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Negotiations Update February 19, 2013

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

The one year “anniversary” of the start of negotiations has arrived. I hate to think of how many trees we’ve used up, with our multiple drafts of proposals, counter proposals, tentative-tentative agreements and volumes of minutes.  All that paper represents a lot of thinking, reflection, consideration…and in the near future, we hope, a contract worthy of ratification.

 

At this point, though, we don’t have that contract.  We have a collection of proposals that reflect some improvements in language and which clarify some processes.  But everything of substance is on the table with a bold-font question mark.  Read on for more detail, and if you want a contract that is worthwhile and demonstrates respect for faculty and our profession, then:

  

Please join your colleagues in the first floor lobby of the Siegal Center on Friday, 2/22, from 8:15 until 9:00 a.m.  Wear AFT blue and show the administration that this contract matters to you and that an improved contract is a demonstration of respect for the work we do.

 

I decided to revisit our opening statement to evaluate our progress.  In it, we noted that:

  • Seattle has the highest cost of living in the state.
  • Our salaries have plummeted without COLAs or other increases worthy of note.
  • We’ve lost numerous faculty through retirement or because they sought greener pastures elsewhere.
  • Part-time faculty still face a lack of acknowledgement of the contributions they make, in spite of the critical role they play in the colleges’ success.
  • Workload inequity is an issue that must be addressed.
  • The work we do outside of the classroom is of paramount importance to operating the colleges and it impacts students.
  • Faculty have an interest in shared governance because faculty have the interest and expertise to contribute meaningfully to decisions related to classroom and college policy.

In regard to salary-related issues, the priorities were to increase the stipend rate and make progress on workload equity.  The team and Executive Board have been responsive to your input and we have remained committed to both.  We are now proposing $40/hour for the stipend rate.  We have pared back our workload equity proposal, believing that even the smallest increment of progress is better than no progress at all.  Our proposal is to decrease annualized weekly workload from 60 to 55 credits for ABE/ESL on the main campuses with a comparable (although calculated differently and impacted by state law) change for ABE/ESL faculty at SVI.

 

We have proposed implementation of the promotional increase for part-time faculty, which was originally negotiated with contingency language that is unlikely to be realized.

 

We have even agreed to remove the course cap for online classes if we can make progress on workload equity.

 

We will not get these gains if you don’t show up to demonstrate to the administration that you care about this contract!

 

We are very close on a number of non-economic issues, such as Core status for Intensive English Program (IEP) faculty, evaluation of faculty, faculty program coordinators, moonlighting and program closure.  The administration had an interest in increasing the rigor in the evaluation process; we wanted greater clarity, guidelines and balancing the sometimes competing interests of faculty. Some proposed changes include:

  • A more rigorous evaluation process for full-time IEP faculty, earlier evaluation for part-time faculty, and a three year review for priority hire faculty.
  • More clear exclusions of responsibilities for faculty program coordinators.
  • Specification of factors determining compensation for faculty program coordinators.
  • Caps on moonlighting.
  • Provision of information at least 60 days prior to the decision to terminate a program.
  • Previously explained “tentative-tentative agreements still stand, except that the Administration has withdrawn the change to the summer start date to avoid having to give us anything in exchange.

 As is predictable, the Administration continues to reference the uncertainty of the current legislative session and the ongoing revenue crisis as barriers to our economic proposals.  It’s true, there is an ongoing revenue crisis and the legislative session is not looking particularly optimistic.  However, lack of money is always cited as an obstacle and yet, the dollars are found for other things when there’s an interest in finding them. 

 

Our proposals are relatively modest.  We have thought carefully about the relationship between our working conditions and our students’ learning conditions.  We want to present to you a contract that we all feel is worthy of ratification.  We need you to show up:

 

Please join your colleagues in the first floor lobby of the Siegal Center on Friday, 2/22, from 8:15 until 9:00 a.m.  Wear AFT blue and show the administration that this contract matters to you and that a good contract is a demonstration of respect for the work we do.

 

We will review our progress more fully and prepare for Friday's demonstration of support at the All Faculty Meeting on Thursday, 2/21 from 4 - 6 at North Campus in room ED 2843A.

In Solidarity,

Karen Strickland
AFT Seattle President