Our Salary? “It’s a matter of priorities.”

Below are the minutes from a tense negotiations meeting #8 on Jan 28th. Be aware that present and past negotiation reports and proposals are available on the Negotiations page of this website.

Negotiations Meeting #8

Attending:

FA: Loveland, Lynch, McGuinness, Shepard, Walz, Koster (to present for the NRC)
Admin: Allen, Behan, Behnke, Berchtold, Fedorchak, Losinger

We met at 2:30 to review Hal’s PowerPoint from the NRC. We were notified by Mike Lynch that ESPA had just reached a tentative contract. Mike had a copy of the contract but we were only able to review it briefly before formal negotiations began. Of note was a “sliding scale” for health insurance.

Formal negotiations began at 3:05.

  1. Regina announced, “We pushed back from the table to consult with our constituents. Do you want to share?”
  2. Mike said, “You can go first.”
  3. Regina passed out the Administration’s new proposal (Jan 2016), announcing, “We have gone up to 2% and included some consideration for adjuncts. In addition, we will calculate employee contribution for health insurance related to income.”
  4. Regina also passed out a handout on SUNY Broome Health Insurance Cost Trends 2010 to 2015.
  5. She said she also wanted to add a few comments. This included:
    • Last year we were the only community college in New York to not lose enrollment.
    • This year we are flat.
    • Most likely, then, next year we will lose enrollment.
    • ¾ of our budget is based on enrollment.

We caucused at 3:15 to review this new information. Our conclusions:

  • There is a relatively insignificant increase in salary
  • There is a significant shift in their health care proposal—obviously, to mirror ESPA.

We reconvened at 3:42.

Hal made the presentation from the NRC (Data from this presentation is available in the Negotiations section of this site).  Regina kept interrupting him and took issue with some of his claims. At one point she said, “There is a greater context.” Hal said, “Please let me continue.”

At the end of the presentation, Hal stated, “We have been able to stay above water and there are areas of growth (Fast Forward, BAP, Dorms, Distance Learning).” Regina interrupted again, “TC3 has 30% vacancies in their dorms.” Hal responded, “They expanded too fast.”

Hal concluded: The college can’t have it both ways. It can’t brag about its successes and not pay its faculty. Faculty are angry and want justice for previous contracts.

  1. Mike said to Regina, “We want to give you a response, but we cannot do it today.”
  2. Regina said, “We will share this PowerPoint with the Board members. However the slides don’t match the data, so I will be following up with questions. We will need more time.”
  3. Mike added, “Speaking of insurance, the county replaced the retiree insurance and changed their benefits.” Regina and Tom denied this. There was quite a bit of back and forth between Bob, Tom, Regina and Mike. It appears that the County is doing quite well with retirees’ payments. The upshot was that Mike told them we would be submitting a request for information in writing.
  4. Mike continued, “We have spent quite a bit of time with our members since the last negotiations session and we are not authorized to make changes to the salary proposal on the table.  What makes it difficult is not just the low salary; you have done an about-face on health care. You started high. Then you started to pull things off the table. Last time the only item remaining was the % in increase. Most of the members will pay more than you said in the fall. This brings us almost back to the starting point and you have added ½% to it. This isn’t good. Can you show me other schools that have done this?”
  5. Regina pulled out a document and stated the names of four schools that she claims have done so. There was more back and forth between Mike and Regina about numbers.
  6. Mike said, “This proposal moves us backwards. We are back to your original proposal for a significant giveback on health insurance. You have turned on a dime and radically changed direction. It’s not productive.”
  7. Mike raised the concern that Regina was not fully authorized to negotiate and was simply acting as a messenger to the Board. Mike stated that we needed people at the table who can make decisions , not just take notes”.
  8. Fred joined the conversation at that point. He said to Regina, “We were asked to help during difficult times and we did.” Regina nodded. He added, “Now we are back at the table. We need to take all six years into consideration.”
  9. Mike asked Regina, “What accounts for the change in the health care proposal?”
  10. Regina answered, “I am willing to go back to the other. We put this out there because another bargaining unit [ESPA?] thought it was important.” She added, “The board has been pretty clear about not moving up on salary. If we are at the point that we are at impasse, do it!”
  11. Mike said, “We are not going to impasse.”
  12. Regina said, “I would appreciate hearing from your bargaining unit what will not be acceptable.” She added, “I also want to make a couple of comments. We agree with you 100% about growth and if we can get it, it’s done.”
  13. Mike said, “We have been telling you from the first meeting that there is no pathway forward with changes to healthcare.”
  14. Regina said, “This was the first I have heard of that. I need a definitive answer.”
  15. Mike, “The answer is no.”
  16. Regina said, “OK I will ask the Board if we can settle without an increase in health insurance. A quick email to the Board will take care of that.”
  17. Mike said, “OK.”

Fred and Regina had a direct exchange. Fred finally said, “Regina, the money is there. You know the money is there.”

Regina responded, “It’s a matter of priorities.”

Hal said, “We need to consider the human infrastructure and not just the physical infrastructure.”

After more heated words on both sides, we agreed to adjourn but meet in two weeks. Regina stated, “I will have a rebuttal PowerPoint.”

Negotiations concluded at 4:50 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Suzanne V. Shepard, Ph.D.
Member, Faculty Association Negotiating Team