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Negotiations Update March 22, 2013

From Karen Strickland:

Hello Colleagues – thank you for tuning in.

I want to give you an update on where we are with negotiations, clarify some of the details of our proposal, and share our next steps.

After more than a year and thousands of hours invested in the negotiations process, we are going to mediation with the administration on April 5th.  Each team has presented a final, best offer and the gap on a few of the proposals is rather large…we agreed that an objective third party would help us bridge the gap.  Our biggest economic differences relate to workload equity and the stipend rate, and we have yet to come to agreement on some changes to priority hire.  The administration would like to expand why a person might be removed from the priority hire list, and we want to reinforce and clarify the rights conferred by priority hire.

I’ve heard that there is misunderstanding about our workload equity proposal, so I want to clarify that.  The administration had proposed that ABE/ESL full-time faculty would have a 15 hour workload, and part-time would have a 20 hour load.  We rejected that proposal because it would create yet another form of disparity amongst faculty.  Furthermore, we discovered a law that suggests it’s probably illegal to establish different workloads within a discipline.  So no worries – we are not agreeing to anything that creates disparate workloads between part and full-time faculty.

I know that there has been confusion about the online class cap as well.  We have agreed to an increase to 30, contingent on other economic gains.  What this means is that if a face to face class has a cap of 30 or more, the online class will be capped at 30.  If the face to face is less than 30, the online class will match it.  Hybrids will remain the same as it currently is, with a class cap that matches the face to face class.

I’d like to remind you why we have rejected the district’s proposal to create an opt-in advising program.  For one thing, faculty are already advising students – we know that our interactions with students outside the classroom contributes to their success, and we connect with them on many levels toward this end.  This is not new.

We believe that formalizing faculty advising as presented by the administration will not achieve the goals they think will be achieved.  We have spoken with colleagues at other colleges, who have not spoken positively about formalized faculty advising.  They have encountered numerous shortcomings which seem predictable for us as well. 

We also believe that the district’s proposal will increase the disparity between faculty groups, since faculty with lesser workloads, i.e. academic transfer, have more time to use for advising while those with higher workloads, i.e. professional-technical and ABE/ESL, don’t.

Many thanks to those of you who completed the recent survey – you have given us a clear message – that you are ready to contact the administration, work to rule, and do informational picketing on your campuses.  We are hopeful that mediation will go well… and we realize that we may need to call on your to demonstrate your interest in a contract you can feel good about voting for.  

I also want to thank all of you who have observed, rallied, attended Board of Trustees (BOT) meetings, spoken at BOT meetings, talked with each other and spoken to your deans.  Larry Silverman spoke at the most recent BOT meeting. Here’s what he said:

My name is  Larry Silverman and I teach at Seattle Central.  I also serve on the AFT Seattle Executive Board.

First of all I want to thank the Board of Trustees for their service to the people of Washington.  The governor who appointed you entrusted you with the responsibility to lead this community college district, help set policies to improve the institution, and collaborate with all constituent groups—students, classified staff, administrators and faculty.

Today you had a chance to meet newly tenured faculty.  I urge you to visit each campus—if you have not already done so—to meet the dedicated part-timers, full-timers, academic and professional-tech faculty, counselors and librarians who are the core—the essence--of this district.

In your role as leaders of this district you now have a test.  Tests happen in educational settings.  This test will measure your ability to encourage the administration bargaining team, the chancellor, and the chancellor’s cabinet to reach a new contract with AFT Seattle, the faculty union.  This contract would embody respect for faculty and would reward us for our dedication and commitment to the colleges and its students.

As trustees in the district you are new to the faculty-administration collective bargaining arrangement.  This is your first protracted round of negotiations—is it not?  Welcome to our world!

Perhaps you have had experience in your day jobs—at Seattle City Light, the Port Commission—or other organizations—where you had to negotiate with a union representing workers.  I hope that was a positive experience for you.  If not, this will be your positive collective bargaining experience.

Please help us reach a settlement as soon as possible.  We have been negotiating for over a year and now a mediator will join the deliberations.  Take an active role in promoting a contract we as teachers and this district as a whole can be proud of.

Don’t punish us. Don’t scapegoat us.  The stakes are too high and consequences too dire if you fail to live up to your responsibilities.  Please remember to represent the entire district, not just the administrative point of view.

Let’s negotiate in good faith and come up with a contract.

Thank you.

Karen Strickland

AFT Seattle President

206-934-5478

Negotiations Update

Karen Strickland, President of Seattle Local 1789, delivers an update on the progress of contract negotiations October 2012.