News

2021 Reopener Update #4

The FFAP-FCE Joint Bargaining Team (JBT) met for the fourth time with PCC administration on Thursday, June 10. Thirty five days and two meetings have passed since the JBT responded to the College’s opening offer of 1.5% COLA reduction. Instead of the back and forth that is typical of good-faith bargaining, they have simply restated their initial offer during the last two meetings. The ball is in their court, and we will wait. 

At yesterday’s meeting, the admin team also notified us that they were no longer willing to discuss the ground rules for bargaining, effectively taking the issue of observers off the table. As a result, we are looking into the option of declaring a public meeting, per ORS 192.660: 

“Labor negotiations shall be conducted in open meetings unless negotiators for both sides request that negotiations be conducted in executive session. “ (emphasis added)

The JBT is committed to transparency with members. We’re sad that it has come to this, but the College—by refusing to be even a tiny bit flexible about observers—has left us with no other option.

You may have seen the email from the President’s cabinet* about the reopener. If not, here is the TL;DR version of the communication:

  • The pandemic-related decline in enrollment has led to a decline in revenue, and the College can no longer meet its commitment to the COLAs agreed to in 2019. (Note: The 1.5% COLA reductions they are demanding would save the college $6 million over two years.) 
  • The $54 million in federal relief money is meant, in part, to help the College weather the pandemic-related decline in revenue.

They go on to state that the $54 million in federal relief money cannot be used to fund employee compensation—in fact this is not clear (see #21 here and this FAQ). Either way, by using one-time federal funding to close the budget gap, there is no question the College would be in a position to honor its COLA commitments!

It’s interesting that the college is reaching out directly to members about the reopener while at the same time barring observers from the meetings. According to the Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act, it is illegal for an employer to attempt to influence the bargaining process. To that end, the federations are exploring the possibility of filing an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) complaint against the College for this confusing and misleading communication. Stay tuned for more on that. 

In related news, the state of Oregon is expected to approve a historic funding package for community colleges—one that could lead to an additional (and unanticipated!) $20 million more in state funding than the College was budgeting for. 

The college will keep telling us there is no money for COLAs. Members should judge for themselves.  

*Among members of the President’s Cabinet, the average annual salary is $178,000

2021 Reopener Update #3

Our reopener negotiations on compensation resumed Thursday, May 27. We had hoped management would come prepared with a reasonable counteroffer on COLAs.

Instead, the Administration presented PCC’s anticipated budget and projected cost factors, then reiterated their original proposal to lower the planned COLA increase from 2.5% to 1.0% in each of 2021-22 and 2022-23.

This is why we need transparent bargaining sessions – as we have had for many years now – so that members can observe first-hand what is happening at the table. But management insists on closed-door bargaining. Three sessions in, we have yet to reach agreement on ground rules for negotiations.

Our next bargaining session is Thursday, June 10. It’s time to step up the pressure on the Administration to stop putting employees last on their priority list.

If you haven’t signed on yet, don’t forget to add your name here to show support for open bargaining and keeping our planned COLAs!

And save the date for our first socially distanced, in-person union action this year!

FFAP/FCE Honk-a-thon

When: June 9 – 12:00 pm

Where: at or near the CLIMB Center parking lot

What to bring: Decorate your car, your bike, your running shoes, bring a sign, wear a union shirt, and make some noise! We’ll have blue FFAP-branded masks for participants, too.

RSVP here to let us know you’re coming!

2021 Reopener Update #2

Click here to read Update #1.

Open Bargaining: The Federation is continuing to push for ground rules that allow observers at bargaining sessions, and the administration is continuing to object. If ground rules cannot be agreed to, bargaining will proceed without them, and the Federation will either broadcast, livestream, or record bargaining sessions for members. Our preference is to come to an agreement with administration on observers, perhaps by turning off cameras and muting microphones, but closed-door bargaining sessions violate our commitment to transparency with members and are therefore unacceptable.

COLA: The administration’s opening proposal was to lower the COLA increase from 2.5% to 1.0% in each of 2021-22 and 2022-23. Obviously lowering COLAs is unacceptable considering:

  • The college has received $54 million in federal pandemic relief funding
  • The college has saved millions of dollars due to facilities closures, a hiring freeze, and fewer class sections offered due to the enrollment decline.
  • Members have suffered financial hardship due to the cascading effects of the pandemic, wildfires, and power outages

Our counter-offer was as follows:

  • Increase COLA—from 2.5% to 8.3% in 2021-22, and from 2.5% to 7% in 2022-23. 

The two sides are always far apart in the beginning—the point of bargaining is to come to a mutually agreeable resolution. The Federation remains open to counteroffers, including a permanent percentage increase, a phase in, lumpsum stipends, or some combination. But rather than accept this as the reasonable opening offer it was, the administration seemed shocked by the Federation’s expectation that the College would pass along some relief aid to its employees. The admin team called our offer “outrageous” and “unbelievable” and said they’d never seen anything like this. After those comments, they left the online meeting.

Our next bargaining meeting is May 19. We are hoping for a reasonable counter offer from administration—one that includes allowing observers as well as increasing their original offer on COLA.  

Don’t forget to sign here to show support for the bargaining team!

2021 Reopener Update #1

Background

In 2019, the Federation negotiated a four-year contract that included an economic package with the following items: 

  • Annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to the salary schedules
  • Catchup COLAs for APs and step compression for Faculty
  • Regular step movement
  • A new top step for Full Time Faculty
  • Increasing parity between Full Time Faculty and Part Time Faculty salary schedules

For more details, you can read about the agreement here. The Federation agreed to a wage reopener in 2021 only if 2020-21 enrollment dipped below 21,196 student FTE or if the 2021-23 Oregon Community College Support Fund fell below $631 million. The Coronavirus pandemic has caused enrollment to fall below 21,000, so at least one of the criteria has been met. We will know more about state funding in June, though we do not anticipate a reduction. 

FFAP negotiates wages in collaboration with our colleagues in the Federation of Classified Employees (FCE). Together we form a Joint Bargaining Team (JBT). Other contractual issues, such as working conditions, professional duties, and assessment, are negotiated every four years during full contract negotiations. The next full contract negotiation will take place in 2023. 

The JBT is supported by our Labor Relations Specialist Vincent Blanco (vincent.blanco@pccffap.org). FFAP members on the negotiations team include: Frank Goulard (frank.goulard@pccffap.org), Matt Stockton (matt.stockton@pccffap.org), Emiliano Vega (emiliano.vega@pccffap.org), Shirlee Geiger (shirlee.geiger@pccffap.org), and Michelle DuBarry (michelle.dubarry@pccffap.org).  

Timeline

The first wage reopener meeting was held on April 22, 2021. Under Oregon state law, the teams have 150 days to come to an agreement. For more information, please see the Bargaining FAQ.

First Meeting Summary

The agenda for Thursday’s meeting was to set ground rules and work out the details for release time for bargaining team members. Administration also presented their initial offer. There were two main points of contention:

Open Bargaining: PCC administration asked that the ground rules keep bargaining meetings closed to observers, citing technical challenges of providing remote access, as well as disruptions caused by the presence of observers during the last two rounds of negotiations. The JBT feels strongly that observers should be allowed in order to promote transparency and trust between administration and the federations. The JBT presented a counter proposal to the ground rules that allowed for observers.

It is interesting to note that the main concerns with observers during 2019 was room capacity and safety. The fire marshall was repeatedly invoked as a way to limit the number of observers. Now that we are remote, the JBT is excited about the prospect of increasing accessibility to more members. 

COLA Reduction: Administration’s opening offer was for a 1.5% reduction in the negotiated COLA in years 2021-22 and 2022-23—from 2.5% to 1% in both years. Administration did not propose any changes to the other four economic contract gains described in the first paragraph. The JBT is committed to holding the line on COLA, and will present a counter-proposal at the next meeting, scheduled for May 6 at 1:00 p.m.

New Process for Applying Article 4

Federation leaders have created a FAQ document to answer member questions about the class assignment process taking the place of assignment rights. It is continually updated, and you can find it HERE.

If you have questions that are not addressed here, please email

Shirlee Geiger: shirlee.geiger@pccffap.org

Kris Fink: kris.fink@pccffap.org

Update for Part-Time Faculty Regarding Class Assignment Process

Background: Our contract has had the following language governing class scheduling for many years:

4.211     Management and the Federation agree that the guiding principle in assigning Faculty to teach PCC courses is to assign the best Instructor available to teach each course…

1.     Once Management has determined the classes to be offered the next term, Full- time Faculty [and part-time faculty with Multi-year Contracts] will be assigned the classes needed to fulfill their workload requirement.

2.     Remaining classes will be assigned as follows with priority consideration given to part-time Faculty with assignment rights. Factors for priority consideration include, but are not limited to, whether the part-time faculty member with assignment rights has consistently received positive student evaluations that demonstrate effective teaching, and whether other qualified faculty are available who better meet the program’s needs (e.g. faculty with special training related to the course, faculty who can contribute to updating or broadening the program, or faculty who will increase the diversity of the program).

Assignment rights will sunset after Summer 2021, but the language of “priority consideration” remains.  How does an instructor GET priority consideration for class assignments under this article of our contract? Well, PCC’s administration has never had a process to determine how these considerations apply to scheduling decisions. They have preferred to leave it up to the discretion of department chairs and deans. This has led to a number of problems that members have brought forward:

  • There is no accountability for the decisions made
  • There is no transparency
  • There is no way for someone to know what they could do to earn priority consideration

Hoping to remedy these problems, we agreed during the 2019 negotiations to create a joint workgroup, tasked with creating a process for implementing this language in a transparent and consistent manner.

The new process: The joint workgroup first worked to get an agreement on a more detailed description of the competencies or contributions listed in our contract for priority consideration. Then we agreed to a voluntary process job-insecure instructors can use to upload an instructional portfolio via the MyCareer@PCC.edu. The Administration specified what kinds of portfolio materials would be relevant to each of the listed competencies, as is their right. And then together we created a rubric that will be used to assess the portfolios.  The new process is described in this document.

Why make this change?

  • The Reorganization is going to change the job descriptions of deans and department chairs AND who is doing those jobs, including scheduling classes. We have heard concerns from many “part-time” instructors – how can people they potentially don’t even know decide if they should be assigned classes? The “priority consideration for class assignment” process will provide a way for class assignments to be made in a consistent manner across the district, aligned with PCC’s vision of excellence in instruction, based on an instructional portfolio instead of a face-to-face relationship. 
  • Different judgments of FDCs and deans have been reflected in assessments — job-insecure instructors have been assessed as EXCELLENT in all or most categories on one campus, but as showing serious deficiencies when teaching the same class in the same way at another campus. There has been no institution-wide set of skills valued in instructors. Given this, many “part-timers” report that their real job-security revolved around their relationship with their chair. For instructors with good relationships, the system has seemed OK. But for instructors with strained relationships, or who felt they were not understood or appreciated by their chair, there has been little to no recourse.
  • Awarding of MYCs was inconsistent across the district — a complaint which the Administration heard lots of times and from lots of different sources. The “best available instructor” and “priority consideration in scheduling” process is intended to be used in some form for future MYC awards. We have no contractual guarantee or any specifics about how it would be used, but the joint team discussed multiple times that this is a shared goal.
  • A workgroup at SE campus brought forward the urgent concern, when we were bargaining in 2019, that there is no career ladder or pathway for advancement for “part-time” faculty at PCC. The Valencia model involves robust professional development explicitly tied to what the organization wants and expects from instructors. This has led to increased hiring from within when full-time positions open. There is no commitment or guarantee at this point from Administration to priority in hiring from within, but we have discussed this model at length. The Best Available Instructor/Priority Consideration in Scheduling process is a step in that direction.
  • Until now, if an instructor wanted to be assigned more classes, they could make that desire known. And wait. With fingers crossed. Although assignments of sections will still be precarious — impacted by declines or increases in enrollment, campus registration patterns, the interests or needs of full-time colleagues, etc — with the development of criteria for priority consideration in class assignment, and a clear rubric for assessing instructional portfolios, there will be, at last, something we can DO to make it more likely that we will receive class assignments. With the portfolio, and the rubric for assessing it (which will be shared in TLC sessions), we will know how to become better instructors as that is evaluated by PCC.

As with many issues in bargaining, there are trade-offs in the move to a new system. Here are some we heard in focus groups conducted in Fall 2020.

Pros Cons
-Increased consistency and transparency in course assignment
-Provides continuity through the expected shuffling of deans and chairs in the Reorg
-Provides the first step in an anticipated coordinated process for awarding MYCs and hiring new full-time instructors
-Allows “part-time” instructors to compile and document their professional development and college contributions in a centralized location, to be added to over time
-Creates a mechanism for FFAP to hold deans accountable for class assignment decisions
-Lots of work to create and maintain a portfolio for instructors, especially compared to assignment rights (once you got them, you kept them!) But most of the components should be readily available: syllabus and assignments, observation forms, student feedback
-Lots of work to assess and consider the portfolios for chairs and deans. The requested portfolio components and assessment rubric are new — they may need to be modified as we learn from using them
-There is STILL no seniority consideration in class assignmentAs more instructors meet the highest expectations on the rubric, there will eventually be no benefit — all instructors will be the best!!

The MAJOR complaint we have heard so far about this process is that there is no consideration of seniority. This could be a focus of bargaining in 2022-23 if job-insecure members of our unit decide it is a priority!

Join our Secrets of a Successful Organizer Lunch & Learn Series!

Join us for a new, highly interactive training series based on the popular organizing guidebook Secrets of a Successful Organizer. In six short sessions you’ll learn practical organizing tools for talking to your co-workers, taking action together, and getting results.

Each session is based on the insights and know-how of generations of organizers, as well as the concrete experiences of people who’ve won big improvements to their working conditions.

Plus, the series will be co-facilitated by Secret’s co-author Mark Brenner, an AFT member and career instructor for the U of O’s Labor Education and Research Center (LERC).

No need to read the book. Just grab your lunch and join us on Zoom.

➡️ Sign up now to save your seat! You can RSVP for all sessions or just a few that work for you.

SECRETS OF A SUCCESSFUL ORGANIZER, 6-Part Series

Click here to join the Zoom meetings.

SESSION 1: HOW TO GET UNSTUCK

Tuesday, January 26 at Noon

Do you ever feel like your co-workers don’t care or that nothing is going to change? In this session, we’ll discuss the common barriers to getting involved and how to identify what our co-workers really care about.

SESSION 2: HOW AN ORGANIZER TALKS… AND LISTENS

Tuesday, Feb 2 at Noon

Finding out what will motivate our co-workers to get involved starts with listening, one-on-one. This session will provide an easy-to-follow framework for approaching these conversations.

SESSION 3: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

Tuesday, Feb 9 at Noon

Understanding our rights at work is the first step to asserting them. In this session, we’ll cover our right to union representation and our rights to engage in union activity. Facilitated by Vincent Blanco, FFAP’s Labor Relations Specialist.

SESSION 4: WHY WE NEED MEMBER LEADERS

Tuesday, Feb 16 at Noon

We’ll discuss the role of workplace leaders – with or without a formal title! – and why they are the key to getting more people to take on the big issues we’re facing.

SESSION 5: ASSEMBLING YOUR DREAM TEAM

Tuesday, Feb 23 at Noon

We’ll discuss how to create our network of respected co-workers that can bring people together.  

SESSION 6: SWINGING INTO ACTION

Tuesday, March 2 at Noon

We’ll discuss how to make a game plan to push management to address the issues our co-workers are concerned about.

Joint PCC/PCCFFAP Statement on Resolution of PT Faculty Pay Issue

Dear Colleagues:

Last month, the College implemented a new part-time faculty salary schedule that is in closer alignment with the full-time faculty schedule as part of the 2019-2023 Faculty and Academic Professional Agreement. As you may know, this was the first step in a phased implementation of the new schedule. Unfortunately, the College and the Federation were not aware of the extent of the negative impact that some part-time faculty would experience in the first year of the new schedule. With a mutual interest in mitigating the negative impact, College administration and the Federation have been in discussions regarding a solution to the loss in pay for impacted part-time faculty.

We are pleased to report that we have identified a solution that retroactively restores impacted part-time faculty pay rates to 2019-20 levels. The College is securing the necessary approvals and will be taking steps to implement these changes as soon as possible. Funds outside of the negotiated agreement have been identified and will be used to adjust pay for part-time faculty who experienced a reduction in their hourly rate this fall due to the negotiated changes. It is anticipated that retroactive pay for this group for Fall term will be paid no later than March 5, 2021, and the pay for future terms will be built into the salary schedule.

Thank you for your patience as we worked to resolve this issue, and please be in touch with any questions.

Sincerely,

Frank Goulard, PCCFFAP President

Shirlee Geiger, Contract Administration Officer for Part Time Faculty

Cheryl Belt, Director, Employee and Labor Relations

Pay Equity for Part Time Faculty

Equal pay for equal work is a basic principle of workplace fairness. But it has not pertained to academic labor for a long time. In January 2020 piece for Inside Higher Ed, John Warner describes what equal pay would be:

“In order to calculate the Teaching Labor Wage Gap, we need to […] determine what portion of those [full-time] salaries is dedicated to instruction and then do some addition, multiplication and division, and also more multiplication, and addition, and division.”

At PCC, instructors are paid according to how many “contact hours” at PCC they have accumulated. After working additional hours, an instructor moves to a higher step on the pay scale. Until Fall 2019, PCC kept two different sets of steps and two different pay rates for full-time and “part-time” instructors. The pay was clearly unequal between the two pay scales, but how unequal varied by level. The two scales started out not too far off, but the longer someone stayed as a job-insecure instructor, the more they were devalued.

But as John Warner says, figuring out equal pay takes math. 

Step one: Full-time faculty are paid to do instruction (teaching, preparation, grading) and also for non-instructional work like committee participation, curriculum development, and student recruitment. What percentage of full-time pay goes to instruction? The only relevant data we had came from a survey in 1995 for FTers. It showed approximately 80% of their work was instructional. Since then, the demands on full-timers have increased, and the number of full-time instructors has decreased relative to all instructional work. When bargaining in 2018-19, we agreed to use 70%, along with an agreement by Administration to create a method to better track FT non-instructional hours. (Since job creep and overload has been the major complaint of FTers, this information will also help us push back on the creep!)

Step two: Full-time pay is presented as an annual salary. But “part-time” pay is paid by the instructional hour. To get an instructional hour rate from the FT pay, we need a formula:

FT annual pay *.70/48/12 

  • 70 = the percent of FT pay that is directly instructional
  • 48 = the average number of lecture hours taught in a year (which would have to be adjusted for labs or lecture/labs)
  • 12 = the number of weeks (for purposes of pay) in a term.

If we look at the pay rates for 2015-2017 we can see how irrational and unfair the old steps were.

Here are some examples.

The long-time PT instructor:

A FT instructor with 8000 contact hours would be at step 17, making $88,661. Using our formula (88661*.70/48/12) means equal pay for the PTer would be $107.74. But they were actually paid $79.25. PTers were paid 74% of what FTers earned for instructional time.

This is the very definition of exploitation.

The brand-new PT instructor:

Looking at the other end of the scale, a brand new FT instructor with 0 hours at PCC who was placed at step 1 would be paid $51,130. Using our formula (51130*.70/48/12) means equal pay would be $62.14. Actual pay at step one was $57.36. At step one, PTers were paid 92% of equal pay.

The problem we are dealing with is the irrationality of the PTer scale in the middle. 

The PTer who has been serving PCC students for a few years.

A FT  instructor with 1000 contact hours would be placed at step 3, making $54,774 annually, assuming they were positioned at step at hiring. Using our equity formula (54774*.70/48/12) equal pay for the part-timer with 1000 contact hours (at step 4) would be $66.57. They actually made $67.30 in that contract. This is 101% of what a FTer with equal hours would make. (Many FTers get placed at higher steps initially based on prior experience, while that rarely or never happens for PTers. We hope to work on this inequity in future bargaining.)

The new pay rates for 2020-21 moved to 13 steps. Steps 14-17 will be phased in over the next two years.