Sunday, October 29, 2017

Bargaining update #13

The NFA-CSN and CSN Administration bargaining teams met for bargaining sessions, on October 10th and October 26th. Various item were discussed with varying levels of progress being made; this update focuses on two of high priority for faculty: Salary and Benefits. These were discussed in these sessions, and NFA is disappointed to report that little progress was made.

Salary: The parties have been negotiating the parameters of internally-funded equity studies. On October 10th, Administration re-introduced a Salary proposal, having rescinded their previous proposal. The main content of Administration's October 10th proposal was regarding an equity study. Their proposal was substantially similar to that which they had previously made. NFA's critique of this proposal is the same as that of the previous, similar proposal, and can be found here. The NFA-CSN team spent a solid hour of the session expressing our view of the shortcomings of the Administration proposal.

Subsequently, on October 26th, Administration revised their Salary proposal. The revised proposal was improved by the addition at least of a timeline. However, on many other points, including above all the lack of a guaranteed amount of money to be distributed by the equity study, NFA continues to find Administration's proposal lacking.

Moreover, other important aspects of NFA's Salary proposal were not addressed, namely, initial placement, and overload pay (Administration has said they will bring an Overload Pay proposal to the next bargaining session).

On a positive note, Administration did indicate that they were returning to their original plan of performing an equity study this academic year (that plan had been canceled due to then-Chancellor Nichols' memo, which NFA successfully opposed). While NFA of course believes that equity studies negotiated in a CBA are the better vehicle for making salary adjustments, this will at least give Administration the chance to demonstrate good intentions in the meantime.

NFA-CSN will bring a Salary counter to the next bargaining session on November 6th. We have found that faculty feel strongly about the need to improve compensation, and from the beginning of negotiations we have consistently expressed this priority to Administration. We are not going to stop now.

We believe that the negotiations can potentially move forward productively, and we have always attempted to be reasonable. If however, an impasse develops, we will evaluate our options, including how to best call our bargaining unit members into action.

Benefits: October 26th, Administration brought their first counter on Benefits. Administration agreed to four parts of NFA's original proposal: that benefits not modified in the CBA are to continue; that the parties will jointly lobby for improvements to health insurance; that information regarding employee benefits will be provided through CAPE sessions; and that online teaching is an appropriate medical accommodation for faculty considering medical leave.

While agreement on these issues is welcomed, important items were not addressed in Administration's counter:

  1. Sick Leave Bank-- NFA has proposed a Sick Leave Bank be created for faculty, just as there is one for classifieds. Administration said that “for now the answer is no” citing uncertainty about how this would be implemented in Workday and also claiming that if it were implemented for CSN, it would have to be implemented NSHE-wide. NFA believes that the logistics in any case should be workable (there were sick leave banks before there were computers, after all), and that protection in the case of catastrophic illness through pooling voluntary donations of earned sick days would be of value.

  1. Sick leave payout upon retirement-- this is a benefit enjoyed by numerous of CSN's comparator institutions. Administration has claimed that cost prohibits CSN from having such a benefit, however they have not provided a clear cost estimate. NFA does not believe that the costs are as great as Administration apparently thinks. We look forward to looking through the data.

  1. Parental leave-- NFA has proposed that bargaining unit members going out on FMLA leave upon the birth or adoption of a child, be afforded five weeks of paid time off, before having to use sick leave and/or unpaid leave. Studies have shown the importance of parental leave, and some of CSN's comparator institutions have it. It would help elevate CSN's family-friendly status, and attract new faculty. However, Administration did not include this in their Benefits response.

  1. Health care premium increase freeze-- NFA had proposed CSN set aside money to absorb the cost of health care premium increases for bargaining unit members. Administration was not interested in this, saying they preferred not to have uncertain costs based on potential premium increases.
  2. Social Security opt-in-- as a number of faculty have previously contributed to Social Security, and are faced with a penalty for not having contributed while working as a state employee in Nevada, NFA had asked for an opt-in option to be established whereby faculty could voluntarily direct a portion of their retirement contribution toward Social Security. Administration expressed that they thought political resistance would be too great, since all the other state employees would lack the option.

NFA will bring a counter to the next bargaining session.