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.