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updated: 6/19/2012 10:45 AM

COD OKs 3-year faculty contract

'Final offer' now in force, even if faculty's unhappy

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  • Robert Breuder

      Robert Breuder

  • Glenn Hansen

      Glenn Hansen

 
 

When they arrive to the classroom Tuesday morning, College of DuPage's full-time faculty members will be working under a new contract.

The college's board of trustees voted 7-0 to ratify the three-year agreement Monday, bringing to an end 16 months of contentious negotiations in which college administrators and faculty association officials haggled over salaries for summer and lab classes, and debated the degree to which teachers should have input in changes to insurance plans.

College officials argued the old faculty contract didn't make fiscal sense in the current economy, while the faculty said they weren't being presented a fair deal and were being treated differently than other union groups at COD.

Last week, members of the faculty union voted 196-54 to ratify the agreement. That represents 86 percent of the 292-member union membership who cast a ballot, according to association President Glenn Hansen.

The faculty had overwhelmingly rejected the administration's "best and final offer" last month that the college's board of trustees voted 4-3 to impose on the faculty beginning May 29. Just days before the agreement was set to take effect, negotiating teams from both sides worked out a tentative deal, which now takes effect after the approval by union membership and the college board.

But there still doesn't appear to be flowers and rainbows on COD's campus.

Hansen said Monday faculty members would have voted down the latest agreement by wide margins had he and members of their negotiating team not shown that "this is all there is without a strike" -- an action the faculty had long rejected.

"There's a lot of tension at school here. This is not kiss and make up. They do not understand what happens in the classroom, and they don't respect us," Hansen said.

COD President Robert Breuder said he's ready to build a "new relationship" with faculty and called the resulting agreement a "good outcome."

He said college officials presented their "best and final offer" to move along the process since there had been "no end in sight," but they were still willing to negotiate in good faith.

There has been several key changes to the agreement since the college board approved it May 10, in which the three trustees previously endorsed by the union voted against it.

Summer pay

Under the new contract, all faculty members will be paid 23 percent of their base salary to teach summer classes -- the current rate -- but that amount will vary in later years of the agreement, depending on a teacher's level of experience.

Beginning in the summer of 2013, faculty members will be paid two times the faculty overload rate, which is $951 per contact hour -- the amount of time an instructor is in the classroom. That means newer instructors could be getting a pay boost, while more experienced teachers will have a pay cut.

For example, someone making a base salary of $60,000 could be paid $5,000 more for summer instruction, while someone making $100,000 could lose $5,000, Breuder said.

COD officials had originally sought to reduce pay for teaching in the summer to what they said was "a more reasonable level," while still keeping it at "a premium" above what part-time instructors are paid. The original plan called for paying faculty 1 times the faculty overload rate.

With the faculty not wanting to concede, administrators later sought a two-tier salary schedule in which those changes would have only affected newer hires, and the amount existing faculty are paid to teach in the summer would have been gradually reduced over the course of the contract.

But union officials wanted current and future faculty to be on the same schedule, so the two sides agreed to the new plan.

Faculty load

Those who teach a lecture-only class will teach 15 hours per week, and those with labs will teach 16 hours per week, under terms of the new contract.

The administration had sought to increase the amount of instruction time for faculty who teach lab or studio classes, arguing that the demands on a professor teaching a lab class is not the same as one who teaches a lecture class.

Under the "best and final offer," a lab, clinic or studio class would have equated to 80 percent of a lecture class, beginning in the fall of 2013.

But in the end, the faculty load rates largely stayed the same, officials said.

Medical insurance

Under the new contract, the union's membership no longer has veto power if college administrators seek changes to the college's medical insurance plan. But both sides agreed to a new process by which the faculty would retain the right to have a say in proposed changes.

If insurance costs increase by more than 15 percent in a given year, the college's insurance advisory committee -- which includes three faculty members, two administrators, two nonunion staff members and a member of one of the college's other unions -- can recommend changes to the plan.

If the faculty senate -- made of up of faculty association leadership -- rejects any changes, the issue would go to a second, newly created committee made up of one faculty member, an administrator, a classified staff member, a union engineer and police union member.

Breuder said this gives the faculty two opportunities at input in the process.

Other items

COD officials proposed a pool of salary increases of 2.85 percent, 3.15 percent, 3.55 percent and 4.15 percent over the course of the contract. For more experienced faculty members, that could mean salary increases of less than 1 percent, union officials said.

The union previously agreed to several items, including: paying 20 percent of health insurance premiums instead of the current 10 percent; paying one-third the cost of tuition for themselves and dependents, instead of none; eliminating so-called supplemental retirements, in which employees can earn additional compensation up to 100 percent of their salary after they retire; and reducing the number of faculty who take full-year or one-semester sabbaticals from as many as 15 to five.

The agreement will be in effect until the start of the fall 2015 term.

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