Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bargaining Update #17

Two sessions have occurred since the last update:

NEGOTIATIONS, March 23, 2018

NFA-CSN and CSN Administration teams met on the Friday before Spring Break. Tentative agreement was reached on a contract provision enabling tenure-track faculty to count two consecutive semesters of full-time E-Hire experience in their probationary period, speeding the tenure clock if this experience includes college service and professional development. Other discussions revealed new elements of Administration’s plans to overhaul working conditions at the college.

Contact Hours Multiplier: NFA presented research showing that CSN’s .75IU rate for Lab/Studio contact hours is subpar. NFA proposes a compromise increase to .85IU with “mutual agreement” in Section 4 allowing future changes pending results of Administration’s compensation study.

Counselors: Administration’s counter-proposal refuses to guarantee specific IUs for extra work because the use of IUs is being studied now and new policy will be written for future implementation. Administration refuses to include organizational issues in the contract, like Counselors having a Department Chair, because the new AVP arriving May 1 will need to work her process for reorganizing Counseling. NFA asserted counselors’ and teaching faculty’s rights to contribute input in this process since we see most directly how accessible counseling in the Schools has improved student success.

Department Chairs: NFA’s counter-proposal stipulates that the reason(s) for disqualifying someone from seeking election as department chair be provided to the would-be candidate, and the the disqualification occur before the election date. This compromise addresses Administration’s concern for keeping personnel information confidential while maintaining integrity and transparency of department-chair election procedures and allowing supporters time to find a new candidate.

Faculty Offices: NFA’s original proposal addressed two fundamental points: bargaining unit members have the right to a functionally equipped office on the campus where they perform the greatest portion of their work; when space limitations apply, waiting lists for each campus based on office request dates will be used to re-allocate offices. Administration’s counter-proposal introduces an undefined concept, “appropriate functional space,” for providing faculty necessary resources while claiming more flexibility in managing facilities and equipment. NFA foresees problems using this slippery concept to structure where and how faculty work and to possibly force sharing of offices, and decided to address it in the next session (see below.)

Professional Enrichment: NFA’s counter-proposal restores NSHE Code references to section headers without the “shall be followed” phrasing Administration had previously rejected. The proposal's three sections cover Salary Advancement with degree attainment and continuing education credits, Professional Development as required to support annual evaluations, and Sabbatical Leave.

Program Directors: NFA’s counter-proposal raises PD compensation to 4 IUs per semester, to guarantee a course release regardless of academic discipline, and stipulates a B+ contract. Both provisions address problems reported to NFA with IUs being cut and promised contracts not being delivered. NFA argues that, despite Administration’s plans to revise compensation policies for the future, faculty need a stated minimum now because the  indeterminate process of revamping policy is not guaranteed to follow the projected timeline.

Salary: NFA’s counter-proposal aligns a guaranteed salary equity study with the two-year schedule set in NSHE Procedures & Guidelines and designates a minimum value for the internal equity funding pool to be distributed according to the analytical criteria established for the study.

Other Discussion: Components of Arbitration and Discipline & Termination were discussed  informally. Administration questioned NFA’s points on arbitration jurisdiction and providers, academic freedom protection against “insubordination” charges, and a “clean slate” provision to expunge minor infractions from personnel records with long-term good behavior.  NFA asserts that neutral third-party arbitration, clear definitions, and positive feedback for professional responsibility are essential working conditions for bargaining unit members.

NEGOTIATIONS, April 6, 2018,

Clear progress was made on a number of the smaller issues:
Admin announced their Tentative agreement to NFA’s Professional Enhancement proposal which features, among various elements, improvements to record-keeping for occupational credits to salary advancement and to communication with faculty regarding sabbatical applications and denials.  Agreement is also nearing on NFA’s proposal on Program Directors which stipulates a minimum release time of 3IUs or whatever is the equivalent of one course in that department.  Agreement seems close as well on NFA’s common sense proposal on Department chair elections, which proposes that any disqualification of candidates occurs prior to the election, so that new candidates can file.

Some discussion and possible progress occurred  on NFA’s Librarian proposal which governs movement back and forth between A and B+ contracts and 1 IU release for site managers.  Less clear was any movement on faculty offices. NFA’s proposal is that faculty be allowed to have offices on the campus which they mainly teach and if none available, a waiting list be established;  and that any sharing of offices occur only with both faculty members permission. Admin seemed attached their earlier idea of replacing offices with “functional workspaces” an idea which seems designed to allow them to assign shared offices at will.

As far as the big ticket item of pay equity was concerned, there was little evidence of movement. Admin reiterated their refusal to commit to any amount as a minimum – "Not one dollar".  This totally contradicts their other position regarding finances – that every last dollar in the budget is accounted for. If the latter is true, then how much have they committed to this year's salary study?

They also announced that the current year pay equity study which they’d previously announced for this semester would be pushed back into fall due to their need to find, screen and hire a consultant to perform the study. They also maintained that they would not do anything to increase transparency, because they felt that the 2013-4 study was transparent enough, given that each person got an individual letter briefly explaining the amount they received. NFAs position is that given state salaries are public information, spreadsheets should be released allowing anyone to see if everyone got their fair amount according to the criteria established.

The next meeting will be held on April 19.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Bargaining update #16

The NFA-CSN and CSN Administration teams met for bargaining sessions on Friday, February 23rd and Monday, March 12th. Little headway was made as CSN Administration aggressively pushed a hard line, stating that the College has no money for faculty. To the contrary, NFA’s analysis of NSHE’s third-party audited statements, conducted by an expert in public higher education accounting, says that CSN has money to fund NFA's proposals. NFA has also reported on a number of established ways Nevada public higher education institutions exert autonomy in the allocation of their resources.
Below are the statuses of various compensation-related proposals:

Contact Hours: NFA asks for an increase to the contact hour multiplier for Clinic/Lab/Studio and Clinical Supervision work. In the past Administration and Faculty Senate agreed that the rate for Clinic/Lab/Studio should be 1.0, and 1.0 is the rate at TMCC. Various other nearby institutions have a higher rate than CSN. However, CSN remains stuck at 0.75 despite a theoretical commitment to raising the rate.
Administration calls this a complicated issue, says TMCC is an outlier, and proposes that rather than address contact hours in the CBA, the matter be referred to a committee for study. NFA has already studied this matter, speaking to faculty and finding that the work is as hard as (or harder than) lecture work. A nonbinding study does not address the basic problem— it is already a policy position of CSN that the rate should be increased to 1.0. The problem is the Administrative willpower to fund an increase.

Overload Pay: NFA asks for an increase to the overload rate. We have asked for the rate to be raised to NSHE’s target rate from four years ago. Administration claims they can’t raise the rate unless funding is provided by the legislature. While NFA certainly supports efforts to get increased legislative funding, we have seen UNLV raise its part-time rate above even NSHE’s 2014 target rate independent of any action of the legislature. CSN’s failure to act has contributed to serious difficulties in staffing classes with instructors in various departments.

Equity Study: NFA has asked for a contractual guaranteed that a study be performed during the contract period. NSHE’s own policies mandating equity studies every two years were not follow at CSN in 2015, as required after the first study in 2013, and in 2017 Acting Chancellor Nichols attempted to prohibit the recently initiated study but was thwarted by NFA’s appeal to Regents and legislators. NFA has proposed that the study’s main criteria be comparison of years of experience and salary to NSHE’s published Community College Academic Salary Schedule. NFA also asks that resources be guaranteed to be devoted to making salary adjustments on the basis of the study results. After all, what use is a study if it does not result in actual salary adjustments?
Administration has repeatedly mischaracterized our proposal that resources be guaranteed for adjustments as establishing a maximum limit for adjustments. Our proposal is clearly for a minimum, and puts no upper limit on the amount that could be distributed. NFA would never seek to limit faculty’s ability to get wage increases.
Administration has proposed that a study be done, but has not agreed to guarantee any amount of resources, nor to make the primary criteria comparison of years of experience and salary to the NSHE Community College Academic Salary Schedule. NFA’s position is that a defined commitment of resources is needed to preclude the possibility of the study being a moot point, and that following the Salary Schedule evenly without setting artificial years of service thresholds will make the study truly address inequities rather than even possibly aggravating them.

Summer Pay: Bargaining continues on the summer pay rate. However, Administration has not responded to NFA’s information request regarding past summer budget expenditures, stalling further progress toward resolution.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Status of various economic items

Equity studies-- In the fall, NFA successfully worked to get the acting Chancellor's memo barring internally funded equity adjustments lifted, by contacting legislators whose bill was misinterpreted by the memo. Administration has indicated it will likely begin disbursing pay equity raises by the end of this semester. NFA proposes equity studies be done with a guaranteed minimum amount of funding and by comparing faculty members' salaries to the salary schedule taking into account years of experience. Compression at the top end is a problem. Approximately 80% of faculty fall below their salary schedule range medians. Equity study was not performed in 2015 even though it was mandated by NSHE Code.

Administration has not agreed to guarantee any amount of money be put into these studies nor that the salary schedule be taken into account.

Summer pay-- NFA proposed raising pro-rata pay rate from .01875 to .025 multiplier for summer teaching. The current rate represents a steep discount on true pro-rata pay, the excess money generated in summer being used to pay for other aspects of the College.

Administration responded by offering to increase to .02. Administration states that this is a 7% raise that equates to $200,000 a year in total dollar amount plus benefits. NFA countered by proposing a phased-in increase to .0225 over three years. Administration refused and came back again with essentially their original counter.

Overload pay-- NFA proposes raising the overload pay from $825 an IU to $1017 an IU. $1017 is the target rate set for community colleges by NSHE in 2014. Various other NSHE institutions pay more.

Administration has not countered on Overload Pay.

Contact hours-- NFA proposes the contact hours multiplier by raised to 1.0 for Lab/Clinic/Studio teaching, phased-in over three years. At Truckee Meadows Community College in northern Nevada, rates are based on a 1.0 equivalency. At CSN, many faculty have indicated that their lab teaching hours are as much work if not more than their lecture hours.

Administration has not countered on Contact Hours.

Benefits-- NFA proposes the creation of a Sick Leave Bank, as NSHE classifieds have as well as various CSN strategic comparator institutions. NFA proposes that accumulated sick days be payable upon severance of employment according to a formula, as with NSHE classifieds and is common at community colleges. NFA proposes three weeks paid parental leave as part of FMLA before usage of sick days, paid parental leave being known at other community colleges and being a rising trend nation-wide.

Administration has not countered on any of these Benefits items.

Bargaining update #15

The NFA-CSN and CSN Administration teams have met for three bargaining sessions so far this semester, one on each campus. Various items were discussed, however no tentative agreements were reached. For a list of NFA proposals and their statuses, click here. For a run-down of the status of various compensation items, click here.

Summer: Administration's first counter on Summer, before the break, took much of NFA's language on assignment, and offered an increase of the pro-rate multiplier from .01875 to .02. If summer classes were truly paid pro-rate the multiplier would be .02875 per NFA's calculation; we had asked for .025 in our first proposal.

NFA responded to Administration's Summer counter by proposing that further increases over .02 be phased-in in subsequent summers over the course of the contract, ending at a .0225 multiplier in the final summer. We viewed both the movement of our overall final goal as well as changing to a phase-in structure as very reasonable movement toward a compromise on our part.

However, Administration countered back with essentially their original counter. They stated that increasing from .01875 to .02 equates to an additional $200,000 a year plus benefits, and that is the maximum increase summer budget resources permit. Undoubtedly, this will be the subject of future discussion.

Grievance, Discipline, and Arbitration: NFA proposed a package deal to in an attempt to reach a compromise on these issues. From the 2nd bargaining session over a year ago on, NFA has indicated the importance to us of Arbitration-- that a neutral third party be the ultimate adjudicator of disputes regarding whether the CBA has been followed. Our package deal proposal shows our good faith in attempting to resolve this issue. So far, Administration has not formally responded but has provided some feedback.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Status of proposals 2/10/2018

Proposal topic
NSHE recognizes NFA as bargaining agent for CSN faculty.
Saving Clause
If part of the contract is legally invalidated, that does not invalidate the whole contract.
Distribution of the Agreement
Administration agrees to post the CBA on the CSN website and to inform new hires about the CBA.
Overload Requests
A request to work zero up to and including four IUs shall be granted. From above four up to and including six overload IUs may be granted by the Department Chair with the Dean's approval.
Administration agrees to provide a safe and clean working environment; faculty can raise safety concerns, 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.
Dues Deduction
NSHE agrees to continue current dues deduction practice for NFA; provide monthly deduction reports and inform NFA of cancellations.
MFA as Grade 5
Faculty members with MFA degrees meeting certain quality-control criteria will be placed in Grade 5 for salary purposes.
Market Hires
Market Hires employed for five or more years will be able to apply for tenure following normal procedures.
Relocation Expense
Allocates $25,000/year to reimburse new hires from out of town for moving expenses.
Emeritus Status
Incorporate current Emeritus Status policy into the CBA.
Work out of Title
Faculty member has the right to decline without prejudice work outside of normal work duties or hours. Compensation for additional work should be agreed at the time of acceptance. Faculty not to be made to perform menial tasks.
Several aspects: 1) specify procedures and amount of money to be distributed via equity review processes; 2) increase overload pay; 3) salary placement criteria should be published, accessible, and equitable.
A standard Arbitration article, to serve as the last step in a dispute as to whether the CBA has been properly followed. NFA proposes a neutral third-party be the final adjudicator of disputes that reach this stage.
Grievance Procedure
A standard Grievance Procedure for resolving disputes as to whether the CBA has been properly followed.
Summer Teaching
Institute a transparent and equitable system for assigning summer classes; increase summer pay.
Create a sick leave bank to protect faculty in case extended medical leave is needed; allow long-term faculty's sick days to be cashed out according to a formula upon severance of employment; establish three weeks of paid parental leave in addition to FMLA; various other aspects.
Contact Hours
Increase the IU value multiplier for Clinic/Lab/Studio and Clinic Supervision.
Affirm and make contractually binding CSN's commitment to non-discrimination.
Specifies the hiring process. Allow faculty committee to mark candidates as “do not hire;” give faculty committee equal weight to second committee in final hiring decision; reimburse meal expenses; require more than one reference check.
Discipline and Termination
Establish a due process procedure for discipline of employees: lesser disciplinary sanctions to be adjudicated by a faculty committee, terminations to be adjudicated at the last step by a neutral third-party arbitrator.
Financial Exigency
Modifies the process specified in NSHE Code for declaring and acting on a state of financial emergency to lay off faculty, to provide for additional faculty voice and Chancellor's review.
Contract Types
NFA's counter to Administration's proposal on “Faculty Engagement.” Specifies the work content of A, B, and B+ contracts as per current policy, as well as pay-rate changes for moving between them.
Reinstate compensation of 1 IU for Site Coordinators; establish that librarian always has the right to work on a contract of the type he/she was hired on; librarians to be academic faculty falling under the purview of Academic Affairs.
Protect counselor tenure and status as academic faculty; counselors to remain assigned to the academic schools; appropriate safety assurances to be made; single, functional recording mechanism for student contacts.
Program Directors
Specify duties and authority of Program Directors; establish floor for IU compensation of Program Directors, as well as a stipend.
Department Chairs
Specify duties, authority, compensation of Department Chairs, all as per current policy. Change election procedure so that candidates cannot be disqualified after votes are cast.
Professional Development
Human Resources to keep a record of faculty member's work toward salary advancement; other aspects regarding administrative support for professional development, including sabbatical leave.
Academic Freedom
Incorporate current Academic Freedom policy into the CBA, with a standard Academic Responsibility clause.
Faculty Offices
All faculty to have the right to a functional office on the campus on which they do the majority of their teaching.
Faculty Info Handbook
Info Handbook to be updated yearly; NFA to be consulted as part of the update process.
E-Hires to be offered service work; E-Hires performing service work or not properly offered service work eligible to apply time worked to tenure clock if later hired in a tenure-track position.
Shared Governance
Make Faculty Senate policies binding while in effect; require written notice of President rescinding policy to be provided to all Faculty Senators; NFA and Administration to consult on CB-related matters at request of either party; provide office space and release IUs to NFA
Establish protections against outsourcing faculty; establish CBA duration as well as aspects of modification and re-negotiation of the CBA.
Immigration Status
Faculty not to be required to report the immigration status of members of the CSN community nor deny students' services based on immigration status.
Policies and Practices
A preamble describing the role of the CBA and its relationship to existing NSHE Code, policies, and practices.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Bargaining update #14

In December, two collective bargaining sessions were held: 8 Dec and 18 Dec, both at the West Charleston campus.

At the first meeting, tentative agreements were reached on two contract provisions: “MFA to Salary Grade 5” and “Relocation Expenses for New Hires.” No additional tentative agreements emerged from the second meeting.

The following contract proposals were discussed during the December meetings. Dates in parentheses identify the meeting(s) at which the topic was discussed. In this summary, topics are presented in alphabetical order.

Arbitration (8 Dec. and 18 Dec.)
On 8 Dec., NFA reported that an AAUP legal expert has reviewed ADMIN’s counter-proposal on Arbitration. NFA shared that consultant’s concerns with ADMIN’s text. While ADMIN seeks to make arbitration dependent upon “mutual agreement” of both parties and to limit arbitration to “contract adherence, no case facts,” NFA takes AAUP’s recommendation to challenge these provisions, for these reasons. Mutual agreement gives parties veto powers over the other’s interests in seeking third-party scrutiny. Both parties have interests in bringing facts to arbitration; interpretation and application of the CBA includes review of facts. Another sticking point for NFA involves ADMIN’s prohibiting “appeal of a decision made in accordance with the CBA.” ADMIN explained this language articulates that disciplinary determinations should not be appealed; ADMIN is “not interested in arbitration” that challenges factual decisions made at the college.

On 18 Dec., Arbitration was again discussed as NFA continued to probe ADMIN’s resistance to this issue. ADMIN expressed skepticism of arbitrators’ knowledge and expertise in dealing with higher education conflicts. ADMIN offered willingness to “think outside the box”; maybe selecting arbitrators from “past college presidents” would enable ADMIN to look more favorably on this proposal. NFA questioned whether higher education is “a black box” that people outside it cannot understand; in fact, NFA noted, arbitrators come from all professions, including education, and are well trained and certified for their profession in arbitration.

E-Hire for Tenure (18 Dec.)
ADMIN presented a counter-proposal to NFA’s 26 Oct. counter-proposal.

Grievance Procedures (8 Dec.)
NFA presented its counter-proposal to ADMIN’s last counter on Grievance Procedures. NFA proposes Step 1 (Informal meeting) “may” be skipped if a grievant feels intimidated by the immediate supervisor involved (dept head/director). When ADMIN asserted that creating communication at the lowest level possible is preferable, NFA agreed in theory but explained that “may” is not mandating avoidance, only protecting bargaining unit members from being bullied by contentious supervisors. NFA inserts into Step 3 the Vice President of Student Services to clarify chain of command for Counselors; NFA adds into Step 4 that grievances not represented by NFA cannot be resolved “inconsistent with the terms of this Agreement.” NFA adds in Step 4(f) a provision for grievances alleging discrimination or discriminatory harassment because institutional procedures provide a longer timeline (365 days) than state (NERC, 300 days) or federal (EEOC, 180 days) laws do for addressing such issues.

Program Directors (8 Dec. and 18 Dec.)
On 8 Dec., NFA requested to amend its 6 Nov. 2017 counter-proposal, increasing Program Director credits from 3 to 4 in light of survey research recently completed on Program Director IU’s distributed across all departments. NFA has additional changes to propose after receiving ADMIN’s next counter-proposal.

On 18 Dec., in the context of discussing ADMIN’s “Summer Teaching” counter-proposal, NFA raised questions about language making Department Chairs solely responsible for preparing summer teaching schedules. NFA asked if ADMIN’s language was rewriting Program Directors’ job descriptions because, in many departments, Program Directors have been tasked with summer scheduling. ADMIN explained that Department Chairs, per organization chart, bear final (sign-off) responsibility for scheduling and that, per ADMIN’s resistance to including job descriptions in the contract, there was no intent to limit Program Director duties.

Summer Teaching (18 Dec.)
ADMIN presented a counter-proposal to NFA’s “Summer Teaching” proposal. Although ADMIN reduces NFA’s “$ per IU” and pro-rata asks, this counter offers a 15% raise and a 7% raise, respectively.

Work out of Title (8 Dec. and 18 Dec.)
At the first meeting, ADMIN presented its “markup” of NFA’s latest “Work out of Title” counter. Admin deletes “within their regular work hours” as inconsistent with the self-scheduling character of faculty work and replaces “assign” (again) for “ask” in describing management of bargaining unit members’ duties. ADMIN’s discussion point that “faculty can still say ‘no’” led to NFA’s question if “assign” would allow supervisors to discipline those who refuse or downgrade their next performance evaluation; ADMIN explained that “may decline” protects bargaining unit members from such adverse repercussions. NFA asked if adding “time-sensitive” to the wording “perform substantial tasks” would clarify that supervisory requests for last-minute, time-consuming projects are included in this provision; ADMIN asserted that “substantial” could cover that. NFA received ADMIN’s hand-edited text as an official counter-proposal.

On 18 Dec., NFA resubmitted a hand-edited counter-proposal that accepts ADMIN’s 8 Dec. text changes and inserts “without prejudice” to the “bargaining unit member may decline” sentence. NFA explained that the added language preserves the verbal claim ADMIN made previously about refusals not being subject to punishment or retribution. ADMIN received NFA’s “markup” as an official counter.

Additional Discussion: Salary and Scheduling (8 Dec. and 18 Dec.)
On Dec. 8, ADMIN updated NFA on progress made by CSN and the NSHE Chancellor to study faculty salaries. CSN’s in-house salary equity study committee has been formed and will soon hold its first meeting. The Chancellor’s NSHE salary study committee has been formed; this committee, not CSN’s, will consider external comparators. CSN’s internal committee will recommend equity criteria and discuss whether an outside consultant should be hired to conduct the study. ADMIN could not readily report the cost of hiring the consultant who performed that last salary equity study in 2013. ADMIN asserted that any further discussion of salary increases needs to work within the parameters of CSN’s budget request for 2019-2021, already submitted to the Chancellor. Some of NFA’s contract requests have been included in that proposed budget.

On 8 Dec., ADMIN expressed interest in presenting having a final contract to the June Regents meeting. This goal would require having all provisions settled by the end of February so that final draft could be printed in March for voting before May 1. On 18 Dec., ADMIN proposed a schedule of future weeks when meetings could occur; NFA and ADMIN set a tentative schedule for the next three meetings after the holidays: 1/11, 9 am, NLV; 1/26, 11 am, WC; 2/9, 10 am, HEN.

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.