Negotiations Update, October 7, 2015

from Ed Degrauw and the negotiations team

In the last nine months, your negotiations team has made some significant changes to help our members. You’ve heard about those in previous updates. But as we moved into discussing the economic package in the last few weeks, we have hit a very serious roadblock.

Last week, the administration negotiating team told us that the board has directed them to give us a “bottom line offer” that is substantially worse than those they have presented to us in previous years.  Our negotiations teams have never sought to “break the bank.” As many of you know, in the worst years of the recession, we took (to give one example) a 0% cost of living increase to keep PCC fiscally sound, despite declines in state funding.

The next PCC Board meeting is on Monday October 26th at 7:30. You’ll want to know that information after you read the next few paragraphs.

This year’s offer?

  • A 1% COLA.
  • No money to support professional development for faculty and APs.
  • No money to support PT Faculty participation in the running of the college.
  • No new FT Faculty positions.
  • No new top step for APs, FT and PT faculty who have served the college the longest.

It’s a pretty shocking offer—especially given the college’s solid budgetary situation. For the 2015-2017 biennium community colleges have received the largest state funding increase ever.  Not only that, but PCC has over $29 million sitting in a reserve fund that must be spent by 2027. And the college’s ending fund balance for this year is at $17 million. The college is in the black by most every measure.

Why such a hardline offer? Over the next two years, the administration would like to increase the ending fund balance by almost $5 million, buy a million dollars worth of large equipment, and also reserve $4 million for some unnamed “strategic initiatives.” We received no answer about what those initiatives might be or whom they might benefit. The only really clear expenditure the administration team mentioned was a slight reduction in next year’s projected tuition. We support that, but really, none of these changes should be made on the back of our hard working faculty and APs.

Compared to their “Bottom Line Offer,” here’s what we believe we deserve, with some explanations below:

Issue Federation position Admin position
Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) ñ2.5% for FT Factuly & APs

ñ3% for PT

ñ 1% for FT & PT
Health insurance cap ñ 5% ñ 5%
Top Step for Faculty and APs Add new top step for APs, PT, and FT Faculty No new top step for anyone
Professional Development $500,000 per year for FT/PT faculty and APs  $0
Compensation for PT faculty for college work outside of teaching (committees, etc.) $500,000 per year $0
New FT faculty positions 100 new FT faculty positions 0 new FT faculty positions
Estimated total Cost to PCC* $21 Million $18 Million

COLA: We asked for a 3% COLA as we have lost ground in our buying power over the last several years. This would be a small move towards regaining some of that lost ground. We asked for 3.5% for PT faculty as an equity issue. This is critical in Portland today as many members see huge increases in rent, taxes, and other basic necessities.

Top Step: We asked for a new top step for our salary schedules, as 40% of our PT faculty, and 26% of our FT faculty and APs, are at the top step. Without a new top step, they would have no increase in salary beyond the COLA and no reward for their loyalty to the institution and our students.

Professional Development for PT Faculty and APs In many ways this helps both our members and our students. This line would cost just over 0.2% of the college’s total budget.

Pay for PT Faculty who perform non-instructional work. This was to allow PT faculty to be fairly compensated for work that many of them feel pressured to do if they ever want to get a FT position. It is also professional development, whether they are applying for FT positions here, and at other institutions.  Again, this would cost .2% of PCC’s budget.

New Positions. We asked for 100 new FT faculty positions so faculty could spend more time with students, which increases student success and retention.  This is a workload issue. As more and more teaching has gone to PT faculty, the remaining departmental and college work has been concentrated on a smaller and smaller percentage of FT faculty. This takes important faculty time away from our students.  Creating new FT faculty positions is also an opportunity for PT faculty who want to see a potential to move into FT positions. The cost? 100 new FT Faculty positions would cost between $1.7 million and $3.1 million a year. When you consider the increased hours for this person to now interact with and help assure student success and retention, this is the best bargain in town.

We think these are compelling arguments. These changes are good for the college and hardly expensive, as the chart shows. So, what can we do? We need your help to improve this “final offer.” Please show support for our students and for your fellow employees by coming to the next PCC Board meeting is on Monday October 26th at 7:30 at Sylvania Campus. There are opportunities to speak or to sit quietly. Either way, your presence will tell the board how you feel about this offer. We need you, your colleagues, your family, your students to show the board and the administration what you value. With your help, we can get this contract done soon.

Sincerely,

Ed DeGrauw (Lead Negotiator) and your Negotiations Team

Part-time PCC Instructors: Have you taken the survey on multi-year contracts?

Your federation negotiating team is asking part time instructors to give guidance as they work to craft a response to the latest counter proposal from the administration on multi-year contracts. The request for guidance from members comes in the form of a short survey which was sent out by email during in-service week. (If you did
not receive a link to the survey, please email: minoo.marashi@pccffap.org.)

The idea of a new form of job security for PT instructors has generated lots of conversation. Below please find a table of pros and cons that have emerged from those conversations, organized around the most controversial aspects of the offer. This is offered to help think through the complex issues and formulate your own response. (t is a summary only, and not a complete guide!)

Background: The administration counter-proposal is a far distance from the original vision put on the table. That original proposal was formulated by our negotiating team after extensive campus conversations with part time faculty in winter 2015. (Thank you to everyone who gave of your time to come to one of those meetings!)

But while this latest offer from the administration is far from our original federation plan, it has come closer than the earlier responses from the administration. It is close enough to make it HARD to tell exactly what is best to do. Different PT faculty looking it over have come to different conclusions about it. Is this close enough to meeting our member demands, or is it still too far from what we proposed?

Please remember that whatever our bargaining team decides, the ultimate power is in the hands of our membership. We need to vote to ratify (or to reject) any tentative agreement. But our bargainers need to find (if possible) the general trend in member thinking at this point, to decide what response to make as the negotiations wind down.

Also important: only active members will be able to vote on the contract. (If you are not sure if you are a member OR pay fair-share dues only, please dash off an email to: shirlee.geiger@pccffap.org. I will get right back to you about how your status is listed in PCC’s database.)

ISSUE ONE: How many?

Original Federation Proposal Federation Rationale Latest Administration Counter-proposal
  • 500 multi-year contracts
  • each contract for 3 years
  • guaranteeing annual 1.5 FTE
  • This guarantees health insurance coverage
  • Approximately 500 PT faculty have been assigned at least 1.5 FTE over the past 3 years
  • OUT OF approximately 1100 total PT instructors
  • Making them eligible for health insurance
  • 300 mult-year contracts
  • Each for 3 years
  • A pilot program

Pros:

  • Additional job security for 300 teachers is better than nothing…
  • This is significant movement from the first Administration response (a refusal to discuss it!!)

Cons:

  • 300 is not enough, given the number of PT faculty…
  • As a pilot, what guarantees do we have for PT faculty if we find (disastrous) unexpected consequences? There are no protections written in as this experiment unfolds.

ISSUE TWO: who is eligible to apply?

Original Federation Proposal Federation Rationale Latest Administration Counter-proposal
Contracts open to:

  • PT instructors
  • based on seniority
  • as determined by years teaching or assignment rights or….
Research is clear that instructors  are more effective when:

  • familiar with their college
  • known by their colleagues
  • experienced teaching to a particular student population
  • Only existing PT faculty eligible
  • After one year of  PCC employment
  • This assumes at least one evaluation

Pros:

  • This proposal does a bit to recognize and reward the added value of experience and seniority at the outset
  • Over time, those who initially get the contracts (if not already senior) will develop the experience and relationships that matter to student success

Cons:

  • Long-time instructors are more expensive than new faculty, so departments may have an incentive to hire newer faculty; lack of transparency in hiring decisions makes this risky business…..
  • The hiring process will be like that for temporary Full Time (article 3.64 of the contract) — is that transparent enough, or will administrators use this process to hire friends and favorites?

ISSUE THREE: In addition to or instead of assignment rights?

Original Federation Proposal Federation Rationale Latest Administration Counter-proposal
  • Maintain current assignment rights (ARs)
  • ARs guarantee one class per term
  • About 400 to 450 faculty have been approved for ARs
  • Assignment rights are less valuable—especially in times of declining enrollment.
  • Assignment rights are not sustainable — the enrollment won’t guarantee everyone one class in many departments
  • Assignment rights predate negotiated health insurance (and don’t guarantee access to it)
  • Assignment rights ended for depts with multi-year contracts
  • They remain in departments with no MYCs
  • Proposed: No loss of classes for performance issues (without a performance improvement plan)

Pros:

  • Since Assignment Rights offer a small and diminishing form of job security, it makes sense to “trade them away” for a system with more security
  • It makes sense to tie job security to health insurance benefits

Cons:

  • There is no guarantee that the instructors with assignment rights will be the ones with multi-year contracts
  • Given the lack of transparency in hiring and scheduling, why give away more discretion to hire and fire in the short term — even if it might result in more job security (for some) in the long term?

WILL MULTI-YEAR CONTRACTS INCREASE THE JOB INSECURITY OF THOSE PART-TIMERS WHO DON’T GET THEM?

Part of what is alarming is that no one can predict what exactly will happen in the roll out of a new program. However, the federation’s labor relations specialist has the run the numbers, and his opinion is that (apart from the lost sections due to decreased enrollment), new multi-year contracts will not likely cause additional displacement. The average teaching load of the approximately 500 PT teachers eligible for insurance has been over 2.20 fte — much higher than the guarantee of 1.5 annually for the new contracts. But having said that, this will play out differently in different departments and SACs. Have questions? Call or email Michael C in our federation office. (michael.cannarella@pccffap.org or 971-722-4178)

Other considerations:

  • If a pilot for multi-year contracts are included in the contract this year, and it is ratified by the membership, the federation negotiating team intends to work to increase the number offered over time. Of course, there are no guarantees a proposal to increase the number would be accepted, and no way to guarantee that seniority would be considered in awarding those contracts.
  • The federation has also proposed additional funding for professional development, with expanded eligibility for PT faculty, and more money to compensate PTers for service to the college not directly tied to classroom instruction — such as Program Review, SAC assessment projects, and college committee work.  If combined with a multi-year contract, this could make it possible for some “freeway fliers” to stay on a PCC campus, increasing their availability to students and allowing them to build professional relations with colleagues.
  • A separate bargaining item is a number of new FT positions to be added. Historically at PCC, FT positions are filled more often than not by PT instructors, so this is a separate route to job security for current PTers.

September Negotiations Update

At the last scheduled meeting of the full administration and federation bargaining teams, the major focus was on the Multi-Year Contracts for Part time faculty.

The most recent Administration Counter-Proposal:

  • 100 contract positions per year for each of the next three years
  • Total 300 contracted positions
  • 3 year term of contract, with expectation they would be renewed (a change from the earlier position that they would be renewable at the discretion of the Dean)
  • Elimination of assignment rights in those departments with multi-year contracts only — other departments continue to recognize Assignment Rights within restrictions created by declining enrollment.
  • Guarantee of 1.5 FTE to assure eligibility for health insurance.
  • All current PT faculty are eligible to apply after one year, and one complete assessment.

Federation counter to this latest administration counter-proposal:

  • 150 contract positions offered per year for each of  the next three years (total 450 contracted positions).
  • 3 year term of contract, automatically renewable absent any performance issues and the opportunity for improvement.
  • Maintain assignment rights as they currently exist in depts without multi-year contracts; in depts with the new contracts, any instructor at PCC longer than 3 years would be provided a performance improvement plan prior to not being scheduled to teach a class due to performance issues.
  • Guarantee of 1.5 FTE to assure eligibility for health insurance.
  • New faculty would be eligible after completing three years of assessments OR current faculty who have been teaching over three years OR current faculty who have assignment rights.

The conversation continues, but it seems unlikely the two sides can get much closer….. Members of the federation team are still talking about what makes sense as a next step.

Here are some of the points considered at the close of the negotiations meeting on 9/2 by our Federation negotiating team, along with the Federation members who have observed the meetings:

  1. It seems clear that a system with multi-year contracts is better than a system with assignment rights only. However, the administration refusal to add any eligibility criteria regarding seniority means that current long-time PCC PT instructors could be displaced — both because the administration insists on suspending assignment rights immediately in those departments with multi-year contracts AND because the multi-year contracts could go to brand new teachers who have been at PCC only one year.  A major piece of thinking behind the original proposal was that students benefit from faculty members being part of an educational community (knowing what resources are available, who their colleagues are, how to maneuver in the system to get student needs met.) Over time, people with the new contracts will gain that kind of background knowledge, but there is no contractual guarantee that the people who step in to the new positions will already have it.
  2. Administration bargainers appeal over and over to their goal of making sure the best teacher is assigned to each class offered at PCC. It is why they need flexibility, and consistently push away contract language that limits hiring and scheduling discretion of Dept Chairs and Division Deans. Specifically, the need for flexibility is the reason given by the administration negotiation team for rejecting the Federation proposal to restrict the eligibility for multi-year contracts to long-time PCC faculty. Shouldn’t we all be able to safely assume that long-time PCC part-time faculty are highly skilled, competent teachers — especially those who have been through the additional evaluations for assignment rights? No! say the administration bargainers. Just because someone has been here a long time, they said, does NOT mean they are effective instructors.This implies that current PCC hiring and scheduling practices leave ineffective teachers in classrooms year upon year. Hardly what one would expect from an institution that values “the best teacher in each classroom.” (One writer on contingent faculty issues says we should substitute the term “whimsibility” for “flexibility” when used by administrators. Instead of making sure the best teacher is in each classroom, the lack of transparency along with the enormous hiring and scheduling discretion around adjuncts means there is maximal distrust and suspicion in the majority faculty in Higher Ed today.)

It may be that Administration bargainers will accept the aspects of the original proposal that they have so far resisted – honoring assignment rights while we pilot a multi-year contract plan (or at least building in some employment guarantees for those assignment right instructors in departments with multi-year contracts) AND restricting those new contracts in some way via prior PCC service, making sure they go to people with the institutional familiarity that should be recognized and rewarded. At this point, there are no signals they are headed that way. This leaves our bargaining team trying to decide what to do……

Going into a new term without a contract  builds pressure all around. We will keep you posted.

Response to Survey on Our Top PT Bargaining Issue: Job Security

The Federation’s’ major request in bargaining this year for “part-time” instructors is that the work of these faculty members be normalized: those instructors who have been teaching enough to qualify for health insurance in the past three years should be offered a multi-year contract. Their supervisors have found their service to PCC students to be of a high quality, as demonstrated by their assignment to teach year upon year, so this service should not come with such constant and extreme financial anxiety.

The administration bargaining team came back with a counter-proposal, which was summarized earlier on this blog. The PT members of the negotiating team (Minoo Marashi and Corrinne Crawford) needed input from their PT colleagues to know how to proceed. So we sent out a survey– late in summer term. We were uncertain of how much interest or energy it would receive because of this bad timing. But we were delighted and surprised by the responses – 209 PT instructors took the time to give detailed feedback, sharing their experiences at PCC and spelling out their concerns with the counter-proposal.

(The federation represents all FT and PT instructors, along with Academic Professionals. PT faculty make up approximately 55% of the employees represented, but it is the group with the smallest percentage of active membership. So the 209 people who responded comprise approximately 1/3 of the active PT members — a response rate to be envied!!)

Here is some of what was said:

76% said they favored the multi-year contract idea, 15%  were unsure (and as careful academics, most wanted more information), and 9% expressed opposition.

Just under 50% expressed concern with the idea that the contracts could go to candidates not currently teaching at PCC.

An additional 20% listed their top concern as the administration refusal to consider seniority as any part of a formula for determining who gets the position. Put together, that is 70% who are expressing support for the aspect of the original proposal that got lost in the administration counter — that the multi-year contracts be used as a way of normalizing the work lives of people who have been serving PCC students year upon year, but always with the threat over their heads that the employment could just dry up — not because their work was inadequate or sub-standard, but for a host of mysterious, non-transparent, and suspicious reasons.

12% listed their top concern that the multi-year contracts were offered as a replacement for assignment rights. Not surprisingly, several people who listed this as their top concern mentioned the huge amount of energy and running-around they had dedicated to the goal of getting assignment rights. So they were loath to have them just disappear.

Here is a selection of comments from the survey:

  • I feel that with PT there should be seniority the same as FT and that we should be grandfathered into the multi-year contracts and not have to “apply” as many of us have been teaching for several years. I also feel that it should be all of us not a chosen few.
  • I need a clear path to a job secure position. I can’t stay a temp worker forever.
  • [What matters to me is] if my classes do not get enough students. The setting of class sizes at 20 puts a lot of pressure on PT faculty to promote, distribute fliers and contact former students to get people to take your class. The amount of money we gave the former president to leave could fund over 100 empty classes.
  • Although the federation’s initial goal was to provide security to part-time faculty, this counter proposal would in fact weaken my job security. I have taught for PCC for nearly seven years and I went through rigorous review to receive my assignment rights. This needs to be taken into account as they consider multi-year contracts, or else it is simply asking me to start the process all over again.
  • [What matters to me is the] lack of transparency by my administrators about decisions for classes.
  • It seems to me that the administration should have ample evidence what with assessments and student evaluations who on the faculty has proved themselves competent and deserving of a multi-year contract. Their position makes no sense as it would be much more expensive to interview all those potential part timers than to use the people who already teach there and know the students. It appears a very insulting suggestion. Personally, I probably won’t even be eligible for a multi-year contract because I don’t teach enough, but in solidarity I still want them to happen.
  • I’ve been here fifteen years. My seniority should count. I can provide history and experience to my colleagues, and continuity for my students. I’ve grown with them and for them over the years. I don’t want to lose my job to newcomers who look good on paper. I’ve been in the trenches, and I know my students and what’s going on here, on my campus, in my department, in my city.
  • Does a multi-year contract protect me or retain my health insurance if a class does not fill or some other condition that drops me below the FTE?

Minoo shared many of these comments with the full bargaining team, who have crafted a counter-proposal. The next bargaining session is 9/2. It is open, so if you would like to attend, contact Michael C by Monday 9/1 at 8:30 AM at : michael.cannarella@pccffap.org

And, finally, there were a lot of comments like the following:

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you are always doing to help our PT faculty.

We say: thanks for the thanks!!

A personal note from Shirlee:
We all know that PT faculty are treated with an incredible amount of disrespect. Our work is often invisible, we are left out of major initiatives, and most of us can recite a long list of insulting or demeaning comments we have overheard or had delivered to our faces. Minoo and Corrinne not only have to deal with their own, personal bad treatment, but they also hear the tales of distress from many, many PT colleagues. This is appropriate, as they need to know what is happening around the district in order to adequately represent PT interests. Still, I am amazed at their ability to stay positive and focused on the achievable, but small ways to make it possible for PT faculty to be more effective, in the face of the mountain of horror stories of bad treatment. I think all PT faculty at PCC owe a huge debt to those who have bargained over the years. As bad as it can be here, it is even harder to be an effective teacher in a “PT” role in many other institutions. 

It was lovely for me to see how many colleagues took the time to express gratitude to Minoo and Corrinne on this survey.

August Negotiations Update

August Negotiations Update

As described in the July update, our bargaining team was facing a proposal to table the top PT faculty bargaining issues — job security.

Background:

PCC has a large group of PT faculty who have been offered classes year after year, and who provide a critical mass of service to our students. Yet, unlike every other “regular” employee at PCC, instructors classified as “part time” have no guarantee of continued employment — regardless of how well we are doing our jobs.

On the basis of widespread input from PT faculty, our bargaining team proposed the creation of multi-year contracts for the approximately 500 adjunct faculty at the 1.5 FTE level (the minimum to be eligible for health insurance) over the last three years. This seemed to the negotiation team a straight-forward way to “normalize” the crucial service these faculty provide.

This seemed like a modest proposal, from our point of view, but it initially led to a bargaining impasse. Then, in response to the July negotiations update on this blog, our PT negotiating team members heard from lots of faculty. (Thank you!) A letter was sent from our federation Executive Council to faculty department chairs laying out the reasons for this request and asking for support. (The letter was drafted by a FT faculty supporter of adjunct colleagues — it is great to know we can count on our colleagues to support us.)

Contracts for PT Faculty
Perhaps in response to this pressure, the administration surprised us all by announcing that they were ready to consider multi-year contracts for PT faculty in the last bargaining session in July. However, they offered some significant changes from the proposal we made. Here is a table of contrasts:

Federation Proposal Administration Counter-Proposal
1)
eligibility
• Instructors eligible for multi-year contracts would be existing Part-Time PCC faculty • No guarantee that multi-year contracts go to existing PT faculty — use of an interview/ hiring process similar to current hiring of temporary FT
2)
addition or replacement?
• Multi-year contracts provide a form of job security, in addition to assignment rights • Assignment rights are phased out as multi-year contracts are phased in.
3)
seniority
• Some consideration of seniority in determining who is eligible for the new contracts • No weight to seniority
4)
how many? when? for how many years?
  • Multi-year contracts phased in over several years
  • Ultimately available to approximately 500 FT faculty who have been assigned classes, year after year (1.5 FTE)
  • Makes current status quo “official”
  • Helps PT faculty better serve students by reducing job uncertainty
• 100 2-year multi-year contracts, starting Fall 2016 (we are not clear if the 100 is all they are offering, or if that is just a start.)

Although the negotiating team (and observers) are glad to be talking about the top priority for PT instructors, we think there is a huge difference between what our members are demanding and the administration is currently offering.

We need your help. Please go to this short survey to let us know what you think about the administration counter-proposal.

SURVEY LINK for current “Part-time” PCC instructors:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1GTsY9a_GHFODqv1uXfMQP6Deg_VlgEl-YlW-GSN_-q8/viewform

SURVEY LINK for all others:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/14G77IFxzxkKgvnq6X4NHyWrMatPCqA5bDeys9681ybg/viewform?usp=send_form 

If you have additional thoughts that don’t fit well in the survey format, you are welcome to contact our PT bargaining team members — Minoo (minoo.marashi@pccffap.org) and Corrinne (corrinne.crawford@pccfap.org)

Please let us what you think about the terms of this offer from the administration bargaining team?

PCCFFAP: Together we can make a difference.

Negotiations Update July 2015

The two members for the negotiations team for “part-time” faculty are Minoo M and Corrinne C. Here is their report:

This is an update on what has happened in the conversations we’ve been a part of: meetings with the Federation bargaining team, the joint negotiations with the administration bargaining team, and the subcommittee on part-time faculty and workload issues. There have been additional conversations between Ed, our lead negotiator, and the lead negotiator for the administration team.

We have had much discussion of the job security issues faced by part-time faculty and of the proposal we presented: giving a significant portion of part-time faculty a multi-year contract that would guarantee a minimum 1.5 FTE each year, enough to qualify for health insurance benefits. At this point, our proposal does not have support from the administration.

There is currently a proposal on the table to send the multi-year contract idea to a committee to continue discussing it and to consider it again in a reopener in two years. This means that we would not achieve this goal in this year’s contract.

Our position (coming from the Vice Presidents who represent part-time faculty on the Federation Executive Council) is that

  • The current Assignment Rights system is valuable. We will continue to work toward an improved system that provides more job security for our members.
  • We have given the administration specific proposals to address their concerns about flexibility in administering the multi-year contracts.
  • We need to make progress on other proposals to increase job security for our members, such as a substantial payment for cancelled classes.

The concerns we have heard from the administration team that make them reluctant to accept the multi-year contract idea are that

  • It would hamper flexibility in dealing with declining enrollment.
  • It creates a bigger and more complex workload for deans and faculty department chairs, who would have to assess the current part-time faculty members (through some as-yet-to-be-determined process) to determine who would get these contracts, and that it would be more difficult for chairs to have to make these multi-year assignments.
  • They don’t know what the process would be to determine who gets these contracts.
  • They don’t know what to do about our current system of assignment rights and that it would be difficult to administer two different systems: multi-year contracts for some and assignment rights for those who don’t get the multi-year contracts.
  • This would create anxiety and morale problems among faculty and would disrupt relationships by creating “winners” and “losers,” since not everyone would have a multi-year contract.
  • Finally, it’s important to note that Ed has reported resistance from some department chairs (who are also members of our union) to this proposal.
  • This is where we need your support. We need to show the administration that we have many members who want more job security, not just for our benefit as employees, but also because it would allow us to better serve our students. Watch for emails from the Federation and from your campus coordinator regarding future events, such as attending bargaining sessions, board meetings, and rallies to show our solidarity. Talk to your part-time colleagues, and be sure they have signed a Federation membership form so they can receive our email updates and vote on the contract. If you want increased job security, you will need to step up, give some of your time and energy, and help us create the necessary pressure to enact changes that will benefit faculty, students, and the college as a community. Remember that the union isn’t a separate entity–it’s you and your colleagues, working together.

    If you have any questions or comments about this information, please contact one of us, your two part-time faculty representatives on the Federation bargaining team.

Corrinne Crawford, corrinne.crawford@pccffap.org
Minoo Marashi, minoo.marashi@pccffap.org

Bargaining Issues for Job-Insecure Faculty

We asked and you answered! PCCFFAP executive council officers sent out surveys to our members, and then held an unprecedented number of campus meetings, inviting ideas for what needs to change at PCC for instructors and academic professionals to effectively meet the new challenges we face in providing quality education for all our students. Members and fair-share participants stepped up, and took time away from busy, busy lives to provide thoughtful responses to our questions. Then our two part-time bargaining team members sorted through the many responses and thought about what had been said  — and then thought and sorted some more — to come up with a prioritized list of bargaining issues. Here is what we have submitted to the administration bargaining representatives. They are sensible, and focused on what is best for our students. Thank you to all who contributed to the process.

Bargaining 2015 Issue 1: Job security Job security is by far the #1 issue for PT faculty at PCC, supported by data from federation surveys, campus membership meetings, f2f and email correspondence. Possible remedies

  • Annual contract for 50% or more of the faculty who teach 50% or more for 3 or 4 terms in an academic calendar.
  • Establishment of a seniority system to prioritize class assignments–possibly in tiers, such as Steps 7-9, Steps 4-6, Steps 1-3.
  • Clarity and consistency across the district about enrollment needed to avoid cancellation.
  • Compensation “kill fee” for cancelled classes in the amount of 10% of the cost of the cancelled class if the class is cancelled the week before the term begins and 25% if the class is cancelled during the first week.
  • When classes must be cancelled, sections assigned to Assignment Rights faculty should be cancelled last.
  • Bumping should be used as a last resort, instead a different formula like a three-term average or annual FTE should be used for FT faculty.
  • If enough classes are not offered by a department to meet the FTE required for Assignment Rights faculty to maintain eligibility for health insurance, the faculty members should be able to use non-instructional assignments to fulfill that requirement.
  • Make assignment rights transferrable district wide, rather than requiring additional time to qualify at a new campus.
  • Stronger language to clarify an actual annual assignment must be offered when an Assignment Rights faculty requests an annual assignment.
  • District wide Assignment Rights for part-time librarians.
  • Replace “assignment rights” and “annual assignment” with less confusing terms.

Issue 2: Career path We acknowledge that some PT faculty are interested in and working toward becoming full time, so they are involved in many activities beyond instruction. The following measures would recognize their efforts and create a clearer path to full-time work with PCC. Possible remedies

  • We need full transparency in the hiring process. Many part time faculty who were rejected for various vacancies reported being given brush offs from Human Resources claiming they were not qualified, while they were on paper.
  • PT faculty should receive credit for non-instructional services like committee work, advising, course development, etc. when being considered for FT positions.
  • Preferential consideration of part-time faculty for full-time positions.
  • Create a clear, consistent, and deliberate process for hiring part-timers across the district, like that used for hiring full-time faculty. This would provide opportunity to improve the diversity of part-time faculty, which would then allow PCC to hire from among current part-time faculty when filling full-time positions.
  • Create more full-time job share positions for current part-timers who don’t wish to work full time but would like to be involved in (compensated) college service.
  • TLC coordinators should become half time faculty positions.

Issue 3: Compensation for non-instructional services PT faculty regularly volunteer or are sought out to perform non-instructional tasks with little to no compensation. We are asking for compensation, according to Appendix D, for PT faculty participating in

  • Committee work
  • Program review
  • SAC projects focused on assessment of student learning
  • Governance
  • Department and SAC meetings
  • Faculty Orientation for new PTs
  • Proctoring accommodated exams when DS services not available
  • Mentoring of newly hired faculty, both PT and FT

Create a pay scale for compensation for non-instructional service to the college, so that more experienced instructors receive more compensation for their participation. This could be based on our current step system.

Issue 4: Compensation for teaching Many part-time faculty find that if they log the hours they spend on their teaching-related duties, including preparation, grading, and student contact, they are earning little more than (and sometimes less than) minimum wage. Possible remedies

  • Additional steps for part-time faculty to be aligned with the 17 steps for FT faculty and APs. Why fewer steps than full-time faculty?
  • Move part-time faculty closer to equity with full-time faculty in their pay per class.
  • Compensate instructors for developing new courses that are hybrid and face-to-face.
  • Compensation for faculty who have to accommodate several students with disabilities in a given term

Issue 4.5: Improvement of benefits The current benefits offered to part-time faculty seem to reinforce the faculty caste system, often with no apparent logical reason for the difference. Possible remedies

  • Part-time faculty participation in Health Savings Accounts
  • Incentive for part-time faculty who are eligible for health insurance but opt out–the same percentage of the waiver incentive for full-time faculty as the percentage part-timers receive of the cap for full-time health insurance. Every PT faculty opting out of healthcare coverage is a savings to the college just like any FT faculty or AP.
  • Part-timers should be able to accrue sick leave as they were several contracts ago.
  • Part-timers should be able to donate sick leave to colleagues.
  • Subsidy for dental insurance.
  • Ability to accrue tuition waiver to use at a later time.

Issue 5: Transparency and accountability of administration Because many of our part-time faculty have endured financial hardship and major inconvenience due to errors beyond their control, it is especially important that records should be transparent, accurate, and reliable. This will allow faculty to proactively monitor pay information and alert the necessary parties if errors are found. Possible remedies

  • Clear and readable paychecks.
  • FAN at beginning of the term should include, in addition to employee’s step and Assignment Rights status, a list of pay dates and amounts of each paycheck.
  • The job information under Earnings in online paycheck info should include the appropriate academic term.
  • Accountability for deans to conduct Assignment Rights assessment, and submit Assignment Rights paperwork to HR in a timely manner.
  • Accountability for HR keeping accurate records of Assignment Rights, with clear information on a faculty member’s status available on the FAN each term and on the MyPCC employee tab.
  • Online timesheets for employees doing multiple jobs.
  • Finding a solution for the 2-3 pay periods when the PT faculty do not get paid.

Issue 6: Parking and transportation PCC relies on part-time faculty to teach most of the classes offered. This system puts a unique transportation burden on part-time faculty, who must travel to and from other jobs, and who must transport with them all their teaching-related materials. Many faculty members struggle to find parking when they arrive on campus, resulting in several negative consequences: being late for class or appointments with students, having to leave during class breaks to move their cars, receiving a parking ticket for illegally parking in order to get to class, and even department chairs having to act as valet parking for part-timers. These burdens are not beneficial to faculty or to students. Possible remedies

  • Equality of parking situation at each campus: SE has no staff parking.
  • Part-time faculty, like all the other employees, should be able to buy pre-tax annual and term parking permits online.
  • Designated parking area for part-time faculty only on each campus to allow for those who must come and go at various times of the day.
  • Subsidized Tri-met passes for employees to decrease parking problems.

Issue 7: Evaluation Part-time faculty perform the same teaching work as full-time faculty yet are evaluated in a different way, which threatens the job security of excellent instructors. Possible remedies

  • Eliminate online evaluations.
  • Eliminate the ability of supervisors to use student evaluations alone (either the results or the completion rate) as a basis for not offering future classes to part-time faculty.
  • Part-time faculty should be evaluated on the same schedule and criteria as full-time faculty.
  • Part-timers employed at more than one campus should not have to be evaluated at each campus.
  • Part time faculty should participate in evaluation of Faculty Department Chairs.

Issue 8: “Primary” job issue Some employees work more than one part-time job at PCC and are then denied the benefits to which their full amount of work entitles them.

  • Employees with two or more part time jobs at PCC should be entitled for benefits from all their jobs.

Issue 9: Work space Although part-time instructors teach most of the classes at PCC, their work space situation is not equivalent to that provided for full-time faculty. This interferes with their ability to provide equal services to students. To allow all faculty to perform their duties, we are asking for

  • Guaranteed assigned office space to allow part-time faculty to work on campus, hold office hours and required conferences.
  • Guaranteed storage space for storing the student work that faculty are required to keep after the term ends.

Issue 10: Professional development Part-time faculty can enhance student learning by continuing to improve their knowledge of best practices. The following will provide these opportunities:

  • Consistent TLC professional development funds available to part-time faculty across the district.
  • Subsidize tuition for work-related courses at other institutions.

Issue 11: 9-week summer session at Cascade is inconsistent with the rest of the district and creates a multitude of issues for both students and faculty. House cleaning

  • Extension of one term workload exception
  • Replace “assignment rights” and “annual assignment” with less confusing terms.
  • IPR template — a dean asked me if we have one.

Notes In the spirit of unity and equity, all new benefits bargained during the new contract should apply to PT faculty as well. Many of the issues listed above have been raised by the Federation in previous negotiations over the years. More recently, Project ACCEPT has developed a comprehensive report on the working conditions of the majority of PCC faculty, which raises many of the same concerns and suggests several of the same remedies as we have found in gathering data from our Federation members and from contracts in force at other institutions. We acknowledge with appreciation the work of our colleagues from Project ACCEPT who brought new attention to these long-term challenges. Information request from HR The percentage of PT faculty who teach greater than or equal to 50% during 3 of the 4 terms in the academic year.

Project ACCEPT: A dream deferred—but not for long

This past Wednesday, February 25, 2015 was National Adjunct Walkout Day, a day for contingent faculty across the country to walk out of class to increase awareness of the plight of part-time college instructors across the country. PCCFFAP asked its members not to walk out; instead we and sympathetic PCC employees wore buttons and stickers with “76%” on it to show support for the 76% of PCC instructors who are part-timers.

On that same day, PCC’s Project ACCEPT was scheduled to deliver their report to the EAC, after many months of discussion and deliberation, for approval and forwarding to PCC President Jeremy Brown.

Instead, Chris Chairsell, PCC’s Vice President of Student and Academic Affairs, announced moments before the meeting that PCC’s lawyers had examined the report and decided that the EAC should not vote to put the report on Dr. Brown’s desk while contract negotiations were ongoing.

Coincidentally, those negotiations had just begun the previous Friday.

Additionally, she forbade all PCC managers (which included many at the EAC meeting) from not only voting on the matter but also discussing the issues at all. Some hesitant dialogue about the report—but not its contents—ensued, including several who stated their support of adjuncts and the work of Project ACCEPT. Then, the EAC voted to table the report until the end of contract negotiations. In the meantime, it will remain on the Action Item section of the agenda for each meeting so that it is clear that the report would not be forgotten.

PCC’s lawyers had examined the report many times. In addition, Chairsell had been involved with the drafting of the report, affecting its final language and shape; several recommendations were rephrased as “findings,” and language was inserted in order to avoid any appearance of bargaining outside of contract negotiations.

She could have brought this particular issue up many times, either in her private discussions with Project ACCEPT or in the EAC meetings during which the Project’s report was discussed. Her move was timed to be dramatic and surprising, and it certainly involved a generous reading of labor law surrounding this matter.

The timing was also ironic for PCC’s part-time instructors, since it came on Adjunct Walkout Day. On the same day that PCC’s part-time instructors showed their support for PCC by not walking out of our classes, the PCC administration reciprocated by blocking progress towards greater inclusion and acceptance of the adjuncts who represent the majority of their faculty.

We, the part-timers, offered reconciliation and support; the administration offered obstruction and silence.

While it’s easy to get discouraged by the news that the report will be deferred, it’s also clear that Chairsell and the administration are concerned that the EAC will vote to support this report, which would force the administration to take action on adjunct matters—or to at least acknowledge that PCC isn’t helping the majority of its faculty, and the students whom we teach, succeed.

PCC, it should be noted, treats its part-timers better than comparable institutions in the Portland area. (And, yes, that’s thanks to the efforts of PCCFFAP in contract negotiations). Our pay is better, and the benefits are easier to obtain, but more can be done, particularly in the area of job security.

Even assignment rights, our only assurance of ongoing job security, only guarantee us one class per quarter on a rolling basis, and that class can still be cancelled, or we can still be told “We have no classes for you” with little notice at all. One-year or two-year contracts would be a great step in the direction of job security and increased respect.

Whenever contract negotiations are concluded, the report will be again brought up for a vote. Indications are that it will be approved and forwarded on to Dr. Brown, who will then have to act on its recommendations—or explain why he cannot.

In the meantime, there’s plenty you can still do about adjunct issues. Come to EAC meetings to voice your support for Project ACCEPT or for adjunct instructors, or speak at PCC board meetings about adjunct rights.

Most importantly, if you’re a part-time instructor at PCC, be sure that you’ve joined PCCFFAP. Your voice and vote are always vital, but they are never more important than during contract negotiations—which are happening right now. Even though PCCFFAP always represents every member of the faculty, its power is magnified when it has more members.

In the case of adjuncts, low membership numbers diminishes your federation’s power at the bargaining table. When PCCFFAP tries to put forward a proposal that might benefit part-time faculty, the administration can just point to low PCCFFAP membership numbers for part-timers and say, “What do you know about part-timers? They are saying you don’t represent them.”

So increase awareness of the plight of adjuncts however you wish—speak to your students, your colleagues, to the administration—but please join us at PCCFFAP, your federation. Your voice matters.