Negotiating teams for the College of DuPage and the school's faculty association have reached a tentative contract agreement -- just days before a contract imposed by COD's board of trustees was set to take effect.
The deal was struck just after midnight Saturday -- the result of bargaining sessions on Thursday and Friday that lasted a combined 25 hours, said Faculty Association President Glenn Hansen.
If both the union's membership and the college's board of trustees approve the contract, it could bring to an end a 15-month saga during which the two sides haggled over summer pay, increased workload for lab instructors and bargaining for insurance.
COD's board voted 4-3 on May 10 to impose a contract -- characterized by college officials as their "best and final offer" -- on the 295-member faculty union. That agreement was set to officially take effect Monday, with Tuesday being the first day of summer classes at the state's largest community college. Union officials at the time said they would work under terms of the contract, while they would evaluate their legal options.
But they also urged administrators back to the bargaining table.
Hansen said as a result of discussions Thursday and Friday, the administration's bargaining team agreed to "improvements" on their "best and final offer."
"This is the way negotiations usually go: you negotiate, you keep plugging away at it, then there's usually some trigger that brings both sides to the table that makes them get it done," Hansen said.
In a statement, COD President Robert Breuder said the agreement is "a fair and competitive contract for our faculty that is fiscally responsible to the taxpayers."
Hansen said both sides reached agreement on remaining major sticking points, including a proposal that would have increased the amount of instruction time for faculty who teach lab or studio classes, such as art, photography, automotive and chemistry. Administrators argued the demands on a professor teaching a lab class were not the same as one who teaches a lecture class.
"That issue is gone," Hansen said. "Everybody is paid the same now, regardless of instruction."
Hansen also said faculty will retain the right to bargain for future changes to their health insurance plans.
For example, in 2010, the faculty rejected a proposal to switch health insurance providers from Blue Cross Blue Shield to Cigna by a 265-1 vote.
The college's other three unions and non-unionized employees don't get such a vote, Hansen said.
Hansen said both sides also reached a compromise on pay for summer instruction, though he declined to provide further details. Originally, the administration proposed reducing summer pay to what they said was "a more reasonable level," while still keeping it at "a premium" above what adjuncts are paid.
Under the imposed contract approved by the board, the proposal was scaled back to only affect future hires.
Hansen said he will hold two sessions with faculty members to discuss the agreement before an official vote is taken June 13.
The board of trustees are expected to take a vote June 18.
Until then, the faculty will continue to work under terms of the old contract, which expired last August.
If approved by both sides, the new agreement would be in effect until the start of the fall 2015 term.