Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bargaining update #8

The NFA-CSN and CSN Administration teams met for a bargaining session Friday, April 7th on West Charleston campus. At the session, the NFA team brought proposals on Program Directors and Professional Enrichment Programs, as well as counters on Salary, Market Hires, and Financial Exigency. CSN Administration countered on Safety.

NFA-CSN counter on Salary:

The NFA-CSN team held closely to the original NFA-CSN proposal, adopting an element of CSN Administration's language regarding legislative COLA and Merit, and making various changes to clarify the proposal based on the discussions with the Administration. The reason NFA-CSN made little movement, was because the team did not see CSN Administration's proposal as offering much movement from the baseline of what was required to happen anyway based on NSHE code. In particular, CSN Administration was not willing to commit any resources in their Salary proposal.

Members of the NFA-CSN team expressed themselves on the Salary issue. Theo Byrns spoke on the importance of valuing faculty and the alienation that comes with feeling not properly valued. Glynda White brought up NFA-CSN's research on college finances and faculty salaries, the latter showing that over three quarters of CSN faculty salaries fall below the median of their grade range on NSHE's scale. Erik Proctor gave a perspective from the Counselors on seemingly constantly increasing job duties not being matched by salary increases. Aminul Km recounted his story of medical expenses, and stressed the importance of salary to recruitment and retention.

Salary continues to be an important concern to the NFA-CSN team. CSN faculty salaries compare unfavorably to TMCC salaries, both in terms of the median, and as CSN Administration team member Dean John Adlish pointed out, the top end. Still worse is the comparison to the Community College Academic Salary Schedule scale set out in Chapter 3 of NSHE's Procedures and Guidelines Manual. The history of furloughs, base reduction, non-funded Merit, and COLAs below inflation has put us in an unfortunate position, and we need base salary increases to begin to climb back.

NFA-CSN counter on Market Hires:

NFA's second Market Hire proposal contained only minor changes from Administration's Market Hire counter. These were to formalize issues that the parties appeared to be in agreement on in prior table discussion-- namely, that a Market Hire successfully receiving tenure appointment would in no case have his/her salary reduced, and that Market Hires should be eligible for salary increases that other faculty get, such as Merit. The NFA-CSN team again applauded Administration's positive approach to the subject.

NFA-CSN counter on Financial Exigency:

As Administration had made a change to their proposal incorporating a part of NFA-CSN's proposal (that the financial exigency committee shall provide its proposed plan to NFA and the Faculty Senate), the NFA-CSN team took some of Administration's language (regarding committee size and composition) and incorporated it into NFA's 3rd proposal on Financial Exigency.

NFA-CSN proposal on Program Directors:

The NFA-CSN proposal lays out the role, responsibilities, and authority of Program Directors. It establishes evaluation procedure, and procedures by which Program Directors may be removed or vacant positions filled. It also establishes that a minimum level of compensation for a Program Director shall be 3 IUs per semester (including Summer if the Program Director is on an “A” contract), plus a stipend.

The NFA proposal was presented by John Aliano, himself a Program Director. He gave examples of how hard Program Directors work, and their value to the college. Program Director Jonathan Boarini also made a supportive comment along the same lines.

We believe that CSN has every interest in making sure these faculty, who contribute substantial work and leadership, have a standard and transparent position description and set of governing rules, and receive appropriate compensation for their work.

NFA-CSN proposal on Professional Enrichment Programs:

The NFA-CSN proposal contained several elements. Some of the points contained--

1) Regarding salary advancement through completion of advanced degrees and/or occupationally related course work: to clarify the process, and to make sure that records of work toward advancement are maintained by HR and available to the faculty member seeking advancement.

2) Regarding professional development: that Administration shall maintain sufficient funds to reimburse approved travel, and shall financially support faculty professional development activity.

3) Regarding sabbatical leave: provisions for written explanation should sabbatical leave be denied to a faculty member or if the VPAA's sabbatical approval recommendations deviate from those of the Faculty Senate Sabbatical Leave Committee.

CSN Administration counter on Safety:

CSN Administration took the proposed changes from NFA's 3rd Safety proposal and modified them. The NFA-CSN team finds the modifications reasonable, and the negotiation overall on this topic reasonable as well. That is not to say that NFA-CSN has achieved everything it wanted on this subject, but that at least Administration has listened to faculty concerns and offered constructive proposals regarding some of them.

State Sen. Tick Segerblom supports CSN faculty bargaining with letter to the Regents

Monday, March 27, 2017

Bargaining update #7

The NFA-CSN and CSN Administration teams met for a bargaining session Friday, March 24th in Henderson. At the session, the NFA team brought proposals on Work out of Title, Overload Requests, Immigration Status, and Contact Hours, as well as a counter on Safety. CSN Administration countered on Salary, Market Hires, and Discipline and Termination.

CSN Administration's Salary counter:

The NFA-CSN team is disappointed in Administration's Salary counter, which does not guarantee any money for funding base salary adjustments. The NFA-CSN team sees this as an offer of a zero percent increase. The NFA-CSN team was also disappointed that Administration offered no increase to overload pay, and that Administration ignored all of NFA-CSN's proposal on initial salary placement.

Here is a comparison of some key points in the two Salary proposals:

NFA-CSN: base salary adjustment via three equity studies, one in each year of a proposed three year contract.
CSN Administration: one equity study.

NFA-CSN: a guaranteed pool of money to be distributed based on the results of these studies, amounting to 2.5% in contract year one, 3.0% in contract year two, and 4.0% in contract year three.
CSN Administration: no guaranteed pool of money.

NFA-CSN: the studies would be conducted by a group composed of two representatives each from NFA and Administration, with the Faculty Senate Chair holding a tie-breaking vote.
CSN Administration: two representatives each from NFA and Administration. CSN President has sole authority to approve or deny results of the study.

NFA-CSN: equity broadly construed-- equity vis a vis other faculty at the institution (internal equity), vis a vis other institutions (external equity), and vis a vis the published NSHE salary scale (equitable placement on salary scale).
CSN Administration: equity narrowly construed-- internal equity only, no mention of the NSHE salary scale or salaries at peer institutions.

NFA-CSN: salary adjustments from the studies to be retroactive to the beginning of each contract year.
CSN Administration: no binding timeline for equity study (only a “target date for completion”); adjustments (if there are any) not retroactive.

NFA-CSN: increase of the overload pay rate to the NSHE-recommended level of $1017 per IU.
CSN Administration: no increase to overload pay.

NFA-CSN: equitable system for initial salary placement which shall be published; faculty to be able to request a written explanation of their initial salary placement.
CSN Administration: nothing regarding initial salary placement.

From the NFA perspective, what the Administration has proposed is basically nothing. Their proposal is that an equity study should be conducted with no guaranteed money attached nor any binding timeline with all results ultimately at the sole discretion of the President. To us, that is like putting fingers in the ears and humming, trying to ignore away the fact that there is a powerful and justified desire among the faculty for salary increases, to the extent that CSN is now unionized and we are at the bargaining table to discuss it.

Faculty have made their feelings regarding compensation abundantly clear, and NFA-CSN has consistently indicated the importance of salary at the bargaining table. It seems that Administration still does not understand.

CSN Administration's Market Hires counter:

While Administration's Salary counter was disappointing, the NFA-CSN team was largely pleased with Administration's Market Hire counter.

The conditions for Market Hires at CSN have not matched the idea of the Market Hire status – tenure-track foregone in exchange for additional salary as merited by marketable skills – in that Market Hire average salary is substantially below tenure-track average salary.

To remedy this, NFA-CSN proposed a tenuring process for Market Hires, and in their counter CSN Administration agreed in principle to create such a process. They will be allowed to start as Market Hires and then later apply for tenure; those who are long-time Market Hire employees will be allowed to choose if and when they want to apply for tenure. This will be a huge stride for these valuable, hard-working faculty, who as a group bring important technical skills to the college.

NFA-CSN will counter Administration's proposal in order to hash out some details, but it seems that there is substantial agreement on the main idea. NFA-CSN is pleased that Administration has considered the situation of the Market Hires and decided to take a positive approach.

CSN Administration's Discipline and Termination counter:

The Administration counter on Discipline and Termination was based on but contained various changes to the NFA proposal.

There is certainly room for discussion of various aspects of the proposal, but one point NFA categorically disagrees with is Administration's intention to cut out any possibility of a decision on a discipline case being made by a neutral third party, and instead place all authority in the hands of the CSN President.

In disciplinary matters, judgment by a neutral third party is key for fairness, and the potential for such judgment as the final step of a disciplinary process acts as a check on bad behavior at lower steps of the process. Faculty deserve this basic fairness, and it will improve the work environment when it comes to perceptions of fairness in discipline.

As a note, Administration criticized NFA-CSN's proposal, saying that we proposed “the faculty member chooses all of the hearing panel members” in our proposed disciplinary committee process. We do not think a plain language reading of our proposal, which states Within 14 calendar days an ad hoc Discipline Oversight committee shall be convened by the Faculty Senate Chair and/or the Ombudsman by randomly selecting seven faculty members from the campus of the bargaining unit member’s choosing” supports the Administration's claim that we have proposed the faculty member choose their own disciplinary committee. We are saying the faculty member chooses the campus from which faculty are randomly selected. To be clear, we are not asking that faculty be allowed to hand-craft their own discipline committee, and we think it is quite a stretch to read into our proposal otherwise.

NFA-CSN proposal on Contact Hours: The NFA-CSN proposal is to increase the contact hours IU multiplier for Laboratory and Studio work (Clinic/Lab/Studio on the workload form) from .75 to 1.0 over the course of the contract, and the Coordination/Supervision of Health Sciences Clinical Courses multiplier (Clinic Supervision on the workload form) from .40 to .50 over the course of the contract.

The NFA-CSN team made arguments at the table as to how lab teaching can be as or more difficult than lecture teaching. Professor Steve Soltz of Hospitality Management gave examples from his own work, as did others. NFA-CSN also noted that the CSN multipliers are below those at TMCC. Further, the CSN workload policy states increasing the multiplier for Lab work to 1.0 as a future goal. We would like to realize that goal through the CBA.

NFA-CSN proposal on Work out of Title: The NFA-CSN proposal is to adopt job descriptions into the contract to define what is work in or out of title. Work that is out of title – meaning activities not within the job description – can be assigned to faculty, but if assigned for more than one day a semester, requires additional compensation.

NFA sees this as a moderate and modest proposal. It aims to discourage the habitual assignment of work out of title, thereby helping to ensure that job descriptions have meaning and that professional employees are treated professionally. At the same time, it does not proscribe work out of title, leaving flexibility especially in the case of rare or one-off circumstances.

NFA-CSN proposal on Overload Requests: The NFA-CSN proposal is for 0-4 overload IU requests to be granted automatically, above 4 through 6 overload IU requests to be granted at the discretion of the Department Chair or Program Director, and in the event of unexpected shortages within a department, above 6 through 9 IU overload requests to be possibly granted. The proposal is clear, that the latter should not occur as a regular event – saying that it can occur at most one semester every two years.

NFA-CSN proposal on Immigration Status: In light of recent political and social developments nation-wide, as well as controversies here in Nevada, NFA-CSN proposed that bargaining unit faculty should not be compelled to report any member of the CSN community's immigration status, nor to deny a student services based on the student's immigration status.

NFA-CSN counter-proposal on Safety: While using their own language, CSN Administration's latest proposal took account of various NFA concerns on Safety. Accordingly, NFA-CSN offered a counter that incorporated CSN Administration's language with some changes.

State Sen. Yvanna Cancela supports NFA-CSN bargaining with Open Letter to the Regents

"It is imperative that NSHE and CSN Administration respect the voice of faculty expressed through the faculty union, Nevada Faculty Alliance." - State Sen. Yvanna Cancela

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Bargaining update #6

The NFA-CSN and CSN Administration teams met for a bargaining session on Friday, March 10th. At the session, NFA-CSN brought proposals on Benefits, and on Discipline and Termination, as well as a counter-proposal on Administration's Faculty Engagement and Participation proposal. The CSN Administration team brought counter-proposals on Safety and Financial Exigency, accepted NFA's counter-proposal on Distribution of the Agreement, and asked questions about NFA's Salary and Market Hire proposals, which they continue to review.

Benefits: The NFA-CSN proposal was for benefits to continue as provided by NSHE code, with changes as described in the contract. These include:

* Retirement: allow faculty to opt in to Social Security; allow faculty to apply unused sick and/or annual leave to advance retirement, pay out unused sick/annual leave upon retirement as a lump sum.

* Parental leave: establish five weeks of paid leave.

* Sick leave bank: create a sick leave bank allowing faculty to donate earned sick days for use by fellow faculty facing health crises.

* Online teaching as a medical accommodation: give qualified faculty members who are considering medical leave the opportunity to teach all online classes for up to two semesters.

* Health care: guarantee that faculty members' health care premiums will not increase during the life of the contract by having the employer cover any increase.

The proposal also calls for CSN to establish an administrative position of “Benefits Advisor” to assist faculty, and for the creation of a joint NFA-CSN/CSN Administration committee to lobby for improvements to faculty health insurance.

These items come from numerous conversations with faculty, and NFA believes can all be agreed as-is by Administration. They are known at many other institutions of higher education.

Discipline and Termination: The NFA-CSN proposal was to establish a process of progressive discipline for faculty members. Progressive discipline means that in general, sanctions proceed from lesser to greater (except in the case of grievous misconduct), with the intention that discipline should be corrective rather than punitive.

The NFA-CSN proposal also included that the method for an accused faculty member to contest charges, should be either the filing of a grievance, or judgment by a panel of faculty peers, the choice being left to the discretion of the accused faculty member. Filing a grievance is the usual way for a unionized employee to contest discipline. Judgment by a panel of peers is a common practice, existing for example at Nevada State College, and reflects the status of faculty as highly educated professionals exercising self-government. We believe that both of these options provide appropriate ways to resolve a discipline dispute through the involvement of neutral third parties.

Faculty Contracts (NFA-CSN counter-proposal to CSN Administration's “Faculty Engagement and Participation” proposal): CSN Administration's first proposal had two elements which the NFA-CSN team found agreeable: that the average hours expectation for a work-week should be 35, and that the days worked per year for a B contract should be 176 to 180. Both of these are status quo. The Administration proposal did not account for “A” and “B+” contracts, so the NFA counter-proposal included those categories.

The NFA proposal also specified minimum compensation changes associated with moving from a “B” to “B+” or “A” contract, based on simple multiplication regarding days worked. For example, a “B” contract is 176-180 days, and a “B+” contract adds 22 days, which is about 12.5% more, so pay should increase by at least 12.5%.

NFA-CSN did not accept CSN Administration's proposals regarding mandatory meetings and requirement for faculty to fill out additional scheduling documentation. The feedback from faculty was overwhelmingly negative on these items. Many made the points that the faculty evaluation already captures scheduling information, and that meetings and events may conflict with instructional duties.

Discussion of Salary and Market Hire proposals: CSN Administration asked some questions to clarify NFA-CSN's intent in various aspects of the Salary and Market Hire proposals made in the previous session. NFA-CSN sees these as important proposals and explained appropriately.

The Market Hire proposal is key to improving the conditions of this approximately forty-strong segment of the faculty. Market Hires in concept are supposed to be paid more due to their marketable skills and in exchange for foregoing the tenure-track, but in actuality are paid less and nonetheless do not have the job security of a tenure-track position, because they do not receive raises that other faculty may get. Many Market Hires are in technical subjects and have valuable skills the College can ill afford to lose, particularly with the present emphasis on CTE, and yet the turnover rate is substantial for understandable reasons. The NFA-CSN proposal would change this scenario by allowing Market Hires a route to tenure and making them eligible for raises that other categories of faculty receive.

Regarding Salary, the NFA-CSN team expressed amazement at the $80 million dollars, $7 million of it coming from reserves and the rest being funded by student fee increases, that CSN Administration is spending on construction of new student union buildings. The total cost of all NFA-CSN proposals combined, including the Salary proposal, is a small fraction of this amount.

Increases to base salary via equity adjustments are key to keeping faculty compensation competitive, and in line with the scales adopted by NSHE (set out in the Procedures and Guidelines Manual). NFA-CSN's proposal of 9.5% total in raises spread over a three year contract, is an important step to realizing this goal, and thereby promoting faculty recruitment, retention, and good morale. We believe this is fiscally do-able, and seeing the amount of money just splashed out on new buildings, as well as the contemplated spending associated with a new campus and the multi-campus district model, strongly underscores this point.

CSN Administration counter proposals: Administration accepted NFA-CSN's counter on Distribution of the Agreement, and brought counters on Safety and Financial Exigency. As these were presented at the end of the session, there was not time to discuss them at the table. The NFA-CSN team is currently studying the Administration's counter-proposals.

Response to CSN Administration's statement “Why Hasn't CSN Accepted NFA-CSN's Proposal Dealing With Discrimination?”

CSN Administration posted on their webpage a statement on their refusal to agree to proposed NFA-CSN language regarding non-discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, age, etc. They also provided print-outs of this statement to the NFA-CSN bargaining team.

In the statement, CSN Administration expresses that it has “consistently demonstrated its commitment to providing an environment that is free from any form of discrimination,” but then proceeds to the rather bizarre conclusion that this means they should not accept NFA-CSN's non-discrimination language.

NFA-CSN's proposal of a non-discrimination clause is nothing out of the ordinary: non-discrimination clauses are common in academic collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) across the country. In terms of the text, what NFA-CSN has proposed is similar to language accepted by other administrations. For example, the following was agreed to by the University of Oregon administration, and is part of their CBA:

The University affirms its dedication to the principles of equal opportunity and freedom from unlawful discrimination; as such, the University will not discriminate on account of any of the protected categories under current federal, state, or local law, including the following: race, creed, color, sex, religion, national origin, ancestry, marital status, domestic partnership status, familial status, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or membership or non-membership in or activity on behalf of or in opposition to the Union. Unlawful discrimination includes unlawful sexual harassment.”

Why should CSN be any different than University of Oregon or any of the other myriad higher education institutions that have agreed to non-discrimination CBA language? We have a diverse student body, a diverse faculty, and are located in a diverse city. CSN should lead the way, not lag behind.

In recent years, CSN Administration has issued various statements on non-discrimination and diversity. These include assertions such as that

* CSN's objective is to “create a climate free of sexual harassment and all forms of discrimination” (“Diversity in Faculty Promotion and Tenure”).

* “CSN is committed to reviewing all aspects of CSN programs, activities, services and employment, including recruitment, selection, retention and promotion to identify and eliminate barriers in order to prevent discrimination on the basis of the listed protected characteristics” (“Non-Discrimination Statement”).

* “The College of Southern Nevada (CSN) is committed to providing a place of work and learning free of discrimination on the basis of a person's age, disability, whether actual or perceived by others (including service-connected disabilities), gender (including pregnancy related condition), military status or military obligations, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information, national origin, race, or religion. Where discrimination is found to have occurred, CSN will act to stop the discrimination, to prevent its recurrence, to remedy its effects, and to discipline those responsible” (“Statement of Nondiscrimination”).

So what we are proposing, is essentially for CSN to put its own words into the CBA, a legally binding document. If their commitment to these principles is genuine, why not? What do they have to fear?

In their statement on their refusal to agree, CSN Administration gives two main reasons.

The first is that there is existing law and policy on non-discrimination. Administration then counter-poses existing law and procedures to NFA's proposal. But NFA's proposal will not invalidate existing law and procedures. NFA's proposal will provide an additional enforcement mechanism. So, for example – and we do not necessarily suggest that this is likely to occur at CSN – if a faculty complaint were to be unjustly quashed or ignored, the faculty member, despite having exhausted existing recourse, would have another mechanism by which to pursue his/her complaint. Having non-discrimination language in the CBA can only strengthen non-discrimination at CSN.

The second is that this kind of non-discrimination is in Administration's view not a mandatory subject of bargaining. Whether this kind of non-discrimination impacts mandatory subject “p. Safety of the employee” is open to argument. But regardless of whether it is mandatory, it is certainly not prohibited, so at the least it is permissive. That is to say, at the minimum Administration is not compelled to, but may negotiate on this subject if it chooses. So again we ask, why not?

That there is existing policy and procedure on non-discrimination is no different than in any of the other higher education institutions where administrations accepted non-discrimination CBA language.

In their statement, CSN Administration concludes that “a 3rd party arbitrator will hear and decide complaints under the NFA proposal.” They are correct that this is a possible outcome of our proposal in the case that a non-discrimination grievance could not be resolved at a lower level. We say, “yes, we want that!” We believe that in case of an irreconcilable difference on whether discrimination has occurred/is occurring, judgment by a legally proficient neutral third party is best.

tl/dr: NFA wants a non-discrimination clause to strengthen enforcement possibilities on issues where discrimination is alleged, and it's normal to have such a clause in an academic CBA. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bargaining update #5

The NFA-CSN and CSN Administration teams met for the eighth bargaining session, Friday 2/24.

At the session, the NFA-CSN team introduced three new proposals:

Market Hires: The NFA-CSN proposal is to create a process by which Market Hires who have been repeatedly renewed and received an “excellent” evaluation can be converted to tenured status after five years of service. The proposal also specifies that Market Hires shall be eligible for all raises that tenure-track faculty may receive.

This proposal comes from many conversations with CSN's approximately forty Market Hires, and was presented by Bargaining Team member John Aliano, himself a Market Hire. The presentation went over the vital role and valuable contributions of CSN Market Hires, which contrasts with their lack of job security and their lesser pay resulting from lack of access to raises that tenure-track faculty receive, such as merit. John discussed the high attrition and negative effect on morale among the Market Hires resulting from these conditions.

The NFA-CSN team sees our Market Hire proposal as the best, fairest way to improve the situation of the Market Hires, and thereby promote the retention and recruitment of these invaluable faculty.

Librarians: The NFA-CSN proposal includes various elements: affirmation that Librarians are academic faculty who shall fall under the purview of Academic Affairs; a one IU per semester compensation for site coordinator duties; and specifications on contract types and the Director of Library services position.

The NFA-CSN proposal was presented by Librarians and Bargaining Team members Ted Chodock and Caprice Roberson, and additional information was provided by 25-year CSN Library veteran Clarissa Erwin. They stressed the good work and results of CSN Librarians, and that the items proposed were all either affirmation of the status quo, past practice at CSN, or national standard practice.

Salary: Through countless meetings, one-on-one conversations, and surveys, NFA-CSN has seen the importance of compensation issues to bargaining unit faculty. From the opening statement on, the NFA-CSN bargaining team has consistently indicated the importance of compensation in the negotiations. Now that the Governor's budget has been announced, and it is clear that rather than any cuts the NSHE budget is slated for a robust increase of over ten percent, the NFA-CSN team chose this bargaining session to put our Salary proposal on the table. Salary is not the only NFA-CSN proposal with implications for faculty compensation, but it is a huge piece of the puzzle.

The CSN-NFA proposal is for a three year contract with equity reviews to be performed each year of the contract, to distribute 2.5%, 3.0%, and 4.0% of the total salary pool as raises in the first, second, and third year respectively. Also included in the proposal is an increase in the rate of overload compensation to the NSHE-recommended level of $1017 per IU, and specification that initial salary placement should be performed according to a transparent, published system.

In developing the proposal, NFA-CSN investigated the financial status of NSHE and CSN. An important part of that was analysis performed by Professor of Accounting Howard Bunsis of Eastern Michigan University, who specializes in public higher education. The analysis showed that CSN and NSHE are on solid financial footing. We believe that the raises we propose are eminently feasible.

The importance of increased compensation to the NFA-CSN team cannot be overstated. Having spoken to so many faculty unhappy about their compensation, and having researched the history and status of CSN salaries, we feel that raises are urgently needed. We will continue to communicate this at the bargaining table for as long as it takes.

We urge the Administration to take our proposal, responsibly made with respect to the employer's finances, and addressing a key issue for faculty morale, recruitment and retention, seriously. We see the Administration response as an important determining factor of the likely length and tenor of negotiations going forward.

The NFA-CSN team also offered four counter-proposals:

Distribution of the Agreement: the NFA-CSN team wanted to accept Administration's counter-proposal, but the counter-proposal had a placeholder date. Accordingly, the NFA-CSN team countered by filling in the placeholder date. Nothing is finalized, but it seems that the sides are in substantial agreement on this item, which can be regarded as a “housekeeping” item.

Financial Exigency: The Administration counter-proposal included some items proposed by NFA. NFA-CSN's counter-proposal in turn removed some language that Administration had indicated they were concerned by.

Safety: The Administration counter-proposal had incorporated somewhat-changed versions of some NFA ideas. The NFA-CSN team adopted these changes into our counter-proposal. We continue to see as important several sections in our proposal that Administration omitted in their counter, namely establishing a process by which faculty can raise safety concerns of varying levels of severity, and thereby trigger an investigation by Administration culminating in a remedy as appropriate and/or a written response. In this we are not reinventing the wheel-- all the language in the original CSN-NFA proposal came from other academic CBAs.

Non-Discrimination: The NFA-CSN team incorporated a response to one of Administration's concerns regarding training in our counter on Non-Discrimination. However, the crux of the matter appears to be that NFA-CSN sees including a section establishing non-discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, sexual orientation, etc. as imperative, while CSN Administration does not want to include such a section. Over the course of negotiations the NFA-CSN team has spoken to the importance of this straightforward and simple measure, and we will continue to advocate for it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bargaining update #4

The NFA-CSN and CSN Administration teams met for sixth and seventh bargaining sessions, on 2/3 and 2/13, resuming where the negotiations had been left off prior to winter break.

At both sessions, there was further discussion of mandatory versus permissive topics. NFA-CSN has identified various issues where we believe negotiation can produce a valuable result for faculty, students, and/or CSN, and will continue to raise those items, regardless of whether they are mandatory or permissive.

CSN Administration also stated that they do not support any reduction to the authority of the CSN President. While it is not clear how that will play out in negotiation, if adopted in draconian fashion, the NFA-CSN team does not see that line as consistent with the values of shared governance, nor with a good faith engagement with faculty voice through collective bargaining. The CSN President will always have important authority; shared governance and collective bargaining are meant to ensure that such authority is not sole and absolute but rather that there is a distribution of power throughout the institution. Faculty are highly educated professionals and we deserve a say in the functioning of our workplace.

At the two sessions, the NFA-CSN team introduced proposals on the following topics:

(2/3) Counselors: The NFA proposal was developed over the course of numerous group meetings and individual interactions with Counselors, and represents their vision of an improved counseling system at CSN. At present, the Counselors consider short-staffing and speed-up as threats to the effectiveness of the counseling system. The NFA proposal addresses these with provisions on the ratio of students to Counselors, and an expected time per visit. It also contains provisions on the structure of counseling and classification of counselors, and other issues such as a sound and efficient mechanism for recording student contacts.

In the 2/13 session, Administration rejected the proposal on the grounds that they do not consider it a mandatory subject of bargaining. They said that they would add it to the other proposals received during their sessions related to the development of a common student experience and may consider elements of it in that context.

NFA-CSN sees Counselors as playing a direct and integral part in student success. These issues are important to the Counselors in terms of how they see themselves best being able to serve the students. On that basis, NFA-CSN believes CSN Administration should be open to negotiation. Moreover, NFA-CSN does not concede that certain parts of the Counselors proposal are not mandatory.

(2/3) Emergency and Temporary Faculty Appointments Applied to Tenure: The NFA proposal is for e-hire work to be applicable toward tenure, as well as part-time instructor work reduced by a certain formula. A version of this exists in the WNC CB contract, and for CSN e-hires, this can already happen at the discretion of the Department Chair. Our proposal would ensure equity across Departments.

(2/3) Financial Exigency: NFA proposed adopting NSHE code regarding financial exigency into the contract, with several changes designed to strengthen faculty's role in the processes described.

At the next session, Administration made a counter-proposal that integrated some of NFA's ideas. The NFA-CSN team will evaluate the counter-proposal and respond at a future session.

(2/3) MFA as Grade 5: NFA proposed that the MFA should count as a Grade 5 salary qualification in fields in which it is a relevant credential.

In the 2/13 session, Administration indicated that they had requested HR to query other NSHE community colleges regarding MFA placement, and that they would perform further research on peer institutions and national benchmarks, before responding at a future session.

(2/13) Summer Teaching: The NFA proposal had two components: a fair and transparent procedure for summer class assignment, and increases to the amount of compensation for summer teaching. Regarding compensation, NFA proposed increasing the pro-rate multiplier from .01875 of base salary to .025, and increasing the compensation per IU for classes not qualifying for pro-rated pay to $1200. Based on our calculations, these increases are very feasible.

(2/13) Hiring: The NFA proposal was based on current hiring policy, with an array of changes designed to strengthen faculty's role and prerogatives in the process. Many faculty had expressed dismay at the degree to which faculty agency in hiring had in their view been reduced over the years, and the NFA proposal was designed to take steps to remedy this, while also respecting Administration's role in the process.

Other Administration responses and proposals:

In the 2/3 session, CSN Administration countered NFA-CSN's Safety proposal. The counter did incorporate some of NFA's ideas, including the right of the faculty member to dismiss class if he/she has cause for concern of the safety of themselves and/or the students, while excluding others, such as the right of a faculty member to file a written report regarding unsafe conditions and be provided a written response following investigation.

In the 2/13 session, the CSN Administration team also introduced their first proposal, on “Faculty Engagement and Participation.” The concerns they stated they were attempting to address via the proposal were consistency across departments, ensuring that faculty show up on contract days, and that faculty should be held to a high standard particularly given the potential scrutiny of legislators.

The Administration proposal included: 1) the number of contract days shall be 176-180; 2) 35 hours of work a week are required, and bargaining unit members are to provide a schedule of the application of those hours (later clarifying questions revealed the intention was that this schedule should be provided once per semester); 3) that certain events including but not limited to graduation, convocation, school meetings, departmental meetings, career events, student seminars, expositions, professional development and program advisory committees would be mandatory if called by a Dean or Department Chair and faculty could only be excused through an approved written request.

The NFA-CSN team will consider this proposal and a response will be forthcoming within the next couple sessions.

In the 2/13 session, Administration also offered a response on NFA-CSN's 12/12 proposal on Shared Governance. NFA-CSN's proposal attempted to strengthen shared governance through a multi-faceted approach. The Administration rejected the proposal as permissive and not something they were interested in negotiating, stating that Shared Governance at CSN is already strong.