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.

8 thoughts on “September Negotiations Update”

  1. I think it is really important that whatever the union finally agrees to, it not leave long-term part-time teachers worse off than they are now. Getting rid of assignment rights in return for a small number of long term contracts will do just that.

    Bad teachers should never have earned assignment rights; this sounds more like a way to get rid of expensive teachers (those who have been here long enough to be at or near the top of the pay scale). This is much like the policy of opening full-time positions for external recruitment rather than offering those jobs in-house.
    Gay Monteverde

    1. Thanks, Gay. Minoo and Corrinne have been consistent voices for the key ideas you express: assignment rights indicate an instructor has both been at PCC a while AND has been carefully vetted for effectiveness. If the adminitiation agreed to 450 multi year contracts, it is likely they would go to many or most of the nearly 500 PT instructors whose positions the Federation was trying to “normalize.” But it would be nice to have a guarantee via contract language.

  2. I would like to echo Gay in saying; “I think it is really important that whatever the union finally agrees to, it not leave long-term part-time teachers worse off than they are now.” Pam Sellers

    1. Thanks, Pam. It helps to have these comments. After all, the membership has to ratify any new contract — and it helps to be able to point to indicators of what the people are thinking who will do the voting!

  3. I’ve heard the “flexibility” argument so many times, I can almost predict when it will be used before administration opens their mouths. I’m thinking it’s mostly about flexibility (primarily capricious decision making) and cost cutting (hiring cheaper PT faculty). I hope I’m wrong.
    An essential issue is qualifications of PT faculty. There are many things that truly effect qualifications, degrees/course work, experience, evaluations, assignment rights earned, retention rates, etc. If the college doesn’t like our definition of qualifications, let them propose their own well-defined version. If they resist, their argument is suspect. If they do come up with something, be prepared with studies supporting our view.
    I’d also resist ending assignment rights by department. This right was individually earned through experience and good evaluations, it should be replaced with multi-year contracts individually, not used as a ploy to end assignment rights for as many as they can.
    Thanks for reading my rant. 🙂

  4. Thank you, negotiators, for continuing this hard work on our behalf. I, like others who have responded, would like to make sure that long-term part-time instructors are protected, not put in a defensive, denigrated position. I have been evaluated multiple times to get my assignment rights; twice in one department on the same campus, and once in a “sister” department. In other words, I worked hard for those assignment rights, such as they are. A multi-year contract should simply mean that a well-qualified, experienced instructor should have assurance of employment for a few years. How can that be too much to ask? When I applied for a full-time position in my department five years ago (after a two year temporary gig), the job description was clearly written with me in mind; the skill set was a perfect match to mine. Although I was a finalist, I didn’t get that job, and as much as I love my “newish” colleague, I have always thought that caprice, not common sense, had a part to play in that hire. Or, maybe they could see that I was getting older, or maybe they don’t like Jews. It seemed so random! Couple that with the fact that no one could tell me why I wasn’t hired, although they’ve kept me on as an adjunct, and I am forced to believe that there must have been some hidden agenda in place. Thanks for letting me rant, once again. Power to the Union!

  5. As someone who has been following these negotiations carefully, I was pretty distraught to see the administration counter with one year’s employment at PCC as the prerequisite. This measure of job security should be extended to part-timers who have demonstrated strong commitment to the college not as a means to recruit whatever new flavor of hire the administration seems tempted by. Given the long tenure of so many part-time instructors, I hardly think three years’ service to the college would restrict administration but does indicate, to me, that the administration is not respectful of the service of so, so many dedicated part-timers at PCC.

    I have been thinking about these multi-year contracts for some time, and as I continue to reflect, I think the disruption is important. If the MYCs create more visible discontent among part-timers, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. At one of the contract negotiations, an administrator breezily stated that “part-timers are used to the status quo,” so, while she knows that part-timers aren’t happy with their current situation, it felt like a “Devil you know” scenario. I think we need change–imperfect as it may be–we’ve got to start disrupting that status quo!

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