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posted: 9/21/2012 12:46 PM

Harper College adjuncts reach four-year deal

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The Harper College board this week approved a new four-year agreement with the Palatine community college's adjunct faculty.

Annual pay increases for the union, which comprises about 500 members, will range between 2 percent and 5 percent and be tied partly to the rate of inflation.

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"The best outcome that could have happened is that people left the table feeling like they'd been heard and involved in the process, and I think that's what happened," Harper President Ken Ender said. "It's a win-win for them and the college."

In the first year, employees will receive a 3.1 percent salary hike that's retroactive to the beginning of the semester. The final year calls for a flat 3 percent raise.

In the second and third years, the increase will be tied to the Consumer Price Index for urban consumers. Regardless of what CPI-U is set at, however, the raises will be a minimum of 2 percent and a maximum of 5 percent, Chief Human Resources Officer Roger Spayer said.

Since they work part-time, members don't receive any health benefits.

Harper's adjunct librarians and counselors, previously a separate unit, successfully petitioned last year to merge with the adjuncts and form one big group.

Compensation for adjunct professors is based on the level of education and previous credit hours taught. This year it ranges from $883 per credit hour to $1,044 per credit hour.

Pay for the adjunct librarians and counselors is based on the number of semesters worked. It ranges from $36.68 per hour for employees with zero to six semesters' experience, up to $43.97 per hour for those with at least 22 semesters' experience.

Spayer said it was the first time that negotiations, which began in January, were based on an "interest-based" bargaining model.

"It's different from a traditional model where parties come in with positions and defend them," Spayer said. "Instead you sit around as one unit and justify your needs and explain what the intent is. It makes for a less contentious environment, which is important because we all have to work together in the end."

Spayer said the model has worked well for Harper so far. Multiple-year agreements were recently reached for both the college's professional/technical and the physical plant union.

Negotiations are ongoing for Harper's police union's 14 members, while nearly three years remain on the full-time faculty's contract.

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