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Negotiations Updates: Summaries


March 13, 2012

 

Hello Faculty,

 

We’re off and running with negotiations, with the hope of presenting you with a contract for ratification before Spring Quarter ends.  We began with a training on February 24th and by the end of our third session (March 9th), had nearly completed our working agreement and read our opening statements (see attached).  This Friday we will begin to put our issues on the table, elaborate our interests and begin working our way toward improvements on such things as Faculty Program Coordinators, workload equity, e-learning, the full-time: part-time faculty ratio, wages, etc.  Negotiations will occur nearly every Friday between now and early June. 

 

After a lengthy discussion of the benefits of observers, we came to agree that each team can have up to five observers at a time.  Administration expressed some concerns about disruptions to the process and comments being taken out of context; we asserted that we have the right to have observers, and we think it’s useful for members to see what is involved in the negotiations process and we want to be transparent – you can see for yourself the what, the why and the how of advocating for faculty working conditions.  Naturally, we want to ensure respect for all and the ability to focus on the task at hand; therefore, observers don’t participate in the discussion and spit wads are absolutely prohibited!  If you’d like to see the process in action, contact Tracy Furutani at tracy.furutani@seattlecolleges.edu to sign up for a slot – options include 9-12, 1-4 or 9-4.

 

Watch for weekly updates, wear a button and dialogue about what the button means:  Faculty Working Conditions ARE Student Learning Conditions, and please be sure to thank your colleagues who have stepped up to advocate on your behalf:  Ed Ciok, Dave Eberhardt, Tracy Furutani, Brian Holt, Karen Strickland and Robin Tartow as well as Alternates Nancy Adelson, Don Bissonnette, Kimberly McRae.

 

March 16, 2012

 

Greetings from your Negotiations Team,

 

Today was a good day.  The wild weather has cleared, as has our facility with the process we’re using for negotiations.  Big thanks to our observers:  Lorellen Nausner, Pam Lippert and Ralph Jenne from North Campus, L.J. Bothell from Central and John Guevarra, Retired.  We would like to see more of you next Friday, so please reply to me or send an email to tracy.furutani@yahoo.com to sign up.  You can join us from 9-12 or so, 12:30-4, or all day long; we are limited to five at a time, so please let us know ahead of time if you’re interested.  Observing helps give you an understanding of the process and the content of negotiations, and it’s a show of support for your team that we value and appreciate.

 

Both teams listed topics and we ordered them considering the complexity of the issue and the scope of research needed to adequately address it.  We began with Faculty Transfers, a relatively straightforward issue, and will most likely have a tentative agreement on that one next week.  The next few topics we’ll take on include the Instructional Calendar, Moonlighting, Weekly Workload, Priority Hire and E-learning.  Below you can see the nearly complete list of topics we will tackle in this negotiations (either side can bring additional topics next week.)  If something strikes you as intriguing (or merely important!) contact tracyfurutani@yahoo.com to help with research.  If you’re especially curious, you can go to the SBCTC website (sbctc.edu) and look at any of the community college contracts; it’s helpful to see what the working conditions of our colleagues around the state look like.  It may also be an effective antidote to insomnia.

 


Faculty


Administration


Compensation


Priority Hire


Sick leave, personal leave and FMLA


Peer Observers


Weekly workload


Weekly workload


Workload equity


Instructional calendar


Moonlighting


Operational efficiency


Faculty transfers


Online classes


E-learning


Budget development


Shared governance


Faculty evaluations


Faculty Program Coordinators


Selection of unit administrator


Full-time:Part-time ratio


Appendices, MOU’s & LOU’s

 

As always, if you have input or questions, please contact me or another of the team members:  Ed Ciok, Dave Eberhardt, Tracy Furutani, Brian Holt, Karen Strickland or Robin Tartow; alternates:  Nancy Adelson, Don Bissonnette, Kimberly McRae.

 

Negotiations Update – 041612

 

After finding common ground on several topics last week, I suppose you could say that we finally got into some rough terrain in negotiations Friday – Priority Hire, to be specific.  With earlier topics, such as the instructional calendar, faculty transfers and class caps, we were more easily able to turn out shared interests into meaningful contract language.  With priority hire, the divergence of interests became more apparent and the challenge of improving working conditions for part-time faculty more difficult to meet.  To summarize:

•       Instructional calendar:  Federal regulations changed several years ago, resulting in difficulty for students enrolled in Summer Quarter as they couldn’t receive financial aid until after July 1st. Additionally, starting a quarter the last week of the fiscal year created a significant workload for Payroll, Employee Services and division staff.  We have looked at the issue from all sides and concluded that the District’s proposal to start Summer Quarter on the first Monday in July is reasonable and has more benefits than costs. It will mean a longer break between Spring and Summer, and a shorter break between Summer and Fall; students will get off to a better start, having the means to buy books and pay expenses right away, and the staff workload will be reduced, enabling completion of other tasks in a more timely manner.  In the event our salaries go up, those
teaching in summer will see the increase for all of Summer Quarter, rather than earning the old rate the last few days of June and the increase taking effect July 1.

 

•       Faculty transfers:  We’ve found what we believe to be the best balance between the rights of tenured faculty who would like to transfer to a different campus and the needs of the department they wish to transfer to.  Rather than “applying” for the job, the faculty member will meet with the candidate selection committee to discuss their needs and interests, the minimal and preferred qualifications and the needs of the department.  The candidate selection committee will determine if the individual is a good match for the department. We are establishing an appeal process in cases where the process may not have been followed.

•       Class caps:  Our interest was to reinforce the process through which class caps are established in order to avoid arbitrary changes. Proposed language emphasizes that the Unit Administrator and Faculty
will collaborate and utilize the curriculum review process.

•       Priority Hire:  The District made a proposal regarding Article 10.7 - Priority hire. The proposal had new ideas about the eligibility period length and level of workload during that period.  Discussion of the proposal led to some additional matters: faculty role in the process, evaluation standards, and security. Our team is looking over the proposal and discussing our response. We will likely make a counter proposal."

 

We will be negotiating at North Campus in the President’s Boardroom on 4/20, and at South Campus in the President’s Boardroom on 4/27.  Please check in with Tracy Furutani if you’re interested in observing.

 

4/20/12

 

We’re negotiating at South Campus in the President’s Boardroom on 4/27 – please contact Tracy Furutani – tracyfurutani@yahoo.com -  if you’d like to observe.

 

One of the subjects we heard a lot about leading up to negotiations was moonlighting.  This is a practice that affects different groups of faculty differently and where balancing the rights and needs of all faculty is challenging, but imperative.  Concerns we heard included that when full-time faculty moonlight, there are fewer classes for part-time faculty; that departments with greater than average moonlighting suffer in terms of diversity of the faculty; that when an individual moonlights a lot it cuts down on their ability to fulfill nonteaching professional obligations, leaving holes for others to fill; and that full-time faculty need to be able to moonlight for a variety of reasons.

 

Moonlighting accounts for about 5% of courses taught.  That figure demonstrates that for the most part, full-time faculty are reasonable about their choice to moonlight, but there are some extremes and the contract language provides no clear criteria for the assignment of moonlights.  At the same time, we have lost ground in the effort to improve the ratio of full-time to part-time faculty.  We’ve come up with a step-by-step process that should help ensure access to moonlight assignments for full-time, promote diversity of our faculty pool, maximize the talents of our existing pool of faculty and create opportunities for temporary full-time positions.

 

We’ll be tackling E-Learning this week and on May 11th, and your input is welcome.  Our current language is woefully behind the times, so we will propose changes that reflect the current state of distance education.  Some of the interests we have include: defining “hybrid,” generalizing faculty rights in face-to-face classes to e-learning (such as intellectual property and academic freedom), and identifying and reinforcing working conditions which are subject to bargaining.

 

On April 26th, we will revisit PHL. The District has an interest in tightening up the evaluation process before PHL status is achieved.  AFT Seattle also feels that the evaluation process could be improved.  However, we do not see eye to eye on how to go about this.  We differ on what a good evaluation process would be.  First,  AFT Seattle seeks one that would be positive rather than punitive.  We also disagree on the level of workload that would make one eligible for PHL.

 

We aren’t bargaining on May 4th or May 18th, but we still need observers for sessions on 4/27 (at South Campus), 5/11, 5/18, 6/1 and 6/8.

 

May 18, 2012

It’s been a little while since I sent an update – I apologize for the delay and hope I can bring you up to speed with where we are in the negotiations process.  We had a difficult session on April 27th and mutually came to the conclusion with the administration that a shift to a positional approach to negotiations was preferred.  We have also decided that we can proceed effectively without the facilitator we were working with.  Our two sessions since making the shift have been productive and efficient.  We have also acknowledged that we won’t
finish negotiations before the end of the quarter, so we’ll extend our agreement, work through the summer and aim to hold information sessions and a ratification vote in Fall Quarter.

We are close to agreement on changes to Appendix I; we have accommodated the Administration’s request to integrate elearning provisions into the relevant article in the agreement.  The District’s position is that contract language should be the same, regardless of modality.  We disagree and are proposing a clear definition of eLearning along the lines of the SBCTC’s definition; for purposes of working conditions, the defining feature of an eLearning course is that by design, some portion of face-to-face contact has been displaced by an alternative modality.   They don’t see a need for making distinctions between modalities.  They want the 25 student cap lifted and class size the same across modalities; we believe workload is significantly greater in an eLearning course and are committed to maintaining the cap. 

There are two topics on which we need your input – Summer Quarter start date change and methods of quantifying non-instructional work.  I just sent a 1 question survey regarding delaying the start of Summer Quarter, 2013 to the first Monday in July due to federal financial aid regulations; we will send another survey to get input on a new way of thinking about workload, which has the potential of addressing workload inequity while more accurately capturing the non-instructional work that we do.  Please be sure to respond with input when you receive the requests.

At our next session on June 1st, we plan to tackle Article 5 (specifically, Leave) and begin discussion on compensation, along with workload equity.  We have sessions planned for 6/8 and 6/15, with a break on 6/22 and then back to the table on 6/29.  If you would like to observe for a half or whole day, please contact Tracy Furutani at tracyfurutani@yahoo.com.

 

June 11, 2012

 

Dear Faculty,

 

I wish you all the best as you wrap up the quarter.  I have an update on the last couple of weeks of negotiations as well as a request that, even if you’re not teaching, you check your email over the summer for news regarding negotiations.  We will most likely send a brief survey or two seeking your input so that we can make as much progress as possible over the summer, finalize language early in Fall, and have a ratification vote before or shortly after Thanksgiving.

 

A couple of details -

 

1.        The Executive Board voted to extend the contract until 12/31/12 to allow time to finish negotiations.

2.      We’ll negotiate every Friday From June 29th through August 17th and want to continue having observers at the sessions.  Please contact me at karen.strickland@seattlecolleges.edu to sign up.

 

Your input regarding the summer start date was helpful.  We had 121 votes supporting the change and 85 opposed.  The most common reasons given for supporting it were that it would benefit students and create a longer break after Spring Quarter; those opposing the change cited the preference for a longer break for travel, vacation and recuperation, as well as the difficulty of planning family time if the quarter ends too close to the start of K-12 schools.  We didn’t realize this would be as significant an issue as it is, so we are holding off on agreeing to anything until we look at the issue relative to gains we are seeking through negotiations.

 

We have not reached tentative agreement on anything in the last several weeks, primarily because the administration was unwilling to commit to anything until they see our compensation requests.  They also are less likely to agree to significant gains unless we are willing to remove the 25 student cap in online courses.  We will be sending a survey soon seeking information about online courses – please be sure to complete it if you have taught online.  Agreeing on a definition of an online class is still unsettled; we have backed away from our preferred definition, “by design, some portion of face-to-face contact has been displaced by an alternative modality” and have proposed instead a modification of the current language.  At present, an online class is a class in which the primary mode of contact is online, with no more than 3 hours face to face.  We are suggesting “no more than 10% of hours are face to face.”

 

I’m guessing compensation is the subject you’ve all been waiting to hear about.  We have several concrete proposals and we were looking at a way of re-conceptualizing workload to address a number of issues, i.e. workload equity, quantifying non-instructional duties and promoting compensation when part-time faculty take on non-instructional duties.  We referred to this as “load factors,” wherein non-instructional duties would be given a weighted value and contribute to workload that included both teaching and non-teaching work.  We had presented the concept (not a proposal) in negotiations and hoped to discuss it with you over the next six weeks before arriving at a proposal.  Given the Administration’s reluctance to commit to any tentative agreements without our compensation proposal on the table, however, we realized that we are better off focusing on more narrow compensation-related proposals so that we can move forward with other proposals as well.  We will continue to explore and invite your input into the value of and methods for quantifying non-instructional duties in the spirit of accurately capturing the value of committee work, student club advising, community outreach, professional development, etc.

 

We have presented a proposal to increase the stipend rate of $25 to $55, which matches the substitute rate.  We are considering ways of incrementally moving towards workload equity (reducing many 20-25 hour programs to 15) and we are looking for ways to improve part-time salaries.  Finally, we have proposed allocating future increment money in a way that will address disparities in salary that have resulted from raising the lowest salaries and providing the tenure raise to those tenured in 2004 and after.

 

The Administration has shared their interests related to faculty evaluation, which included an emphasis on an evaluation model that enhances instruction and learning for students, and which allows the district to be accountable for the funds and resources provided to faculty.  Their inclusion of mentoring in this discussion surprised us as we believe mentoring is most effective in a non-evaluative context.  They would like the money allocated for mentoring and peer observation to be used for other activities as well, such as student advising, and they would like to see more concrete outcomes as a result of peer observation.  They haven’t yet presented us with a proposal, but it is apparent that they see mentoring and peer observation as less valuable than we do and they would like faculty to provide evaluations of other faculty.  We’re in favor of effective, constructive evaluation procedures that promote professional development and we also would like to see consistency in evaluation across groups of faculty which are consistently applied.

 

Again, please watch for updates and surveys throughout Summer Quarter, and if you’d like to observe, please let me know.

 

July 13, 2012

 

Hello All,

 

Before I give you the update on issues and progress, I want to share an incident that speaks to the challenges that demand we all continue to be a strong voice representing our interests – remembering that our working conditions ARE our students learning conditions

 

The recession gave momentum to a destructive spurious correlation – that somehow, teachers and other public employees are, if not to blame for the crisis, then those who should subsidize its resolution.  This is an attitude we have seen demonstrated painfully in Wisconsin and in our own state in the form of the 3% cut for many state employees, along with rhetoric and opinion pieces.  Nonetheless, to say I was taken aback by what I heard a Trustee say yesterday at the Board of Trustees meeting is an understatement. 

 

He started out expressing his concern about additional tuition increases – a position I have expressed at previous meetings.  He then went on to point out the fact that employee salaries, and faculty salaries in particular, represent a huge portion of the district budget. 

 

Wait, what? 

 

Whatever his intention, you don’t have to be Karl Rove to recognize the effect of the district leadership discussing these two items in the same statement.  Regardless of its lack of veracity, when people in positions of influence make such statements, a public misperception – that tuition increases have risen in order to increase faculty salaries – is the result.  Tuition has increased to fill the hole left by the state’s disinvestment in public higher education!  Furthermore, tuition can’t be used for faculty salaries unless, as in the case of part-time pay equity several years back, the legislature specifies that allocation. 

 

It just so happens that earlier in the meeting, the Board had an executive session to discuss the district’s bargaining strategy; I’m sure they were made aware of our proposals to increase the stipend rate ($25/hr since 2003) for faculty program coordination and other non-instructional work, as well as our proposal to move toward workload equity for some 20 and 25 hour programs. 

 

Maybe it’s the case that this trustee simply had a variety of thoughts he wanted to express, and they happened to wind up in the same sentence together, accidentally implying a correlation.  It’s also possible that, in a very Karl Rove-esque manner, a spurious correlation is being encouraged in order to portray faculty as seeking our own gain at the expense of students.  Nothing we have said, done or proposed supports that as our position.

 

For the record, when each of our three colleges hired new presidents in 2010, two years into the recession, their salaries increased collectively by $101,500 compared with the outgoing presidents.  In that same year, faculty did not receive a COLA, full-time faculty who completed the EEPD received $16 (for the year!), and part-time faculty received no increase at all.  One must ask…from where did the money for those increases come? 

 

Other developments – both teams have put nearly all the proposals on the table (we have one more – evaluation of administrators – to write), so we can now get into the “horse trading.” 

·         The administration is proposing additional responsibilities, such as peer evaluations.  We countered with a meaningful evaluation process for each faculty group (e.g. non-priority hire part-time, tenured faculty, priority hire, etc) which promotes collegiality and professional development.

·         The administration would like to expand management rights by lessening the faculty role in selection of unit administrators and budget development. 

·         The have proposed an evaluation process for soft-funded full-time faculty that would lead to “permanent status,” similar to tenure.

 

·         AFT Seattle has proposed a way to more systematically assess faculty program coordinator needs as well as more clarity re: appropriate and inappropriate tasks.

·         We have proposed language to convert priority hire positions to full-time positions, as well as more readily establish temporary full-time assignments.

·         We want a process in place that provides faculty with greater input when programs are being considered for closure.

 

Thanks to those who completed the online course caps survey – we’ve had about 130 responses.  You can still respond if you haven’t already - Class Cap Survey – but please do so by noon on Tuesday.  If you haven’t taught online, we still want your input.  Check the “less than one year” box for length of time.  Also, the stipend we refer to is the stipend for faculty program coordination and other non-instructional duties.

 

I’ve attached previous updates in case you want to review them.  If you’d like to observe, we’d like to have you, so please contact ed.ciok@seattlecolleges.edu.  We will bargain on 7/27, 8/3, 8/10 and 8/17, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

 

Finally, I want to extend a huge thanks to the faculty who supported the team by coming to the session on the 6th either to observe or to be a physical presence in the lobby, reminding the administration of who it is we represent:  Tracy Lai, Olga Shatunova, Marcia Horton, Barry Robinson, Carol Hamilton, John Martinez, Deborah Higdon, Fran Kato, Sara Stapleton, Arnold Hammie and ???  I’m sure I’m missing a couple of people.  This week we had a terrific showing of observers – thank you to Michael Taylor, Ray Spizman, Karina Sternin, Mike Anitas and Richard Hawkins.  It’s beneficial for administration to see the faces of our faculty and to know that you are invested in  what goes on at the bargaining table.

 

In Solidarity,

 

Karen Strickland

AFT Seattle President

206-934-5478

1500 Harvard Ave.

Seattle, WA 98122

 

 

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 limited 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 tracyfurutani@yahoo.com to sign up.  Also, we’ll have information sessions on the campuses soon, so please plan to attend.