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.