“We’re pleased that this difficult situation is coming to a close,” Hansen said in a news release. “In the end, it really is about helping the college to grow and achieve its mission on behalf of students. We’re a very high quality faculty and we want to keep it that way. And while we’re disappointed that it took this long, we appreciate the college’s willingness to keep trying and working to reach a fair agreement.”
COD’s board voted 4-3 on May 10 to impose a contract — characterized by college officials as their “best and final offer” — on the 295-member faculty union. That agreement was set to officially take effect Monday, with Tuesday being the first day of summer classes at the state’s largest community college. Union officials at the time said they would work under terms of the contract, while they would evaluate their legal options.
But they also urged administrators back to the bargaining table.
Hansen said as a result of discussions Thursday and Friday, the administration’s bargaining team agreed to “improvements” on their “best and final offer.”
One major sticking point had been a proposed change in the contract that Hansen said would have required faculty members to give up their right to bargain for future changes to their health insurance plans.
The administration also proposed increases in the amount of instruction time for faculty who teach lab or studio classes, such as art, photography, automotive and chemistry. COD officials argued the demands on a professor teaching a lab class were not the same as one who teaches a lecture class.
Hansen said both sides finally reached an agreement on those issues.
“The increase workload for labs and the elimination of our right to bargain over insurance were major concerns for our membership that we had to work through in a manner that ensured equity and fairness,” Hansen said. “We believe we accomplished that.””
College of DuPage faculty members voted Friday on a contract that the school’s board of trustees imposed on them the night before.
While the results won’t be known for at least 10 days because of absentee voting, the union representing the 295 full-time employees is predicting the pact will be rejected by its membership.
“In a straw poll of 80 percent of our faculty, 92 percent said ‘No way,’” Glenn Hansen, president of the College of DuPage Faculty Association, said.
Also on Friday, union representatives met with lawyers to see if there’s a legal way to force the college back to the negotiating table.
“We don’t believe we’re at impasse,” Hansen said. “They (board members) declared it.”
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The move further deteriorates the relationship between the college’s administration and about 295 full-time faculty members, said union President Glenn Hansen. He said the union is looking at options.
The union can file a complaint of unfair labor practices with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, which could lead to a judge forcing both parties back to the bargaining table, John Brosnan, a spokesman for the Educational Labor Relations Board, said Friday.
While the contract includes pay raises, it also scales back benefits, cuts pay for summer teaching and requires teachers who lead labs or clinics to work more than those who lecture. Hansen said the college’s team also wants to strike the union’s right to negotiate its health benefits. That issue is one of 19 the faculty’s team and administration have not agreed on.
That is the 19 issues on which the Breuder administration is demanding dramatic concessions. This is not negotiating.
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But whatever the motives are for his course of action, his school is in crisis, caught between antiquated concepts on one side, and a faculty that wants to learn, engage, and move forward in the 21st century on the other.
Hope remains that the COD trustees can step in the way of Breuder’s destructive path. Three of them, for example, recently voted against his posting of anti faculty propaganda on the school’s website.
But it will require courage on the part of at least one of the other four to join those three to put the brakes on Breuder’s wayward, runaway train.”
Faculty Association President Glenn Hansen said that he was disappointed in the college’s position.
“At the end of this long session, they gave out what was obviously a prepared proposal,” Hansen said of the offer made by the college at the end of the Friday mediation session. “They had this all planned out.”
Hansen went on to say that there was a small amount of movement in two of the main sticking points between the parties, summer school salary and salary for non-traditional methods of teaching.
But he said the college was being misleading about the salary issue, claiming that the four-year offer amounts to an increase of 3.42 percent. He said that the average over four years is closer to 1 percent per year.
Moreover, Hansen said the college wanted to reserve the right to change member’s benefits based solely on financial reasons, but without negotiations.
Hansen downplayed the possibility of a faculty walkout, saying that teachers would continue to work without a contract.
“There’s nothing that would force us to go on strike,” he said.”
Friday, after a 3.5 hour mediation session the Board team presented the CODFA team with a so-called “best and final” offer that reflected very little evidence of movement or compromise. Some of the proposals and language in the final offer have remained unchanged since July 2011. The board team showed no intent to negotiate at yesterday’s mediation session.
Money has not been the most significant issue for faculty this negotiation; the board is attempting a public relations smoke screen to make it appear that way. The administration continues to talk about money and to provide misleading information in regards to those issues. For example, over 100 faculty members will see a salary increase closer to 4.5% total over the 4 years of the contract, not the 3.4% per year reported by the administration. Regardless of the percentage, there are significant reductions in overload pay, availability of overloads, summer compensation, and insurance premiums negating any increase. This results in a pay reduction no other group has been subjected to at COD.
Faculty are most deeply concerned about the board’s effort to restrict our legally guaranteed bargaining rights for insurance, and the administration’s effort to take the control of the curriculum away from the faculty. The proposals and public comments made by the administration show a lack of understanding and appreciation for different delivery methods; structures that are dictated by accreditation and articulation standards. Any impact on curriculum affects students and therefore the primary mission of the College. Language changes to the contract section on responsibilities and duties of faculty have inserted more administrative influence into the curriculum process, including the possibility to outsource the curriculum under certain conditions.
Administrator control of the curriculum is problematic because most administrators lack the curricular expertise necessary to drive the curriculum. Many have had very limited teaching experience or none at all, some have been brought in solely for the business experience. At the discipline level there is also a dramatic reduction in the amount of time given to Coordinators and Department Chairs to direct the discipline or career program. These faculty members are the experts that are needed to create a successful educational experience for students. Curriculum cannot be profit-driven, it must be developed to serve the students and community. Only the discipline experts can create good curriculum.
The board’s proposed changes to workload and summer pay would change how credit is calculated and reduce the amount of access students have to full time faculty. This doesn’t benefit anyone, especially students. Additionally to date, as a result of this negotiations and the impact on the climate at COD, 55 faculty members have announce their retirement before 2015. That is a tremendous loss to the community. Many are leaving and accepting penalties on the pensions rather than continue to teach at COD.
The faculty will have an off campus meeting on May 8th to present and discuss the offer. Any decision on the offer and next steps will involve full faculty input. The administration is taking the unprecedented step of presenting the offer directly to the faculty in a series of presentations on campus, we do not know if questions will be allowed. The announcement to have these meetings is an attempt to circumvent the Association and we are very concerned about how the information will be presented.
The Board of Trustees has announced that they will approve the contract on May 10th. That date does not allow time for faculty to review the offer and vote before the Board’s approval. With this turn of events taking place during the week of final exams, it is possible we will not even hold a vote before the end of term. As a note to all students and their families, we have no intention of a job action that would interfere with Commencement, a very important night for students and the faculty.
College of DuPage student journalists filed a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s office alleging the college’s board of trustees violated the state’s open meetings law.
The attorney general’s office is reviewing the complaint, brought by the Courier’s outgoing Editor in Chief, Nick Davison. Davison said campus police would not allow him or other newspaper staff members into the board’s March 15 meeting.
“I don’t really know why they’re doing it,” he said. “I just know that for the sake of the public it needs to stop.”
The full article is here.