Tuesday, March 21, 2017

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.