Negotiations Update

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September 28, 2012

During the final few weeks of Summer Quarter we prepared a comprehensive proposal, which we presented to the Administration on August 20th.  They also presented us with a comprehensive proposal.  Ours consisted of proposals we had presented earlier which the administration had been unwilling to discuss, as well as counters to proposals they had presented.  They, on the other hand, had dropped a number of their original proposals (even some we offered counters to), maintained some and offered counters to some of ours. 

Areas we see progress on

·         Administration has proposed a process that increases rigor in the evaluation of new IEL faculty, a change which seems reasonable as long as the process for dismissal is also rigorous. 

·         Clarification of the right of first refusal language for priority hire faculty.

·         Allocation of increment money so as to provide the tenure raise to faculty tenured prior to 2003.

·         Process for selection of unit administrator.

·         Changing noncompensable to compensable sick leave for full-time faculty and allowing the use of personal days for recreation.

·         Establishment of an anonymous evaluation of administrators.

Areas with some distance, but which can be narrowed

·         Stipends for non-instructional work - we proposed $55/hour for faculty program coordination and other non-instructional work, the rationale being that the nature of the work is comparable to substituting – it requires faculty expertise, but less work outside the actual duties than teaching.  Their counter of $27 indicates willingness to move on their part, but it doesn’t account for inflation, let alone reflect the value of the work, so we’ll push for more. 

·         Our proposal of adding six new tenure track positions in each of the next two years was met with a counter of two.  I’m not sure why so few, as the cost of full-time faculty is marginally or not at all higher when you factor in benefits and back-office work.

A tough issue requiring greater effort – Workload Equity

We brought this issue to the table because it’s important, it impacts student success and it is simply unjust.  The last negotiations resulted in a task force to study the issue, one conclusion of which was that the costs of a pilot project (implementation in ABE/ESL programs) should be determined.  We are concerned by the Administration’s lack of attention to this and we want to move forward.  At a meeting yesterday with Chancellor Wakefield and Charles Sims, Tracy and I were able to convey the significance of workload inequity – the fact that it contradicts the district’s emphasis on student success, that it is unjust and impacts the very students who need the most support, that it is a longstanding issue and that we’re the only colleges in the Puget Sound region where ABE/ESL faculty have 20 hour loads.  We left the meeting with the sense that Administration may be willing to discuss the issue after all, but that they have a hard time seeing how even incremental progress can be realized.  We know that the cost of equalizing workload all at once is prohibitive – over a million dollars – but we have proposed an incremental approach and believe that moving the needle a little is better than not at all.  If we are to make progress on this issue, however, you will have to show that it matters to you.  And ideas you have on how to accomplish the goal are welcome.

Challenging but not impossible

·         A priority for the District is to expand management rights.  We believe that faculty input is necessary to run successful colleges, and we have plenty of evidence of ways in which faculty are excluded from decision-making.  Contract language which reduces our input are problematic, such as eliminating faculty input into selection of interim unit administrators.  We are certainly willing to change the language to make that process more manageable, but we won’t take you out of the picture.

·         Faculty program coordination – next to workload inequity, this is the issue I probably hear more about than any other.  Faculty work far more than they’re paid for, the boundaries around the role are unclear, new faculty often believe, sometimes for years, that the program coordinator is their boss…the list of concerns goes on.  We want language that defines the role more clearly, they want to specify reasons for “dismissal.”  We’ll keep working at it.

We all know that our colleges have taken enormous cuts since 2009.  It’s also the case, however, that we are consistently told “there’s no money.”  That makes it difficult to know just how little money is available.  So let’s say it’s true, as seems reasonable, there is very little money to allocate to faculty.  Many of our proposals have no economic impact and yet, we still see resistance to some along with significant take-aways.

I am optimistic, however, that we will end up with a better contract; we need your support to do so.  So stay tuned and consider attending negotiations as an observer – October 5th, 12th and 19th are our next scheduled sessions.  Contact to sign up.  Also, we’ll have information sessions on the campuses soon, so please plan to attend.

In solidarity,

Karen Strickland

AFT Seattle President


1500 Harvard Ave.

Seattle, WA 98122