Bargaining FAQ

What is collective bargaining?

Collective bargaining is the formal process of negotiation between PCC administration and PCC Federation of Faculty and Academic Professionals (PCCFFAP). It sets the terms and conditions of our work, including pay and benefits. Collective bargaining results in a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), also known as the Faculty and Academic Professional Agreement, frequently referred to simply as “the contract.”

The contract is a legally binding agreement that lays out policies agreed to by PCC administration and PCCFFAP. If you peruse the table of contents, you’ll see that it also includes provisions addressing compensation, benefits, absences and leaves, intellectual property rights, and even parking! The contract also outlines the grievance procedure—a process for resolving disputes between management and PCCFFAP members over interpretation of the contract and in the event of employee discipline or termination.

Why is collective bargaining important for PCCFFAP members?

Most PCC employees do not have the knowledge, skills, or time—let alone the power—to negotiate the terms of their employment beyond the initial salary placement, especially when state legislatures in Oregon and throughout the country are trying to balance their budgets on the backs of public employees. Collective bargaining provides FFAP members with a powerful collective voice to demand fair wages, benefits, and working conditions at PCC, and protection to do so without fear of retaliation.

When does collective bargaining occur at PCC?

The PCC Federation of Faculty and Academic Professionals (FFAP) and PCC administration hold full contract negotiations addressing salary, benefits, and working conditions every four years. The next round of full contract negotiations will begin in January, 2019, ramping up during the spring and summer months so that we can reach an agreement by August 31, 2019 when the current contract ends.

During the second year of the four-year contract, the two sides have what is known as a a wages and benefits re-opener, usually referred to simply as a “re-opener.” These are scaled-down negotiations where only salary and benefits (not working conditions) are bargained for the remaining two-years of the contract. This gives both sides some flexibility to address changes in revenue, enrollment, or cost of living. The next re-opener will happen in spring 2021.

Who can collectively bargain?

PCC employees’ rights to collective bargaining are established by The Oregon Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA), which was signed into law in 1973 and gives public employees in Oregon the right to form, join, and participate in labor unions.

Our union, FFAP, includes all faculty as well as salaried professional staff known as Academic Professionals or APs. Classified (or hourly) employees are represented by a separate union, the PCC Federation of Classified Employees (FCE). FFAP and FCE work closely together during bargaining to ensure the process includes gains for all union-represented employees at PCC.

We often receive questions about casual workers at PCC. Because they are a separate employee class (not faculty, academic professional, or classified), they are not represented by either FFAP or FCE, though under PECBA they have the right to establish their own bargaining unit. This is a subject of concern for many of us who work closely with PCC’s casual staff and see the growth in casual positions as a loophole used by administration to avoid paying fair wages and benefits.

It is interesting to note that three states (North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia) prohibit collective bargaining among public employees, and Texas and Georgia do not allow collective bargaining for teachers. The right to collectively bargain is considered a fundamental human right by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

What topics can PCCFFAP members bargain over?

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is the federal agency charged with enforcing labor law in the U.S. The NLRB divides bargaining subjects into three categories:

  • Mandatory subjects include wages, hours, benefits, grievance and arbitration procedures, working conditions, contract length, seniority, and strikes. PCC administration cannot make a change in any of these areas without providing prior notice to PCCFFAP and an opportunity to bargain over the change.
  • Permissive subjects are those which employers are not required to bargain, but which may be bargained if both sides agree. These include things like class size, school calendar, assessment, curriculum, dress codes, and student discipline procedures.
  • Illegal subjects include any topic or issue that is contrary to established state or federal law.

What happens when administration and PCCFFAP can’t reach an agreement?

If PCC administration and PCCFFAP do not reach an agreement during the first 150 days of direct bargaining, they move to mediation. Oregon law dictates that mediation continue for 15 days, after which the two sides may continue in mediation or either party can declare an impasse. Once an impasse is declared, both parties submit their final offers, and a 30-day “cooling off period” follows.

In the next and final step in the collective bargaining process, the PCC administration can choose to implement their final offer, and PCCFFAP can exercise our right to strike. (Note that due to the no-strike clause in our contract, PCCFFAP could only initiate a strike after our current contract’s expiration date of August 31, 2019.)

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