Friday, June 16, 2017

Overall bargaining status check and review -- June 2017

The NFA-CSN and CSN Administration bargaining teams have been negotiating for the first faculty CBA (collectively bargained agreement) since November 2016. This is a general status update.

Schedule of negotiations:
There have been seventeen negotiating sessions so far; a rate of a little slower than one session every two weeks. NFA had preferred an average rate of one session per week, while Administration preferred a slower pace.

Both sides agreed on cycling the meetings across the three campuses.

Mandatory and permissive bargaining topics:
One issue that arose early on was the status of various bargaining topics. NSHE Code delineates certain subjects as “mandatory,” meaning that if one party wishes to negotiate on that subject, the other side must negotiate. Administration has taken the position that they only want to include items in the CBA on subjects found in that list. With that rationale, they have declined various NFA proposals.

As a general matter, so long as they are not unlawful, items other than those on the mandatory list may be negotiated, (these are called “permissive” subjects of bargaining). NFA's position has been, if an item would bring benefit to students, faculty, and/or the institution, then we will propose it, regardless of its status as mandatory or permissive. We hope that Administration will look at such proposals as attempts to promote the common good at CSN, and evaluate them with an open mind. This would be nothing out of the ordinary-- it is very rare to find an academic CBA that does not have some permissive items included.

Support for NFA bargaining:
NFA is proud to report that we are receiving grassroots support from a variety of quarters. We have collected hundreds of faculty support cards, we have circulated a student support petition that has garnered over two thousand signatures from CSN students, and we have received letters of support from several legislators. We will continue to build our support as bargaining proceeds.

Proposals:

Agreed:
Recognition – the employer recognizes NFA as the bargaining agent for CSN faculty.

Saving Clausea technical item stating that if part of the contract is legally invalidated, that does not invalidate the whole contract, and that the parties will renegotiate a part of the contract that is legally invalidated.

Distribution of the AgreementAdministration agrees to post the CBA on the CSN website, and to inform new hires about the bargaining unit and how to find the CBA.

Overload RequestsA request to work zero up to an including four overload units shall be granted by the Department Chair or Program Director; from above four up to and including six overload units may be granted by the Department Chair with the Dean's approval.

Safety – Several aspects:
  • Administration agrees to provide a safe and clean working environment.
  • Faculty can raise safety concerns, and have the right to a written response.
  • If a faculty member has concern for the safety of her/himself and/or students, he/she has the right to dismiss class if necessary.
  • NFA will have an appointee on the CSN Safety and Security Committee.

Open:
Salary (NFA first proposal 2/24/17; Administration counter 3/24/17; NFA counter 4/7/17) – Faculty consistently rank Salary as a key issue, and it is no mystery why: after the furloughs, base reduction, and salary freeze of the recession, faculty would like to recover some ground. NFA-CSN has consistently expressed the importance of compensation in these negotiations, and the high priority our team places on this item.

NFA's proposal had several parts:

  • Pay raises: equity studies to distribute salary increases equal to 2.5%, 3.0%, and 4.0% of the total salary pool shall be conducted in contract years one, two, and three respectively. The objective would be to make sure faculty salaries stack up to the Salary Schedule, to address compression and/or inversion, and to enhance competitiveness in recruitment and retention. No faculty member below their Q3 salary figure in the Salary Schedule should receive less than a one percent increase.

  • Initial placement: the system for initial salary placement shall be published; faculty shall have the right to a written explanation of their initial placement; evidence of an incorrect initial placement shall be given high consideration in a faculty member's salary equity review request.

  • Overload pay: increase pay per overload IU to $1017 (the 2014 NSHE-recommended figure.)

Administration's response did not contain provisions on initial placement or overload, nor did it commit any definite amount of money to an equity study. More information regarding the differences between the teams on Salary can be found here and here.

Benefits (NFA first proposal 3/10/17) – NFA-CSN's proposal contained various items:

  • Freeze bargaining unit members' contribution to health care premiums.
  • Create a joint NFA-CSN/CSN Administration committee to lobby appropriate entities for improvements or alternatives on health insurance.
  • Establish an opt-in for faculty to Social Security.
  • Allow faculty to apply unused sick and/or annual leave to either advance retirement or to receive a lump sum payment upon retirement.
  • Parental leave-- grant five weeks paid leave to be used prior to the use of sick days or unpaid leave in FMLA circumstances.
  • Create a sick leave bank.
  • Give faculty considering medical leave the opportunity to teach all online classes for up to two semesters, if qualified to teach online.

Administration has not countered; they have indicated they are exploring the feasibility of various of these items.

Grievance Procedure (NFA first proposal 11/14/16; Administration counter 4/28/17; NFA counter 5/8/17) – NFA proposed a standard grievance procedure. This is a procedure to enforce the CBA (not to be confused with the existing institutional complaint procedure). Administration said they preferred to see what items might be in the CBA before negotiating an enforcement mechanism, and their first response came more than five months later.

The Administration counter was similar in structure to the NFA proposal. NFA accepted some of Administration's preferences, while other differences remain, perhaps most important among them over NFA's organizational right to pursue a grievance. More information can be found here.

Arbitration (NFA first proposal 11/14/16) – NFA proposed a standard arbitration procedure. This is the typical final step of a grievance procedure in resolving a CBA-related dispute, where a ruling is made by a neutral third party with relevant technical expertise-- an arbitrator.

Administration said they preferred to see what items might be in the CBA before negotiating Arbitration. However, even after NFA had put its proposals on the table, they still have not responded on Arbitration. NFA does not see why, given that they have responded on Grievance Procedure. This is a mandatory subject of bargaining that NFA on which NFA has been trying to negotiate since the second session.

Both Grievance Procedure and Arbitration are vital to the overall integrity and meaningfulness of the CBA, and NFA sees no reason why Administration should fear straightforward, functional, standard Grievance and Arbitration articles, which is what we have proposed.

Non-Discrimination (NFA first proposal 11/14/16, Administration verbal counter 11/28/16, NFA counter 12/6/16, Administration written counter 12/12/16, NFA counter 2/24/17, NFA revision 4/28/17) – Both sides agree that the employer should not discriminate based on NFA membership or activity. The persistent disagreement is over whether the employer should commit in the CBA not to discriminate based on race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and a host of other criteria.

Administration says they do not want to, because they consider existing laws proscribing such discrimination as already providing sufficient protection. They said they would not want to supersede those legal protections with the CBA, and that anyway, discrimination is not a problem at CSN. NFA has modified its proposal to be clear that the protections offered by the CBA would be in addition to and not superseding or replacing existing protection offered by the law.

NFA believes that it is important to affirm non-discrimination in the CBA, regardless of whether discrimination is or is not a problem at CSN (a subject on which different people may have different opinions). NFA also notes that such language is common in academic CBAs. That is why NFA produced a document titled “Non-Discrimination Language in Academic CBAs: 101 Examples” containing one hundred and one examples of faculty CBAs with one form or another of similar language regarding non-discrimination.

Administration's refusal to agree to Non-Discrimination is a surprising inconsistency with its repeated statements on the subject, and hardly qualifies as going “above and beyond” on the issue.

More information can be found here.

Discipline and Termination (NFA's first proposal 3/10/17, Administration counter 3/24/17, NFA counter 5/8/17, Administration counter 5/30/17) – While various aspects of the disciplinary process are shaping up through negotiation, a difference of overwhelming importance to NFA remains: we think it should be the place of a neutral third party to make the final determination as to whether discipline is justified. There should be recourse outside the structures of the employer, as there is for the overwhelming majority of other unionized faculty and unionized workers in general. More information here.

Summer Teaching (NFA first proposal 2/13/17) – The NFA proposal has two parts:
  • Assignment: classes should be given out equitably such that no one receives two class assignments before someone else seeking to teach similar classes receives one.
  • Pay: increase pro-rata pay to .025 times base pay per IU, and increase fixed dollar amounts for classes not qualifying for pro-rata pay. Eliminate existing loophole by which full-time faculty members taking over classes from part-time instructors have been paid at the part-time rate.

Administration and NFA met to discuss cost estimates of this proposal (the estimates were within 10% of one another). Administration has not yet responded with a counter-proposal.

Contact Hours Multiplier (NFA first proposal 3/24/17) – NFA has proposed to increase the IU value multiplier for Laboratory and Studio contact hours incrementally over three years to bring it to 1. We believe that lab instruction should not be valued less than classroom instruction. Our objective is to achieve parity, as they have at TMCC. We have also proposed that the Clinic/Lab/Studio IU value multiplier (clinical supervision work engaged in primarily by Nursing faculty) should be increased from 0.4 to 0.5 over the course of three years, based on discussions with faculty engaged in that work.

Administration has not yet countered; they have indicated they are looking at the costs.

Shared Governance (NFA first proposal 12/12/16, NFA revision 4/28/17) – NFA's first proposal was multi-faceted, including among other things a call to conduct a collaborative study of Shared Governance to generate recommendations for improvements, and a process to develop explicit unit-level Shared Governance protocols. However, Administration responded that they were not interested. NFA then dropped those parts of the proposal, and reduced it to several core elements:

  • Faculty Senate: affirmation that duly adopted Faculty Senate policies are binding; requirement for CSN President to provide a written explanation of his/her decision to rescind a duly adopted Faculty Senate policy to all members of the Faculty Senate.
  • Consultation: that NFA and Administration will meet within two weeks of a request by the other party to consult on matters related to the CBA.
  • Release time: provision of release time and facilities support for Shared Governance activities.

Administration has not responded to NFA's revised proposal.

Faculty Engagement and Participation / Faculty Contracts (Administration first proposal 2/3/17, NFA counter-proposal 3/10/17) – This proposal was first made by Administration with the title “Faculty Engagement and Participation.” It specified the hours worked within the week and days worked within the year, and included provisions for mandatory attendance at various functions, including the supervisor's right to require attendance at events.

After discussion with constituents, NFA rejected the mandatory attendance provisions, citing among other things concerns about conflicts with teaching, and the fact that attendance is already accounted for in evaluations. Our counter, which we titled “Faculty Contracts,” came back on hours worked within the week and days worked within the year, by proposing the status quo, broken out by contract type (Administration's proposal did not account for the different contract types).

Market Hires (NFA first proposal 2/24/17, Administration counter 3/24/17, NFA counter 4/7/17, Administration counter 5/30/17) – NFA was able to determine that, far from being paid above the average faculty member in exchange for foregoing the tenure track, Market Hires in fact make on average ten thousand dollars less than the overall average faculty salary. There are many valuable faculty, including faculty working in CTE (Career and Technical Education), who are Market Hires, and high attrition in this category resulting from lack of job security and lagging salary is a detriment to the College's mission. NFA therefore proposed a path to tenure for Market Hires. Administration has accepted the principle, but the details are still under negotiation.

Counselors (NFA first proposal 2/3/17, NFA revision 5/30/17) – The provision of quality and accessible academic counseling is vital to student success. Counselors had numerous suggestions to improve the functioning of their unit, which has been struggling with under-staffing and speed-up. These were listed in NFA's first proposal on Counselors.

However, Administration is implementing a restructuring plan that was more radical than Counselors had envisioned at the time of the first proposal. The restructuring will move the bulk of the academic counseling work to advisors-- non-tenure-track positions with no degree requirement. Counselors will be reserved as a less numerous and more elite position. In light of the changed situation, NFA presented a revised Counselors proposal.

Librarians (NFA first proposal 2/24/17) – The NFA proposal contained five items generated by librarians, dealing with the administrative structure and place of the library unit, the compensation for “site coordinator” duties (which had formerly been compensated but currently are not), and librarian contracts. Administration has not responded.

Faculty Offices (NFA first proposal 12/6/16) – The NFA proposal in it's entirety reads “CSN administration shall provide one functionally equipped faculty office per bargaining unit faculty member. The faculty member has the right for this office to be located on the campus at which the faculty member performs the majority of his/her in-person instruction.”

Administration asked a question about what would apply for faculty teaching one hundred percent online, but did not subsequently make any counter-proposal. NFA sees no reason why this very basic proposal would be objectionable. It is plainly beneficial for students to have faculty available in offices on the same campus on which they are receiving instruction.

Work out of Title (NFA first proposal 3/24/17, Administration counter 4/28/17, NFA counter 5/8/17) – Spurred by complaints from the faculty, the idea of NFA's proposal is to provide a disincentive for the assignment of non-professionally-appropriate work tasks to faculty, by imposing an extra cost for such assignments.

Administration came back with a counter regarding overtime assignments. While this contained reasonable elements, it did not address the fundamental motivation of the NFA proposal. NFA countered by including a version of Administration's overtime idea, while maintaining our position that there faculty should have protection against the assignment of non-professionally-appropriate work tasks.

Successorship (NFA first proposal 12/12/16, NFA revision 5/19/17) – The first NFA proposal contained two aspects: protection in the case of outsourcing or reorganization, and requirement that the employer negotiate outsourcing with NFA. Outsourcing is not foreign to higher education-- it can happen, and has, including in NSHE. Faculty deserve the basic protection of a guarantee of continued employment under the terms of the CBA.

Subsequently, NFA revised this proposal to also include details of contract duration and re-negotiation. We also struck the proposed requirement for negotiations with NFA regarding outsourcing, to focus on the most basic element of our proposal-- that faculty should continue to be employed and the CBA continue to apply in the case of outsourcing.

Emergency and Temporary Faculty Appointments Applied to Tenure (NFA first proposal 2/3/17) – The idea of the NFA proposal is that e-hire time should count toward a faculty member's tenure clock, if the faculty member so chooses. E-hires are common at CSN and those who are successful are often hired into permanent positions. In those cases, the e-hire time is sometimes applied to the tenure clock and sometimes not, depending on the specifics of the situation (does the faculty member know this is possible? does the Department Chair want to do it? etc.) Our proposal aims to establish a clear, standardized procedure.

Administration has said they are investigating the idea, but has not yet responded.

MFA as a Grade 5 Qualification for Salary (NFA first proposal 2/3/17, Administration counter 5/8/17, NFA counter 5/19/17) – There are a number of reasons why the MFA degree should be considered a highest-qualification for fields in which it is relevant, and at various other higher education institutions it is. Administration has accepted the idea in principle and the negotiation is now focused on what fields the MFA is relevant to. More information on this topic here.

Hiring (NFA first proposal 2/13/17) – The NFA proposal is based on the existing hiring policy, but varies by pushing for a greater role and powers for the faculty search committee in the hiring process (the first committee). Formerly, the first committee had greater powers, but over time they have been eroded. Given that the first committee is the only one with access to a teaching demonstration, and given that faculty have important expertise in judging the quality of a potential new hire, we see recovering some of the first committee's authority as highly likely to benefit CSN overall by increasing the average quality of hires.

NFA's proposal also includes some other modifications, including granting limited relocation expense reimbursement to faculty hired from outside the Las Vegas area. Relocation expense reimbursement is a perk that will help attract quality candidates, and will help faculty through a potentially lean period between paychecks, given that the first CSN paycheck for July 1st hires comes in October.

Administration has said they are preparing their counter.

Program Directors (NFA first proposal 4/7/17) – Defines a standard set of duties and authority for Program Directors, as well as procedures for evaluating, adding and removing Program Directors, and contains increases to Program Director compensation in the form of a stipend and the establishment of a minimum of three IUs release per semester (currently many Program Directors receive two IUs when formerly almost all had been at three or above, a change that was implemented in 2016).

Administration has indicated that compensation “could be negotiated,” but that they do not want to establish any duties, authorities, or procedures for Program Directors in the CBA. They said that they don't want “job descriptions” in the CBA, but that point aside, this proposal does not establish a job description-- Program Director is a set of additional duties. It is normal in an academic CBA to have special roles with extra duties described in the CBA, including compensation, and associated procedures.

Department Chairs (NFA first proposal 5/8/17) – Similarly to the Program Director proposal, the Department Chair proposal delineates the role, compensation, and associated procedures for Department Chairs. The proposal is status quo policy, with one change made in the election procedure, to address a situation that arose in a Department Chair election last semester.

Administration's response to the proposal was similar to its response for Program Directors, and NFA believes the same arguments apply as to why Department Chair should be included in the contract more fully than just compensation. Intrinsically tied to compensation for extra duties are what the extra duties are, and how a faculty member gets or loses the ability to perform them.

Faculty Infobook (NFA first proposal 11/28/16, NFA revision 4/28/17) – this proposal was spurred by the Faculty Handbook being out of date (last updated 2013), and the difficulty some faculty have experienced in finding past versions of policies and the time periods in which they had applied. The proposal initially called for yearly updating of the Faculty Handbook, for timely updating of the Policies and Procedures website, for hardcopies of the Faculty Handbook and the Policies and Procedures Manual to be available in the libraries, and for an archive of those documents to be created for the purpose of historical record and housed in the library.

Administration objected to the use of the word “handbook” as they say a handbook can be construed to be creating a legal contract, accordingly NFA changed to the term “infobook” – it was never our intention to create some kind of back-door contract. Administration also objected to the production of hardcopies and said an archive was unnecessary because historical policy information was already readily available.

To move forward, we pared our proposal down to its most core idea-- that the Infobook should be updated yearly in consultation with NFA, and that the Policies and Procedures website be updated in a timely fashion.

Emeritus Status (NFA first proposal 11/28/16) – This proposal was for status quo policy. Administration said they do not want to include anything on Emeritus Status in the CBA. NFA argued that this is a mandatory subject of bargaining because it relates to compensation (compensation for emeritus work is described in the existing policy). Administration argued that emeritus faculty are not in the bargaining unit, therefore that is irrelevant. NFA argued that the procedure to obtain emeritus status may occur when the faculty member is in the bargaining unit (existing policy states it can take place within a year of retirement-- either before or after) and therefore it is relevant, and furthermore a “procedure for addition in workforce,” another mandatory bargaining subject.

NFA's perspective, is that it is hard to see why Administration would object to putting status quo policy that is working well into the CBA. Is there some plan to change this policy in the future?

Academic Freedom (NFA first proposal 12/6/16) – Faculty had expressed to NFA concern that academic freedom should be safeguarded. Academic freedom is a core value of AAUP, and AAUP unions always seek to establish it contractually. CSN's existing policy is good, so that is what NFA proposed go into the CBA. However, Administration said that they had no interest in putting the policy in the CBA. Again we are left to wonder, why wouldn't Administration agree to making this policy enforceable via the CBA?

Financial Exigency (NFA first proposal 2/3/17, Administration counter 2/13/17, NFA counter 2/24/17, Administration counter 3/10/17, NFA counter 4/7/17, Administration counter 4/28/17) – makes various changes or clarifications to NSHE code regarding procedures surrounding the declaration of financial exigency and associated layoffs. Through a process of give and take, a reasonable compromise has been reached, with one point of disagreement still outstanding-- NFA proposes that a faculty member who was recommended not to be laid off by his/her case review committee, but who was nonetheless laid off by the CSN President, should have the right to appeal that decision to the Chancellor.

To NFA, this seems like common sense. What is the cost-- a little bit of the Chancellor's time? With someone's job set to be lost through no fault of their own, and a review committee backing that person's continued employment, surely review from a higher authority would be beneficial.

Immigration Status (NFA first proposal 3/24/17) – this short proposal simply asks that faculty members not be compelled to report the immigration status of members of the CSN community, nor be compelled to deny a student services based on immigration status.

Given that CSN is a Hispanic Serving Institution in a diverse city, with a diverse faculty and student body, and that this proposal would not require any changes from present practice, NFA had thought this would be an uncontroversial proposal. However, Administration said that while they agreed with the spirit of the proposal, they did not want such a provision to appear in the CBA.

The CBA and NSHE Code, Policies and Practices (NFA first proposal 11/28/16, NFA revision 5/8/17) – the purpose of this proposal is to indicate the role of the CBA in the overall policy environment in which faculty are situated. As per NSHE code, the CBA articles may modify or supersede NSHE Code, but in cases where NSHE Code is not modified or superseded by the CBA, Code continues in effect.

NFA considers it beneficial to have an explanation of the role of the CBA attached to the CBA, to help make it user-friendly. Administration has agreed that the description of the role of the CBA in the proposal is accurate. However there is some question about unintended legal consequences (the article possibly giving NFA the right to grieve non-CBA policies was discussed at the table). That was never NFA's intention with this proposal, and NFA is open to finding a way to remove the possibility of any such loop-holes.

Professional Enrichment Programs (NFA first proposal 4/7/17) – Several aspects:

  • Salary advancement through professional development: specifies aspects of this procedure; importantly, an accounting of progress toward advancement shall be maintained by HR, and available to the faculty member.
  • Professional development: sufficient travel funding shall be maintained; new or master course creation and other activities should be incentivized monetarily or through release time.
  • Sabbatical: specifies aspects of the sabbatical process, including the necessity for a written justification should a sabbatical application be denied.

Administration has not yet responded.