Sunday, April 30, 2017

Bargaining update #9

The teams met for bargaining sessions Monday, April 17th and Friday, April 28th, on West Charleston campus.

Monday, April 17th:

This session was shortened to an hour due to some members of the Administration team having to attend to urgent, unexpected duties. The teams agreed to do an extra hour at a future session to make up the lost time.

NFA-CSN team offered a counter on Safety with a minuscule change of one sentence from the passive to active voice and a specification to ensure the teams were on the same page with our terminology.

CSN Administration asked questions regarding the NFA proposals on Financial Exigency, Work Out of Title, and Contact Hours.

One issue that arose was a terminological disagreement. NFA-CSN prefers to refer to the parties to the contract as “NFA-CSN” and “CSN Administration,” and the employees to whom the contract applies as “bargaining unit members.” CSN Administration prefers to refer to their party as “CSN” and the employees to whom the contract applies as “academic faculty.” Administration's preference to call themselves “CSN” makes the CSN-NFA team wonder-- aren't faculty also CSN? And students, and classifieds-- our whole community? In any event, at least the parties appear to be clear on who is being referred to, even if they prefer to make that reference using different words.

Near the end of the session, NFA-CSN went through a brief review of some of the proposals on the table, to facilitate moving forward.

Friday, April 28th:

Salary discussion

The session began with Administration initiating a discussion on Salary based on a document they posted on their website. The text with NFA-CSN'sresponse can be found here. While Administration's document was rather aggressive, the tone at the table from both teams was respectful and there was a reasonable discussion of the issue.

Much of the discussion centered on whether a specific amount of money should be allocated to the Equity Study in the form of a minimum guaranteed pool of money set aside for that purpose. NFA continues to see such a concrete commitment of resources as vital. Administration contends that their past actions in the 2013 Equity Study establish them as a good actor, and therefore no minimum guarantee is necessary, and that having a minimum guarantee could undermine the potential to get a larger amount (NFA doesn't see how).

There was also some discussion of the criteria by which the Equity Study should be done, and particularly what degree of specificity to have in the CBA (collectively bargaining agreement). NFA-CSN's position is that specificity is of value and we are open to increasing the specificity of our proposal.

Financial presentation

CSN VP of Finance Mary Kaye Bailey gave a presentation on the College's finances. NFA-CSN has already given our presentation, based on research by Dr. Howard Bunsis, a Professor of Accounting specializing in forensic accounting and public budgets.

There were various disagreements between VP Bailey's presenation and Dr. Bunsis' analysis. VP Bailey contended that while by general accounting standards the evaluation of CSN having over $30 million in unrestricted reserves is correct, NSHE policy places restrictions on much of that money such that only $7 million is truly unrestricted. She also said that while the NSHE is slated for a $115 million budget increase this biennium, CSN could be facing a loss of base between two and four million, noting of course that the legislative session is not over yet.

NFA-CSN thanks the Administration for engaging in this discussion. We will review the presentation.

Revised NFA-CSN proposals

Handbook/Infobook: NFA-CSN brought a revised proposal on the Faculty Handbook (which we now call the Infobook in our proposal as per CSN Administration's argument that a Handbook can be construed as creating a legal contract, which is not our intention). This revised proposal distills the article down to our most core point-- that the Infobook should be updated yearly, and that NFA should be consulted on the information contained. That would prevent scenarios such as the present one where the Handbook has not been updated in several years and contains outdated information.

Non-Discrimination: What NFA-CSN has asked for on Non-Discrimination is not out of the ordinary for an Academic CBA, and to show that NFA-CSN presented a document titled “Non-Discrimination Language in Academic CBAs: 101 Examples.” This contained examples of language similar to Section 1 of NFA's proposal (affirming non-discrimination for protected categories such as race, religion, etc.) from one hundred and one Academic CBAs from all over (we could have done more but you have to stop somewhere). We wanted to reassure Administration that the general idea of what we're asking for is nothing that hasn't been agreed by people in their shoes many, many times before.

NFA-CSN also presented a revised proposal. We dropped our section which had to do with how often training should take place, as Administration had raised various objections and we did not want it to dilute focus from our main point in Section 1. We added a new section at the end to clarify that any protections granted by the CBA would supplement and not replace existing legal protections. We feel that our proposal is good, would send a good message, and would contribute to a good culture.

Shared Governance: Based on past table discussion with Administration, NFA-CSN pared down our Shared Governance proposal to certain vital elements, namely sections on

-Faculty Senate: asking that Administration affirm that duly adopted policies signed by the President are binding (at the table some sessions ago, CSN General Counsel Hinckley said that this was the case); asking that should the President exercise his right to rescind a policy at any time, he should provide a written explanation (essentially the same thing said in the current revision of the Policy on Policy Development).

-Consultation: that the parties should meet within two weeks of a request by either party to discuss issues related to the CBA.

-Release time for Shared Governance: increase the release time for the Faculty Senate Chair; establish release time and grant use of on-campus facilities for NFA.

Administration counter-proposals

Safety: a minor change based on the previously mentioned terminological disagreement.

Grievance Procedure: Based on NFA-CSN's first proposal, but with substantial changes, including to the time limits for various steps of the process, restructuring and re-wording of various steps and the preamble, removal of NFA-CSN's organizational right to file grievances, and other assorted changes.

Financial Exigency: Similar to NFA-CSN's last proposal, but insisting that NFA-CSN's proposed right for a laid-off faculty member to appeal the decision to the Chancellor not be included.

Work Out of Title: There were several points of divergence between NFA-CSN's proposal and Administration's counter.

-First, Administration does not want to include job descriptions in the CBA (there will undoubtedly be more discussion of this in the future), while NFA-CSN had tried to make it crystal clear what is work in or out of title by specifying that in the CBA.

-Second, Administration is apparently defining work out of title as only something that takes places outside of the normally allotted work time, which was not NFA-CSN's intention in our proposal. Our intention was to prevent the mis-use of faculty for work tasks not appropriate to their jobs regardless of whether that occurs within the normally allotted work time.

-Third, Administration prefers that compensation should be negotiated on a case by case basis rather than a rule put into place. NFA sees this as possible, given that at the table Administration responded agreeably to the right of faculty to decline a task out of title if they felt the compensation was not appropriate. However, having a rule also has benefits.

Overload Requests: Agreeing to much of NFA's proposal which was similar to the status quo, while taking out NFA's proposed language on the possibility for faculty to work additional IUs in the case of unexpected departmental shortage.

NFA-CSN response to Administration's Salary narrative

Administration posted a statement on Salary to their website. This is NFA's response. Administration's statement text is in italics, NFA response is in plain text preceded by a dash.

NFA criticized CSN’s counter-offer on salary arguing that faculty have received zero raises over the last ten years, which they believe indicates that faculty aren’t valued.

NFA’s argument that there have been no raises for 10 years is incorrect as demonstrated by their own data.

--- This is not an accurate representation of NFA's view on the history of salary increases at CSN. NFA presented data showing the history of salary increases, so it's not fair to say that NFA says there have been no raises. NFA's position is that faculty's effective compensation, outside of the 2013 Equity process, has been stagnant, given inflation, increase to health care costs, furloughs, and base reduction.

The argument that faculty aren’t valued is an emotional reaction that is absolutely untrue.

--- If unhappiness about compensation history over the last years is an “emotional reaction,” it is one shared by many faculty. Through numerous conversations, and surveys, the collective bargaining vote, and our bargaining support cards, we have seen that the feeling that “nobody is looking out for me” is widespread among faculty.

Also, NFA has written that CSN is not willing to commit any resources to CSN’s salary proposal.  Again, this is an incorrect conclusion clearly contrary to the CSN salary proposal.

--- NFA-CSN cannot detect any hard commitment of resources in the CSN salary proposal. We cannot see how this is “clearly contrary” to the text of CSN's proposal.

Faculty base salary levels rose 23% since FY07 because of merit and COLA increases.  Additionally, the Governor has proposed a 2% increase on July 1, 2017 and another 2% increase on July 1, 2018.

--- First of all, depending on the window chosen, these numbers can look much different. Substantial raises in '07-'09 bring up the total here; when looking at '10-'17 it is 5.5%-- at the same time as four years of furlough and two years of base salary reduction, which Administration does not mention anywhere in their salary narrative.

Second, taking the '07-'17 window, the government's CPI calculator shows that there has been 20.9% inflation. Combined with increases to health care expense, all of the gains are wiped out. NFA had shown a slide earlier in the negotiation comparing COLAs to CPI changes to make this point.

CSN is also fully supportive of efforts to request that the Legislature make an appropriation for merit pay.  The College leaves that task primarily to the NFA through its legislative contacts, especially those who have written in support of NFA-AAUP/CSN negotiations.

--- This paragraph encapsulates what NFA sees as a typical attitude of NSHE toward faculty salary. A profession of support (“fully supportive...”) is matched with a lack of actually doing anything (“The College leaves that task...”).

We have seen this play out repeatedly. For example, for this legislative session NSHE has repeatedly declared that faculty merit pay is their top priority. However, what NFA has heard – hearsay, but from the mouths of trusted legislators – is that this is not at all what they advocate or are focused on behind closed doors. Indeed, NSHE in the form of Regents declared their delight with the Governor's budget when it was announced, despite their supposed top priority of faculty merit going unfunded.

No wonder that faculty feel weakly advocated for, and want to take more agency in determining their compensation.

In addition to merit and COLA increases, CSN performed an internal Equity Study in 2013, and 336 academic faculty (approx. 70%) received increases to base salary levels in 2014.  The largest adjustment was just over 42%, the smallest was slightly less than 2%, and the average adjustment was approximately 18.5%.  These adjustments were funded by internal CSN resources pursuant to the NSHE Procedures and Guidelines Manual.

--- NFA is in general thankful that such raises were granted. They are a bright spot in the overall bleak picture. They also show that the College can fund and has-- as the Administration statement indicates – internally funded raises.

While appreciating that these raises were a substantial financial outlay, NFA-CSN has obtained the data and is reviewing the numbers presented here. We have already found an example of a sub-one-percent raise among those who did get raises, and of course, there were numerous faculty who didn't get any raise, as Administration notes.

Therefore, using the data from the last 10 years, academic faculty base salaries have increased substantially.   

NFA also has used a comparison of merit appropriations with step increases for the classified employees.  CSN does not believe this is an appropriate comparison because the classified employees’ salary levels are lower (generally ¼ or ½ of the salary levels of academic faculty).  This is one of the underlying justifications for the Legislature’s appropriations for step increases. 

--- One NFA slide in our Salary presentation did show that it has been the case that classifieds have received step increases when faculty did not receive merit. Comparison with classified step increases is an approach we take at the legislature to make our case. It seems strange that Administration is re-presenting arguments against faculty receiving merit, and anyway it is not relevant to the negotiations at CSN.

Nevertheless, the reference to the classified employees emphasizes the point that the Legislature is the source for appropriations for special adjustments, and this overall responsibility is not placed with each individual college or university absent legislative appropriation.   

--- NFA-CSN does not agree. Administration only several paragraphs ago touted its 2013 Equity Study, which was funded entirely by NSHE resources (half from CSN, half from NSHE). Therefore, even pre-CBA (collectively bargained agreement) the legislature has not been the source for every adjustment and the College and NSHE have had a role. This is part of why NFA-CSN chose Equity Study as one of the main arenas for our Salary proposal in the CBA negotiations.

NSHE’s established method to enable a review of the appropriateness of the professors’ salaries relative to the job-market is to perform the NSHE salary study.  Everyone agrees that this should be done, and CSN urges that we collaboratively insist that it be done.  

--- A salary study by NSHE to move the numbers in the Salary Schedule would indeed be welcomed by NFA. Why not?

However, the more fundamental problem faced at CSN, is that faculty salaries do not stack up to the Salary Schedule. NFA believes that more than three quarters are below the so-called median on the schedule. Without an Equity Study referencing the Salary Schedule, as NFA has proposed, there is no mechanism by which faculty salaries move based on the Schedule. So the problem is not just what the numbers are, but bringing them to reality.

Thereafter, depending on the results, Legislative appropriations need to be made to match the outcome of the study.

In reply to NFA’s salary proposal, CSN has proposed to:
-Perform another internal Equity Study with a target completion of 4 months after CBA ratification.  CSN recognizes that these studies must be performed at appropriate cycles.  As noted earlier, the results of Equity Studies are implemented with CSN internal funding sources.
-Join with NFA to request NSHE perform the NSHE salary study.

Regarding the note that “these studies must be performed at appropriate cycles,” NFA notes that Administration did not perform the 2015 Equity Study, disrupting the two-year pattern prescribed in NSHE code. There has been no Equity Study since 2013.

No one disputes the painful rise in employees’ out-of-pocket costs on the medical benefit.  This is a national phenomenon driven by national policy decisions.  Salary adjustments can help with this problem, but CSN is not permitted to absorb the increased cost of premiums.

--- It is a national phenomenon, and also a state phenomenon. The legislature could allocate more money, or take different policy decisions. This goes back to feeling weakly advocated for in the political sphere. NFA-CSN also wonders what Administration is referring to in being “not permitted” – it seems that with the will to commit resources and some creativity a solution could be found to help defray faculty health care costs.

CSN must follow all applicable law, which includes the Regents’ Handbook.  Importantly, Section 9 of the Collective Bargaining chapter provides:

The System is constrained by funding resources external to its control and subject to approval by bodies not participant in negotiations such as are provided by these regulations. No provision of any bargaining agreement negotiated pursuant to this chapter which requires the expenditure of funds for any purpose shall be effective unless and until funds are appropriated and are made available to the System by the Nevada Legislature….

So far, NFA has not provided a meaningful or reasonable response to CSN’s point that this law must be followed.  NFA’s only response is that “CSN can pay.”

--- This is a reductionist presentation of NFA's discussion on this point, which includes: that we are asking for Salary via an internally funded method that has been used before; that co-funding is now the budgeting reality, with CSN receiving less than half its operating budget from legislative appropriation; that unrestricted reserves can be argued to be already appropriated for any purpose; and that Salary is listed as a mandatory subject of bargaining in the NSHE Code.

To us, our Salary proposal successfully balances the above text from Section 9 with Section 13.1(a) which lists as a mandatory subject of bargaining “a. Salary or wage rates or other forms of direct monetary compensation.”

CSN is not permitted to ignore lawful requirements.  CSN is not willing to unilaterally modify the means and manner for funding salary adjustments.   

--- In NFA-CSN's view, an Equity Study is not any major modification to the “means and manner” of NSHE salary adjustments. It is part of the Code, and as a recent legislative information request to NSHE revealed, Equity adjustments have been commonplace all across NSHE over the last five years.

We have further determined that there is a large amount of discretion given in determining the criteria for the Equity Studies.

Therefore, although a CBA, per code, may modify code (Section 13.2-3), and so we could conceivably negotiate for Salary in many different ways, we have chosen negotiating over the Equity Study, given both how it is already presented in code and how it has been put into practice throughout the system over the last five years. We feel that involvement for a faculty union in determining the parameters of an Equity Study, from the resources available to the criteria to be used, is appropriate based on Section 13.1(a) listing Salary as a mandatory subject of bargaining.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bargaining update #8

The NFA-CSN and CSN Administration teams met for a bargaining session Friday, April 7th on West Charleston campus. At the session, the NFA team brought proposals on Program Directors and Professional Enrichment Programs, as well as counters on Salary, Market Hires, and Financial Exigency. CSN Administration countered on Safety.

NFA-CSN counter on Salary:

The NFA-CSN team held closely to the original NFA-CSN proposal, adopting an element of CSN Administration's language regarding legislative COLA and Merit, and making various changes to clarify the proposal based on the discussions with the Administration. The reason NFA-CSN made little movement, was because the team did not see CSN Administration's proposal as offering much movement from the baseline of what was required to happen anyway based on NSHE code. In particular, CSN Administration was not willing to commit any resources in their Salary proposal.

Members of the NFA-CSN team expressed themselves on the Salary issue. Theo Byrns spoke on the importance of valuing faculty and the alienation that comes with feeling not properly valued. Glynda White brought up NFA-CSN's research on college finances and faculty salaries, the latter showing that over three quarters of CSN faculty salaries fall below the median of their grade range on NSHE's scale. Erik Proctor gave a perspective from the Counselors on seemingly constantly increasing job duties not being matched by salary increases. Aminul Km recounted his story of medical expenses, and stressed the importance of salary to recruitment and retention.

Salary continues to be an important concern to the NFA-CSN team. CSN faculty salaries compare unfavorably to TMCC salaries, both in terms of the median, and as CSN Administration team member Dean John Adlish pointed out, the top end. Still worse is the comparison to the Community College Academic Salary Schedule scale set out in Chapter 3 of NSHE's Procedures and Guidelines Manual. The history of furloughs, base reduction, non-funded Merit, and COLAs below inflation has put us in an unfortunate position, and we need base salary increases to begin to climb back.

NFA-CSN counter on Market Hires:

NFA's second Market Hire proposal contained only minor changes from Administration's Market Hire counter. These were to formalize issues that the parties appeared to be in agreement on in prior table discussion-- namely, that a Market Hire successfully receiving tenure appointment would in no case have his/her salary reduced, and that Market Hires should be eligible for salary increases that other faculty get, such as Merit. The NFA-CSN team again applauded Administration's positive approach to the subject.

NFA-CSN counter on Financial Exigency:

As Administration had made a change to their proposal incorporating a part of NFA-CSN's proposal (that the financial exigency committee shall provide its proposed plan to NFA and the Faculty Senate), the NFA-CSN team took some of Administration's language (regarding committee size and composition) and incorporated it into NFA's 3rd proposal on Financial Exigency.

NFA-CSN proposal on Program Directors:

The NFA-CSN proposal lays out the role, responsibilities, and authority of Program Directors. It establishes evaluation procedure, and procedures by which Program Directors may be removed or vacant positions filled. It also establishes that a minimum level of compensation for a Program Director shall be 3 IUs per semester (including Summer if the Program Director is on an “A” contract), plus a stipend.

The NFA proposal was presented by John Aliano, himself a Program Director. He gave examples of how hard Program Directors work, and their value to the college. Program Director Jonathan Boarini also made a supportive comment along the same lines.

We believe that CSN has every interest in making sure these faculty, who contribute substantial work and leadership, have a standard and transparent position description and set of governing rules, and receive appropriate compensation for their work.

NFA-CSN proposal on Professional Enrichment Programs:

The NFA-CSN proposal contained several elements. Some of the points contained--

1) Regarding salary advancement through completion of advanced degrees and/or occupationally related course work: to clarify the process, and to make sure that records of work toward advancement are maintained by HR and available to the faculty member seeking advancement.

2) Regarding professional development: that Administration shall maintain sufficient funds to reimburse approved travel, and shall financially support faculty professional development activity.

3) Regarding sabbatical leave: provisions for written explanation should sabbatical leave be denied to a faculty member or if the VPAA's sabbatical approval recommendations deviate from those of the Faculty Senate Sabbatical Leave Committee.

CSN Administration counter on Safety:

CSN Administration took the proposed changes from NFA's 3rd Safety proposal and modified them. The NFA-CSN team finds the modifications reasonable, and the negotiation overall on this topic reasonable as well. That is not to say that NFA-CSN has achieved everything it wanted on this subject, but that at least Administration has listened to faculty concerns and offered constructive proposals regarding some of them.

State Sen. Tick Segerblom supports CSN faculty bargaining with letter to the Regents