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.