was NSHE Procedures and Guidelines Manual Chapter 3 Section 2.3.d.

NFA in our Salary proposal have asked for other criteria to apply to an equity study than comparison with other CSN salaries-- most importantly, that faculty's salaries be compared to the Community College Academic Salary Schedule. Does then the NFA proposal contradict the Procedures and Guidelines Manual?

No. The Procedures and Guidelines Manual Chapter 3 Section 2.3.d states that equity plans “must include but are not limited to the following:” and then lists features including comparison to the salaries of academic faculty within the institution. The Procedures and Guidelines Manual does not preclude use of other factors in an equity study, and in fact we know that other NSHE institutions have used a variety of criteria in conducting their equity studies.

Moreover, NSHE Code specifically allows for collective bargaining agreements to modify even NSHE Code. This is stated in NSHE Code Title 4 Chapter 4 Sections 13.2 and 13.3. Therefore even if it were not allowed for in the Procedures and Guidelines Manual, nor practiced at other NSHE institutions, NFA could still negotiate for other criteria to be used in equity studies.

We believe it is important to regularly compare CSN faculty salaries to the Salary Schedule, so that the Salary Schedule has meaning. Dr. Richards in his email notes that at the NSHE level a study is being carried out that may update the NSHE Salary Schedule. But what good will that do current CSN faculty? The Salary Schedule is used in determining initial salary placement for new faculty, but what else? Our research showed that approximately 80% of our bargaining unit have base salaries that fall below the median of their grade range.

We think that it should be the case that the Salary Schedule should be referenced in equity studies, so that faculty who are behind that objective measure can be brought up to speed. We do not want it to be the case that a faculty member's colleagues also being underpaid is sufficient justification not to address that faculty member being underpaid based on NSHE's own metrics.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Bargaining update #12

The teams met for bargaining sessions on August 11th and September 22nd. At the September 22nd session, tentative agreements were reached on Market Hires and Dues Deduction. This brings the total number of tentative agreements to seven. NFA is cautiously optimistic based on Administration's tone and their expression of interest in reaching a final agreement in a timely manner.

Salary memo:
At the August 11th meeting, Administration brought up that then-Acting Chancellor Jane Nichols had issued a memo prohibiting certain types of internally-funded salary adjustments. On this account, they rescinded without substitute their Salary proposal.

NFA opposed this memo, speaking to legislators, Chancellor Reilly, and ultimately testifying at a meeting of the Regents. Subsequently, Chancellor Reilly issued a clarification memo largely rescinding the Nichols memo. This had just come out before the September 22nd bargaining session, and at that session Administration indicated they would be bringing a new Salary proposal at the next meeting.

Other items from the sessions--

August 11th:

Market Hires: NFA presented a counter-proposal. This proposal was substantively very similar to Administration's last proposal. The main change was to the number of years after which a Market Hire could apply for tenure. NFA proposed five.

Dues Deduction: NFA proposed that current practice for dues deduction for NFA members continue.

September 22nd:

There was some discussion of an information request put in by NFA for documents related to EEOC/Affirmative Action topics. NFA wants this information in order to assess the equity situation at CSN, particularly in the light of various statements that have been made to us by faculty members (which, in the absence of evidence, we are unable to verify). However, Administration had rejected a previous request for faculty racial and age information, stating that such information was confidential. It does seem that they will provide at least some documents responsive to the current information request.

Market Hires: Administration accepted NFA's 8/11 proposal. While the language and parameters are a negotiated compromise, NFA is pleased that the sides were able to agree on the core concept of this proposal – that Market Hire faculty should have a path to tenure, as a way to redress the surprising fact that in general long-time Market Hire faculty have been paid less than tenure-track counterparts, while also lacking the job security of tenure. Now, once the CBA goes into effect, Market Hire faculty with five or more years of service will be able to apply for tenure.

Dues Deduction: Administration accepted NFA's 8/11 proposal.

Scheduling: The NFA-CSN team pushed for more frequent and longer meetings. Administration did not agree on the necessity of this, as the teams are also initiating a series of working group discussions on various proposals that could also move the process forward. The NFA-CSN team finds Administration's position reasonable if the working groups are indeed productive, but nonetheless still wants more and longer sessions as we feel these will help speed a resolution to negotiations.

In the end, bargaining sessions were agreed for:
Tuesday 10/10 3pm, West Charleston, Room TBA
Thursday 10/26 9am, North Las Vegas, Room TBA

Monday 11/6 3pm, West Charleston, Room TBA

State Assemblywoman Heidi Swank supports faculty collective bargaining with Open Letter to the Regents

Friday, June 16, 2017

Overall bargaining status check and review -- June 2017

The NFA-CSN and CSN Administration bargaining teams have been negotiating for the first faculty CBA (collectively bargained agreement) since November 2016. This is a general status update.

Schedule of negotiations:
There have been seventeen negotiating sessions so far; a rate of a little slower than one session every two weeks. NFA had preferred an average rate of one session per week, while Administration preferred a slower pace.

Both sides agreed on cycling the meetings across the three campuses.

Mandatory and permissive bargaining topics:
One issue that arose early on was the status of various bargaining topics. NSHE Code delineates certain subjects as “mandatory,” meaning that if one party wishes to negotiate on that subject, the other side must negotiate. Administration has taken the position that they only want to include items in the CBA on subjects found in that list. With that rationale, they have declined various NFA proposals.

As a general matter, so long as they are not unlawful, items other than those on the mandatory list may be negotiated, (these are called “permissive” subjects of bargaining). NFA's position has been, if an item would bring benefit to students, faculty, and/or the institution, then we will propose it, regardless of its status as mandatory or permissive. We hope that Administration will look at such proposals as attempts to promote the common good at CSN, and evaluate them with an open mind. This would be nothing out of the ordinary-- it is very rare to find an academic CBA that does not have some permissive items included.

Support for NFA bargaining:
NFA is proud to report that we are receiving grassroots support from a variety of quarters. We have collected hundreds of faculty support cards, we have circulated a student support petition that has garnered over two thousand signatures from CSN students, and we have received letters of support from several legislators. We will continue to build our support as bargaining proceeds.


Recognition – the employer recognizes NFA as the bargaining agent for CSN faculty.

Saving Clausea technical item stating that if part of the contract is legally invalidated, that does not invalidate the whole contract, and that the parties will renegotiate a part of the contract that is legally invalidated.

Distribution of the AgreementAdministration agrees to post the CBA on the CSN website, and to inform new hires about the bargaining unit and how to find the CBA.

Overload RequestsA request to work zero up to an including four overload units shall be granted by the Department Chair or Program Director; from above four up to and including six overload units may be granted by the Department Chair with the Dean's approval.

Safety – Several aspects:
  • Administration agrees to provide a safe and clean working environment.
  • Faculty can raise safety concerns, and have the right to a written response.
  • If a faculty member has concern for the safety of her/himself and/or students, he/she has the right to dismiss class if necessary.
  • NFA will have an appointee on the CSN Safety and Security Committee.

Salary (NFA first proposal 2/24/17; Administration counter 3/24/17; NFA counter 4/7/17) – Faculty consistently rank Salary as a key issue, and it is no mystery why: after the furloughs, base reduction, and salary freeze of the recession, faculty would like to recover some ground. NFA-CSN has consistently expressed the importance of compensation in these negotiations, and the high priority our team places on this item.

NFA's proposal had several parts:

  • Pay raises: equity studies to distribute salary increases equal to 2.5%, 3.0%, and 4.0% of the total salary pool shall be conducted in contract years one, two, and three respectively. The objective would be to make sure faculty salaries stack up to the Salary Schedule, to address compression and/or inversion, and to enhance competitiveness in recruitment and retention. No faculty member below their Q3 salary figure in the Salary Schedule should receive less than a one percent increase.

  • Initial placement: the system for initial salary placement shall be published; faculty shall have the right to a written explanation of their initial placement; evidence of an incorrect initial placement shall be given high consideration in a faculty member's salary equity review request.

  • Overload pay: increase pay per overload IU to $1017 (the 2014 NSHE-recommended figure.)

Administration's response did not contain provisions on initial placement or overload, nor did it commit any definite amount of money to an equity study. More information regarding the differences between the teams on Salary can be found here and here.

Benefits (NFA first proposal 3/10/17) – NFA-CSN's proposal contained various items:

  • Freeze bargaining unit members' contribution to health care premiums.
  • Create a joint NFA-CSN/CSN Administration committee to lobby appropriate entities for improvements or alternatives on health insurance.
  • Establish an opt-in for faculty to Social Security.
  • Allow faculty to apply unused sick and/or annual leave to either advance retirement or to receive a lump sum payment upon retirement.
  • Parental leave-- grant five weeks paid leave to be used prior to the use of sick days or unpaid leave in FMLA circumstances.
  • Create a sick leave bank.
  • Give faculty considering medical leave the opportunity to teach all online classes for up to two semesters, if qualified to teach online.

Administration has not countered; they have indicated they are exploring the feasibility of various of these items.

Grievance Procedure (NFA first proposal 11/14/16; Administration counter 4/28/17; NFA counter 5/8/17) – NFA proposed a standard grievance procedure. This is a procedure to enforce the CBA (not to be confused with the existing institutional complaint procedure). Administration said they preferred to see what items might be in the CBA before negotiating an enforcement mechanism, and their first response came more than five months later.

The Administration counter was similar in structure to the NFA proposal. NFA accepted some of Administration's preferences, while other differences remain, perhaps most important among them over NFA's organizational right to pursue a grievance. More information can be found here.

Arbitration (NFA first proposal 11/14/16) – NFA proposed a standard arbitration procedure. This is the typical final step of a grievance procedure in resolving a CBA-related dispute, where a ruling is made by a neutral third party with relevant technical expertise-- an arbitrator.

Administration said they preferred to see what items might be in the CBA before negotiating Arbitration. However, even after NFA had put its proposals on the table, they still have not responded on Arbitration. NFA does not see why, given that they have responded on Grievance Procedure. This is a mandatory subject of bargaining that NFA on which NFA has been trying to negotiate since the second session.

Both Grievance Procedure and Arbitration are vital to the overall integrity and meaningfulness of the CBA, and NFA sees no reason why Administration should fear straightforward, functional, standard Grievance and Arbitration articles, which is what we have proposed.

Non-Discrimination (NFA first proposal 11/14/16, Administration verbal counter 11/28/16, NFA counter 12/6/16, Administration written counter 12/12/16, NFA counter 2/24/17, NFA revision 4/28/17) – Both sides agree that the employer should not discriminate based on NFA membership or activity. The persistent disagreement is over whether the employer should commit in the CBA not to discriminate based on race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and a host of other criteria.

Administration says they do not want to, because they consider existing laws proscribing such discrimination as already providing sufficient protection. They said they would not want to supersede those legal protections with the CBA, and that anyway, discrimination is not a problem at CSN. NFA has modified its proposal to be clear that the protections offered by the CBA would be in addition to and not superseding or replacing existing protection offered by the law.

NFA believes that it is important to affirm non-discrimination in the CBA, regardless of whether discrimination is or is not a problem at CSN (a subject on which different people may have different opinions). NFA also notes that such language is common in academic CBAs. That is why NFA produced a document titled “Non-Discrimination Language in Academic CBAs: 101 Examples” containing one hundred and one examples of faculty CBAs with one form or another of similar language regarding non-discrimination.

Administration's refusal to agree to Non-Discrimination is a surprising inconsistency with its repeated statements on the subject, and hardly qualifies as going “above and beyond” on the issue.

More information can be found here.

Discipline and Termination (NFA's first proposal 3/10/17, Administration counter 3/24/17, NFA counter 5/8/17, Administration counter 5/30/17) – While various aspects of the disciplinary process are shaping up through negotiation, a difference of overwhelming importance to NFA remains: we think it should be the place of a neutral third party to make the final determination as to whether discipline is justified. There should be recourse outside the structures of the employer, as there is for the overwhelming majority of other unionized faculty and unionized workers in general. More information here.

Summer Teaching (NFA first proposal 2/13/17) – The NFA proposal has two parts:
  • Assignment: classes should be given out equitably such that no one receives two class assignments before someone else seeking to teach similar classes receives one.
  • Pay: increase pro-rata pay to .025 times base pay per IU, and increase fixed dollar amounts for classes not qualifying for pro-rata pay. Eliminate existing loophole by which full-time faculty members taking over classes from part-time instructors have been paid at the part-time rate.

Administration and NFA met to discuss cost estimates of this proposal (the estimates were within 10% of one another). Administration has not yet responded with a counter-proposal.

Contact Hours Multiplier (NFA first proposal 3/24/17) – NFA has proposed to increase the IU value multiplier for Laboratory and Studio contact hours incrementally over three years to bring it to 1. We believe that lab instruction should not be valued less than classroom instruction. Our objective is to achieve parity, as they have at TMCC. We have also proposed that the Clinic/Lab/Studio IU value multiplier (clinical supervision work engaged in primarily by Nursing faculty) should be increased from 0.4 to 0.5 over the course of three years, based on discussions with faculty engaged in that work.

Administration has not yet countered; they have indicated they are looking at the costs.

Shared Governance (NFA first proposal 12/12/16, NFA revision 4/28/17) – NFA's first proposal was multi-faceted, including among other things a call to conduct a collaborative study of Shared Governance to generate recommendations for improvements, and a process to develop explicit unit-level Shared Governance protocols. However, Administration responded that they were not interested. NFA then dropped those parts of the proposal, and reduced it to several core elements:

  • Faculty Senate: affirmation that duly adopted Faculty Senate policies are binding; requirement for CSN President to provide a written explanation of his/her decision to rescind a duly adopted Faculty Senate policy to all members of the Faculty Senate.
  • Consultation: that NFA and Administration will meet within two weeks of a request by the other party to consult on matters related to the CBA.
  • Release time: provision of release time and facilities support for Shared Governance activities.

Administration has not responded to NFA's revised proposal.

Faculty Engagement and Participation / Faculty Contracts (Administration first proposal 2/3/17, NFA counter-proposal 3/10/17) – This proposal was first made by Administration with the title “Faculty Engagement and Participation.” It specified the hours worked within the week and days worked within the year, and included provisions for mandatory attendance at various functions, including the supervisor's right to require attendance at events.

After discussion with constituents, NFA rejected the mandatory attendance provisions, citing among other things concerns about conflicts with teaching, and the fact that attendance is already accounted for in evaluations. Our counter, which we titled “Faculty Contracts,” came back on hours worked within the week and days worked within the year, by proposing the status quo, broken out by contract type (Administration's proposal did not account for the different contract types).

Market Hires (NFA first proposal 2/24/17, Administration counter 3/24/17, NFA counter 4/7/17, Administration counter 5/30/17) – NFA was able to determine that, far from being paid above the average faculty member in exchange for foregoing the tenure track, Market Hires in fact make on average ten thousand dollars less than the overall average faculty salary. There are many valuable faculty, including faculty working in CTE (Career and Technical Education), who are Market Hires, and high attrition in this category resulting from lack of job security and lagging salary is a detriment to the College's mission. NFA therefore proposed a path to tenure for Market Hires. Administration has accepted the principle, but the details are still under negotiation.

Counselors (NFA first proposal 2/3/17, NFA revision 5/30/17) – The provision of quality and accessible academic counseling is vital to student success. Counselors had numerous suggestions to improve the functioning of their unit, which has been struggling with under-staffing and speed-up. These were listed in NFA's first proposal on Counselors.

However, Administration is implementing a restructuring plan that was more radical than Counselors had envisioned at the time of the first proposal. The restructuring will move the bulk of the academic counseling work to advisors-- non-tenure-track positions with no degree requirement. Counselors will be reserved as a less numerous and more elite position. In light of the changed situation, NFA presented a revised Counselors proposal.

Librarians (NFA first proposal 2/24/17) – The NFA proposal contained five items generated by librarians, dealing with the administrative structure and place of the library unit, the compensation for “site coordinator” duties (which had formerly been compensated but currently are not), and librarian contracts. Administration has not responded.

Faculty Offices (NFA first proposal 12/6/16) – The NFA proposal in it's entirety reads “CSN administration shall provide one functionally equipped faculty office per bargaining unit faculty member. The faculty member has the right for this office to be located on the campus at which the faculty member performs the majority of his/her in-person instruction.”

Administration asked a question about what would apply for faculty teaching one hundred percent online, but did not subsequently make any counter-proposal. NFA sees no reason why this very basic proposal would be objectionable. It is plainly beneficial for students to have faculty available in offices on the same campus on which they are receiving instruction.

Work out of Title (NFA first proposal 3/24/17, Administration counter 4/28/17, NFA counter 5/8/17) – Spurred by complaints from the faculty, the idea of NFA's proposal is to provide a disincentive for the assignment of non-professionally-appropriate work tasks to faculty, by imposing an extra cost for such assignments.

Administration came back with a counter regarding overtime assignments. While this contained reasonable elements, it did not address the fundamental motivation of the NFA proposal. NFA countered by including a version of Administration's overtime idea, while maintaining our position that there faculty should have protection against the assignment of non-professionally-appropriate work tasks.

Successorship (NFA first proposal 12/12/16, NFA revision 5/19/17) – The first NFA proposal contained two aspects: protection in the case of outsourcing or reorganization, and requirement that the employer negotiate outsourcing with NFA. Outsourcing is not foreign to higher education-- it can happen, and has, including in NSHE. Faculty deserve the basic protection of a guarantee of continued employment under the terms of the CBA.

Subsequently, NFA revised this proposal to also include details of contract duration and re-negotiation. We also struck the proposed requirement for negotiations with NFA regarding outsourcing, to focus on the most basic element of our proposal-- that faculty should continue to be employed and the CBA continue to apply in the case of outsourcing.

Emergency and Temporary Faculty Appointments Applied to Tenure (NFA first proposal 2/3/17) – The idea of the NFA proposal is that e-hire time should count toward a faculty member's tenure clock, if the faculty member so chooses. E-hires are common at CSN and those who are successful are often hired into permanent positions. In those cases, the e-hire time is sometimes applied to the tenure clock and sometimes not, depending on the specifics of the situation (does the faculty member know this is possible? does the Department Chair want to do it? etc.) Our proposal aims to establish a clear, standardized procedure.

Administration has said they are investigating the idea, but has not yet responded.

MFA as a Grade 5 Qualification for Salary (NFA first proposal 2/3/17, Administration counter 5/8/17, NFA counter 5/19/17) – There are a number of reasons why the MFA degree should be considered a highest-qualification for fields in which it is relevant, and at various other higher education institutions it is. Administration has accepted the idea in principle and the negotiation is now focused on what fields the MFA is relevant to. More information on this topic here.

Hiring (NFA first proposal 2/13/17) – The NFA proposal is based on the existing hiring policy, but varies by pushing for a greater role and powers for the faculty search committee in the hiring process (the first committee). Formerly, the first committee had greater powers, but over time they have been eroded. Given that the first committee is the only one with access to a teaching demonstration, and given that faculty have important expertise in judging the quality of a potential new hire, we see recovering some of the first committee's authority as highly likely to benefit CSN overall by increasing the average quality of hires.

NFA's proposal also includes some other modifications, including granting limited relocation expense reimbursement to faculty hired from outside the Las Vegas area. Relocation expense reimbursement is a perk that will help attract quality candidates, and will help faculty through a potentially lean period between paychecks, given that the first CSN paycheck for July 1st hires comes in October.

Administration has said they are preparing their counter.

Program Directors (NFA first proposal 4/7/17) – Defines a standard set of duties and authority for Program Directors, as well as procedures for evaluating, adding and removing Program Directors, and contains increases to Program Director compensation in the form of a stipend and the establishment of a minimum of three IUs release per semester (currently many Program Directors receive two IUs when formerly almost all had been at three or above, a change that was implemented in 2016).

Administration has indicated that compensation “could be negotiated,” but that they do not want to establish any duties, authorities, or procedures for Program Directors in the CBA. They said that they don't want “job descriptions” in the CBA, but that point aside, this proposal does not establish a job description-- Program Director is a set of additional duties. It is normal in an academic CBA to have special roles with extra duties described in the CBA, including compensation, and associated procedures.

Department Chairs (NFA first proposal 5/8/17) – Similarly to the Program Director proposal, the Department Chair proposal delineates the role, compensation, and associated procedures for Department Chairs. The proposal is status quo policy, with one change made in the election procedure, to address a situation that arose in a Department Chair election last semester.

Administration's response to the proposal was similar to its response for Program Directors, and NFA believes the same arguments apply as to why Department Chair should be included in the contract more fully than just compensation. Intrinsically tied to compensation for extra duties are what the extra duties are, and how a faculty member gets or loses the ability to perform them.

Faculty Infobook (NFA first proposal 11/28/16, NFA revision 4/28/17) – this proposal was spurred by the Faculty Handbook being out of date (last updated 2013), and the difficulty some faculty have experienced in finding past versions of policies and the time periods in which they had applied. The proposal initially called for yearly updating of the Faculty Handbook, for timely updating of the Policies and Procedures website, for hardcopies of the Faculty Handbook and the Policies and Procedures Manual to be available in the libraries, and for an archive of those documents to be created for the purpose of historical record and housed in the library.

Administration objected to the use of the word “handbook” as they say a handbook can be construed to be creating a legal contract, accordingly NFA changed to the term “infobook” – it was never our intention to create some kind of back-door contract. Administration also objected to the production of hardcopies and said an archive was unnecessary because historical policy information was already readily available.

To move forward, we pared our proposal down to its most core idea-- that the Infobook should be updated yearly in consultation with NFA, and that the Policies and Procedures website be updated in a timely fashion.

Emeritus Status (NFA first proposal 11/28/16) – This proposal was for status quo policy. Administration said they do not want to include anything on Emeritus Status in the CBA. NFA argued that this is a mandatory subject of bargaining because it relates to compensation (compensation for emeritus work is described in the existing policy). Administration argued that emeritus faculty are not in the bargaining unit, therefore that is irrelevant. NFA argued that the procedure to obtain emeritus status may occur when the faculty member is in the bargaining unit (existing policy states it can take place within a year of retirement-- either before or after) and therefore it is relevant, and furthermore a “procedure for addition in workforce,” another mandatory bargaining subject.

NFA's perspective, is that it is hard to see why Administration would object to putting status quo policy that is working well into the CBA. Is there some plan to change this policy in the future?

Academic Freedom (NFA first proposal 12/6/16) – Faculty had expressed to NFA concern that academic freedom should be safeguarded. Academic freedom is a core value of AAUP, and AAUP unions always seek to establish it contractually. CSN's existing policy is good, so that is what NFA proposed go into the CBA. However, Administration said that they had no interest in putting the policy in the CBA. Again we are left to wonder, why wouldn't Administration agree to making this policy enforceable via the CBA?

Financial Exigency (NFA first proposal 2/3/17, Administration counter 2/13/17, NFA counter 2/24/17, Administration counter 3/10/17, NFA counter 4/7/17, Administration counter 4/28/17) – makes various changes or clarifications to NSHE code regarding procedures surrounding the declaration of financial exigency and associated layoffs. Through a process of give and take, a reasonable compromise has been reached, with one point of disagreement still outstanding-- NFA proposes that a faculty member who was recommended not to be laid off by his/her case review committee, but who was nonetheless laid off by the CSN President, should have the right to appeal that decision to the Chancellor.

To NFA, this seems like common sense. What is the cost-- a little bit of the Chancellor's time? With someone's job set to be lost through no fault of their own, and a review committee backing that person's continued employment, surely review from a higher authority would be beneficial.

Immigration Status (NFA first proposal 3/24/17) – this short proposal simply asks that faculty members not be compelled to report the immigration status of members of the CSN community, nor be compelled to deny a student services based on immigration status.

Given that CSN is a Hispanic Serving Institution in a diverse city, with a diverse faculty and student body, and that this proposal would not require any changes from present practice, NFA had thought this would be an uncontroversial proposal. However, Administration said that while they agreed with the spirit of the proposal, they did not want such a provision to appear in the CBA.

The CBA and NSHE Code, Policies and Practices (NFA first proposal 11/28/16, NFA revision 5/8/17) – the purpose of this proposal is to indicate the role of the CBA in the overall policy environment in which faculty are situated. As per NSHE code, the CBA articles may modify or supersede NSHE Code, but in cases where NSHE Code is not modified or superseded by the CBA, Code continues in effect.

NFA considers it beneficial to have an explanation of the role of the CBA attached to the CBA, to help make it user-friendly. Administration has agreed that the description of the role of the CBA in the proposal is accurate. However there is some question about unintended legal consequences (the article possibly giving NFA the right to grieve non-CBA policies was discussed at the table). That was never NFA's intention with this proposal, and NFA is open to finding a way to remove the possibility of any such loop-holes.

Professional Enrichment Programs (NFA first proposal 4/7/17) – Several aspects:

  • Salary advancement through professional development: specifies aspects of this procedure; importantly, an accounting of progress toward advancement shall be maintained by HR, and available to the faculty member.
  • Professional development: sufficient travel funding shall be maintained; new or master course creation and other activities should be incentivized monetarily or through release time.
  • Sabbatical: specifies aspects of the sabbatical process, including the necessity for a written justification should a sabbatical application be denied.

Administration has not yet responded.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Bargaining update #11

The teams met for a bargaining session Tuesday, May 30th, at North Las Vegas campus. NFA-CSN brought a revised proposal on Counselors, while Administration brought counters on Market Hires and Discipline and Termination.

The NFA-CSN team also indicated our acceptance, pending resolution of terminological differences, of Administration's counters on Overload Requests and Safety.

Counselors: The NFA-CSN revised proposal was presented by Counselor Luis Ortega. It had been updated based on the restructuring plan for Counseling and Advising that Administration is moving forward. The Counselors seek to contractually establish some of the terms described in the draft restructuring plan, for example that Counselor compensation and tenure will be unaffected by the restructuring.

Administration counter on Market Hires: Administration changed their proposal on Market Hires in two ways. First, they increased the number of years after which a Market Hire would be eligible to apply for tenure from four to six; second, they wanted to establish that a Market Hire would not be placed on the salary schedule after conversion.

Administration's reasoning on the first is that the Market Hire should have come in at a higher salary, so these extra years should be a counterbalancing consideration. On the second, there appears to be some concern that placing Market Hires on the salary schedule will open up the possibility for other faculty to make equity adjustment requests based on the Market Hire's potentially higher salary.

While NFA is open to arguing the merits of these rationales, in the first instance it is disappointing that Administration would negatively shift aspects of their already-made proposal, in effect worsening their first proposal.

Administration counter on Discipline: NFA-CSN had made large movement from our original proposal in response to Administration's first counter. However, Administration made hardly any movement in their second counter. This lack of movement included not incorporating or addressing NFA's suggested technical language regarding faculty discipline committee administration, which presumably should have been non-controversial, for unstated reasons.

Still more concerning is that an important difference in principle remains regarding the final authority in disciplinary cases. NFA-CSN feels strongly that this authority should properly rest with a neutral third party, such as an arbitrator or a faculty committee. If the employer terminates a faculty member, that faculty member should have the right to have the decision reviewed by a neutral third party, and invalidated if it was flawed.

This is a basic fairness issue, and a right enjoyed by virtually all unionized workers, both in higher education and in general. For good reason-- besides helping ensuring justice is done, having this right promotes a positive work environment, since it greatly diminishes the possibility or appearance that disciplinary decisions have been taken for improper reasons.

Administration on the other hand, has stated their preference that the decision of the CSN President should be final in cases of discipline and termination. They say that the President is currently the ultimate hiring and firing authority and they want it to stay that way.

NFA-CSN has not seen any compelling reason why having the President as the final authority on discipline and termination rather than a neutral third party would lead to more accurate and fair outcomes; nor why it would contribute to the best work environment possible; nor why CSN faculty should not have this right when so many other unionized faculty and other workers do.  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bargaining update #10

The teams met for bargaining sessions Monday, May 8th on North Las Vegas campus, and Friday May 19th, on West Charleston campus. These sessions were somewhat low-key, as due to family and work obligations Administration Lead Negotiator Patty Charlton was absent from both, and CSN General Counsel Richard Hinckley was absent from the first.

Similar items were discussed at both meetings.

MFA as Grade 5 credential for salary: NFA had previously proposed that a MFA be counted as a Grade 5 salary credential for faculty in relevant fields. Reasons include:

  • MFA may be the terminal degree;
  • A course being taught by an MFA aids in establishing that the course's units are transferable;
  • In the past MFA has been treated as a Grade 5 salary credential at CSN;
  • MFA is the only degree besides PhD that research Universities will treat as a qualifying credential for tenure-track positions;
  • MFA is accepted by other community colleges as a highest qualification.

On 5/8, Administration countered by accepting the basic premise that MFA should count for Grade 5 for applicable faculty, and seeking to define the precise areas in which that would be. Administration's proposal was that it should be for “Studio Arts,” based on policy from Austin Community College, considered a comparator institution to CSN.

As to what precisely “Studio Arts” might refer to at CSN, on 5/19 NFA presented a counter listing out areas in Fine Arts, Media Technologies, and Creative Writing in English. These are productive and/or performative areas, most of which take place in a physical studio, where MFA is commonly recognized as a relevant credential, and in which there are faculty teaching at CSN who are already having their MFA counted as a Grade 5 credential.

New proposal- Department Chairs: On 5/8, NFA brought a new proposal regarding Department Chairs. This was in specific reaction to a situation that arose with a Department Chair election this semester. The NFA proposal was status quo Department Chair policy, with one alteration made to address the situation that occurred.

Administration returned on 5/19 saying that they did not want to negotiate anything on Department Chairs other than compensation, which is a mandatory subject of bargaining. It was later noted that they felt the same way about Program Directors.

NFA immediately pointed out that in the TMCC contract, all aspects of the Program Director and Department Chair roles are spelled out. Administration responded that they were not moved by this. According to their thinking, these were permissive topics that TMCC Administration chose to negotiate, but that they prefer not to.

NFA believes that in fact the role, duties, and process to get and lose Department Chair and Program Director status, are all mandatory subjects of bargaining implicitly tied to compensation. You cannot negotiate compensation without negotiating “for what.”

The TMCC contract is sensible in this regard. We also note that both Administration Lead Negotiator Patty Charlton, and team member John Adlish, at a previous session invited an NFA proposal on Department Chairs along the lines of our Program Directors proposal.

Revised proposal- Successorship: On 5/19, NFA presented a revised proposal on Successorship. This added some new sections formally proposing a contract duration of three years (on which the parties had appeared to be in informal agreement), that the parties should be able to reopen the contract for modifications upon mutual agreement, and that the contract should continue in effect if a successor agreement has not yet been ratified at the time of its expiration.

The proposal also modified the no-outsourcing language by taking out the proposed requirement for Administration to meet and negotiate with NFA over any outsourcing, while keeping our core point that in the case of oursourcing or reorganization, bargaining unit members should keep their employment and the new employing entity should be made to recognize NFA and be bound by the CBA.

The NFA team presented a number of cautionary tales about outsourcing in higher education. Team member John Aliano formerly worked at the College of Sante Fe where all faculty lost their tenure status and the school was privatized. Various other examples were presented, including NSHE's push to outsource DE several years ago, and the outsourcing of IT at CSN. Faculty should have the guarantee of protection of the CBA and union status in the case that something like this affects members of the CSN bargaining unit.

Administration listened to NFA's arguments and then asked what protections tenure status would afford in this kind of scenario. The NFA team raised several reasons why this would not be enough, from the fact that not all the bargaining unit has tenure (pre-tenure and market hire faculty), to the potential for financial exigency layoffs as part of the outsourcing process, to, as Aminul Km of Math pointed out, the loss of teaching work for the bargaining unit leading to later layoffs.

For NFA, outsourcing is a dangerous game, attractive to some because of cheapness, that can lead to a drastic decline in instructional quality, hurting students. We want to make sure that bargaining unit members continue to be employed under the same CBA-established conditions, so that we can be at ease knowing that we will be able to continue to provide quality education to students.

Revised proposal- Policies and Practices: On 5/8 NFA presented a revised version of our Policies and Practices proposal. It distilled our original proposal down to its most essential elements: a description of the authority of the CBA and what it will and will not do vis a vis other policies. It indicates that, as per NSHE code, the CBA is the highest order policy document, and that other policies inconsistent with or contradicting the CBA are superseded by the CBA, while at the same time other policies that are consistent with and not addressed by the CBA are not negated by the existence of the CBA.

Administration agreed with the description of the authority and role of the CBA, but did not want to put this article into the CBA. They indicated some concern about it granting NFA the ability to grieve non-CBA policies through the CBA. That is not NFA's intention with this item, and we are confident we can find a way to address this concern.

Overload Requests: NFA and Administration went back and forth with minute changes to the Overload Requests proposal, which is very similar to status quo practice. The first four units of overload “shall be granted” and units above four up to six “may be granted” by the Department Chair, in consultation with the Program Director if applicable, with approval of the Dean (a small change from requiring VPAA approval).

Work out of Title: The parties were at cross-purposes regarding Work out of Title, which was discussed in both sessions. The intention of NFA's proposal was to assure that faculty would not be assigned inappropriate work tasks as part of normal work time. Administration's counter dealt only with the assigning of additional tasks outside of normal work time. So the two proposals did not address the same thing.

At the second session, the NFA team amended much of Administration's language regarding additional tasks into our proposal. But Administration was not interested in NFA's proposed protection on the types of work faculty could be made to do (namely, that if a faculty member was assigned a task not in his/her job description, he/she would be due extra pay). One bone of contention was Administration's not wanting to include any job descriptions in the CBA. NFA believes that having clear, well-defined expectations for what kind of work a faculty member may be expected to do would be of benefit.

The bottom line for NFA is that faculty members are professionals, and due the professional respect of a guarantee that they will not be made to do inappropriate work-- or at least, the guarantee that if needs must and they are made to, it will not happen frequently and they will receive additional pay as a consideration.

Grievance Procedure: Administration's first counter on Grievance Procedure (with grievance defined as an allegation that the CBA has been violated, NOT grievance in the sense of an institutional/NSHE complaint not related to the CBA) had a similar structure to NFA's first proposal. Differences included:

  • Whether NFA as an organization should have the right to pursue a grievance
  • How long various time periods for filing and responding to a grievance should be
  • Who on the part of Administration should be involved in each step of the process
  • Whether NFA should have organizational control over what grievances go to arbitration

NFA countered on 5/8 holding that NFA as an organization should have the right to pursue a grievance, and that we should have control over what grievances go to arbitration. Both are normal rights for a union to have, and important. We adopted some of Administration's numbers on time periods for filing and responding, and in other cases moved our numbers closer to theirs. We accepted Administration's language on who would be involved on their part in each step of the process.

Discipline and Termination: NFA presented a Discipline and Termination counter on 5/8. Our counter adopted a large amount of language from Administration's first counter. In their counter, Administration had listed four points of disagreement with our original proposal, and we made changes addressing three of the four points (Title IX, apparently unclear language around discipline panel selection, standard of proof).

We did not accept Administration's fourth point, that the final authority in any case of discipline must be the College President. We believe it is best that this power rests with a third party. We have proposed that a faculty discipline panel, or an arbitrator serve this function. Having discipline decisions subject to review and confirmation or denial by a third party is normal in a union context. Unionized hotel workers and tradespeople have that right, and so should faculty. We don't believe this should be particularly controversial.

Some disagreement continued on the standard of evidence required for termination. NSHE code asks for “evidence which establishes that it is more likely than not that the respondent has violated the rules of conduct.” NFA added the word “much” to “more likely than not” to indicate we think it should be more likely than an approximate coin flip that a person has actually done what they are being fired for supposedly having done. Administration said that they saw our point, but that they preferred to keep a consistent standard with NSHE and general legal practice, as “much more likely” does not have an established legal interpretation.

Despite the differences on both Grievance Procedure and Discipline and Termination, Administration expressed that they thought we weren't too far from agreement. NFA is also cautiously optimistic.