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

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