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