Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bargaining Update #17

Two sessions have occurred since the last update:

NEGOTIATIONS, March 23, 2018

NFA-CSN and CSN Administration teams met on the Friday before Spring Break. Tentative agreement was reached on a contract provision enabling tenure-track faculty to count two consecutive semesters of full-time E-Hire experience in their probationary period, speeding the tenure clock if this experience includes college service and professional development. Other discussions revealed new elements of Administration’s plans to overhaul working conditions at the college.

Contact Hours Multiplier: NFA presented research showing that CSN’s .75IU rate for Lab/Studio contact hours is subpar. NFA proposes a compromise increase to .85IU with “mutual agreement” in Section 4 allowing future changes pending results of Administration’s compensation study.

Counselors: Administration’s counter-proposal refuses to guarantee specific IUs for extra work because the use of IUs is being studied now and new policy will be written for future implementation. Administration refuses to include organizational issues in the contract, like Counselors having a Department Chair, because the new AVP arriving May 1 will need to work her process for reorganizing Counseling. NFA asserted counselors’ and teaching faculty’s rights to contribute input in this process since we see most directly how accessible counseling in the Schools has improved student success.

Department Chairs: NFA’s counter-proposal stipulates that the reason(s) for disqualifying someone from seeking election as department chair be provided to the would-be candidate, and the the disqualification occur before the election date. This compromise addresses Administration’s concern for keeping personnel information confidential while maintaining integrity and transparency of department-chair election procedures and allowing supporters time to find a new candidate.

Faculty Offices: NFA’s original proposal addressed two fundamental points: bargaining unit members have the right to a functionally equipped office on the campus where they perform the greatest portion of their work; when space limitations apply, waiting lists for each campus based on office request dates will be used to re-allocate offices. Administration’s counter-proposal introduces an undefined concept, “appropriate functional space,” for providing faculty necessary resources while claiming more flexibility in managing facilities and equipment. NFA foresees problems using this slippery concept to structure where and how faculty work and to possibly force sharing of offices, and decided to address it in the next session (see below.)

Professional Enrichment: NFA’s counter-proposal restores NSHE Code references to section headers without the “shall be followed” phrasing Administration had previously rejected. The proposal's three sections cover Salary Advancement with degree attainment and continuing education credits, Professional Development as required to support annual evaluations, and Sabbatical Leave.

Program Directors: NFA’s counter-proposal raises PD compensation to 4 IUs per semester, to guarantee a course release regardless of academic discipline, and stipulates a B+ contract. Both provisions address problems reported to NFA with IUs being cut and promised contracts not being delivered. NFA argues that, despite Administration’s plans to revise compensation policies for the future, faculty need a stated minimum now because the  indeterminate process of revamping policy is not guaranteed to follow the projected timeline.

Salary: NFA’s counter-proposal aligns a guaranteed salary equity study with the two-year schedule set in NSHE Procedures & Guidelines and designates a minimum value for the internal equity funding pool to be distributed according to the analytical criteria established for the study.

Other Discussion: Components of Arbitration and Discipline & Termination were discussed  informally. Administration questioned NFA’s points on arbitration jurisdiction and providers, academic freedom protection against “insubordination” charges, and a “clean slate” provision to expunge minor infractions from personnel records with long-term good behavior.  NFA asserts that neutral third-party arbitration, clear definitions, and positive feedback for professional responsibility are essential working conditions for bargaining unit members.

NEGOTIATIONS, April 6, 2018,

Clear progress was made on a number of the smaller issues:
Admin announced their Tentative agreement to NFA’s Professional Enhancement proposal which features, among various elements, improvements to record-keeping for occupational credits to salary advancement and to communication with faculty regarding sabbatical applications and denials.  Agreement is also nearing on NFA’s proposal on Program Directors which stipulates a minimum release time of 3IUs or whatever is the equivalent of one course in that department.  Agreement seems close as well on NFA’s common sense proposal on Department chair elections, which proposes that any disqualification of candidates occurs prior to the election, so that new candidates can file.

Some discussion and possible progress occurred  on NFA’s Librarian proposal which governs movement back and forth between A and B+ contracts and 1 IU release for site managers.  Less clear was any movement on faculty offices. NFA’s proposal is that faculty be allowed to have offices on the campus which they mainly teach and if none available, a waiting list be established;  and that any sharing of offices occur only with both faculty members permission. Admin seemed attached their earlier idea of replacing offices with “functional workspaces” an idea which seems designed to allow them to assign shared offices at will.

As far as the big ticket item of pay equity was concerned, there was little evidence of movement. Admin reiterated their refusal to commit to any amount as a minimum – "Not one dollar".  This totally contradicts their other position regarding finances – that every last dollar in the budget is accounted for. If the latter is true, then how much have they committed to this year's salary study?

They also announced that the current year pay equity study which they’d previously announced for this semester would be pushed back into fall due to their need to find, screen and hire a consultant to perform the study. They also maintained that they would not do anything to increase transparency, because they felt that the 2013-4 study was transparent enough, given that each person got an individual letter briefly explaining the amount they received. NFAs position is that given state salaries are public information, spreadsheets should be released allowing anyone to see if everyone got their fair amount according to the criteria established.

The next meeting will be held on April 19.