Friday, December 22, 2017

Bargaining update #14

In December, two collective bargaining sessions were held: 8 Dec and 18 Dec, both at the West Charleston campus.

At the first meeting, tentative agreements were reached on two contract provisions: “MFA to Salary Grade 5” and “Relocation Expenses for New Hires.” No additional tentative agreements emerged from the second meeting.

The following contract proposals were discussed during the December meetings. Dates in parentheses identify the meeting(s) at which the topic was discussed. In this summary, topics are presented in alphabetical order.

Arbitration (8 Dec. and 18 Dec.)
On 8 Dec., NFA reported that an AAUP legal expert has reviewed ADMIN’s counter-proposal on Arbitration. NFA shared that consultant’s concerns with ADMIN’s text. While ADMIN seeks to make arbitration dependent upon “mutual agreement” of both parties and to limit arbitration to “contract adherence, no case facts,” NFA takes AAUP’s recommendation to challenge these provisions, for these reasons. Mutual agreement gives parties veto powers over the other’s interests in seeking third-party scrutiny. Both parties have interests in bringing facts to arbitration; interpretation and application of the CBA includes review of facts. Another sticking point for NFA involves ADMIN’s prohibiting “appeal of a decision made in accordance with the CBA.” ADMIN explained this language articulates that disciplinary determinations should not be appealed; ADMIN is “not interested in arbitration” that challenges factual decisions made at the college.

On 18 Dec., Arbitration was again discussed as NFA continued to probe ADMIN’s resistance to this issue. ADMIN expressed skepticism of arbitrators’ knowledge and expertise in dealing with higher education conflicts. ADMIN offered willingness to “think outside the box”; maybe selecting arbitrators from “past college presidents” would enable ADMIN to look more favorably on this proposal. NFA questioned whether higher education is “a black box” that people outside it cannot understand; in fact, NFA noted, arbitrators come from all professions, including education, and are well trained and certified for their profession in arbitration.

E-Hire for Tenure (18 Dec.)
ADMIN presented a counter-proposal to NFA’s 26 Oct. counter-proposal.

Grievance Procedures (8 Dec.)
NFA presented its counter-proposal to ADMIN’s last counter on Grievance Procedures. NFA proposes Step 1 (Informal meeting) “may” be skipped if a grievant feels intimidated by the immediate supervisor involved (dept head/director). When ADMIN asserted that creating communication at the lowest level possible is preferable, NFA agreed in theory but explained that “may” is not mandating avoidance, only protecting bargaining unit members from being bullied by contentious supervisors. NFA inserts into Step 3 the Vice President of Student Services to clarify chain of command for Counselors; NFA adds into Step 4 that grievances not represented by NFA cannot be resolved “inconsistent with the terms of this Agreement.” NFA adds in Step 4(f) a provision for grievances alleging discrimination or discriminatory harassment because institutional procedures provide a longer timeline (365 days) than state (NERC, 300 days) or federal (EEOC, 180 days) laws do for addressing such issues.

Program Directors (8 Dec. and 18 Dec.)
On 8 Dec., NFA requested to amend its 6 Nov. 2017 counter-proposal, increasing Program Director credits from 3 to 4 in light of survey research recently completed on Program Director IU’s distributed across all departments. NFA has additional changes to propose after receiving ADMIN’s next counter-proposal.

On 18 Dec., in the context of discussing ADMIN’s “Summer Teaching” counter-proposal, NFA raised questions about language making Department Chairs solely responsible for preparing summer teaching schedules. NFA asked if ADMIN’s language was rewriting Program Directors’ job descriptions because, in many departments, Program Directors have been tasked with summer scheduling. ADMIN explained that Department Chairs, per organization chart, bear final (sign-off) responsibility for scheduling and that, per ADMIN’s resistance to including job descriptions in the contract, there was no intent to limit Program Director duties.

Summer Teaching (18 Dec.)
ADMIN presented a counter-proposal to NFA’s “Summer Teaching” proposal. Although ADMIN reduces NFA’s “$ per IU” and pro-rata asks, this counter offers a 15% raise and a 7% raise, respectively.

Work out of Title (8 Dec. and 18 Dec.)
At the first meeting, ADMIN presented its “markup” of NFA’s latest “Work out of Title” counter. Admin deletes “within their regular work hours” as inconsistent with the self-scheduling character of faculty work and replaces “assign” (again) for “ask” in describing management of bargaining unit members’ duties. ADMIN’s discussion point that “faculty can still say ‘no’” led to NFA’s question if “assign” would allow supervisors to discipline those who refuse or downgrade their next performance evaluation; ADMIN explained that “may decline” protects bargaining unit members from such adverse repercussions. NFA asked if adding “time-sensitive” to the wording “perform substantial tasks” would clarify that supervisory requests for last-minute, time-consuming projects are included in this provision; ADMIN asserted that “substantial” could cover that. NFA received ADMIN’s hand-edited text as an official counter-proposal.

On 18 Dec., NFA resubmitted a hand-edited counter-proposal that accepts ADMIN’s 8 Dec. text changes and inserts “without prejudice” to the “bargaining unit member may decline” sentence. NFA explained that the added language preserves the verbal claim ADMIN made previously about refusals not being subject to punishment or retribution. ADMIN received NFA’s “markup” as an official counter.

Additional Discussion: Salary and Scheduling (8 Dec. and 18 Dec.)
On Dec. 8, ADMIN updated NFA on progress made by CSN and the NSHE Chancellor to study faculty salaries. CSN’s in-house salary equity study committee has been formed and will soon hold its first meeting. The Chancellor’s NSHE salary study committee has been formed; this committee, not CSN’s, will consider external comparators. CSN’s internal committee will recommend equity criteria and discuss whether an outside consultant should be hired to conduct the study. ADMIN could not readily report the cost of hiring the consultant who performed that last salary equity study in 2013. ADMIN asserted that any further discussion of salary increases needs to work within the parameters of CSN’s budget request for 2019-2021, already submitted to the Chancellor. Some of NFA’s contract requests have been included in that proposed budget.

On 8 Dec., ADMIN expressed interest in presenting having a final contract to the June Regents meeting. This goal would require having all provisions settled by the end of February so that final draft could be printed in March for voting before May 1. On 18 Dec., ADMIN proposed a schedule of future weeks when meetings could occur; NFA and ADMIN set a tentative schedule for the next three meetings after the holidays: 1/11, 9 am, NLV; 1/26, 11 am, WC; 2/9, 10 am, HEN.