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.